Why Uncommon Attention Can Be Alluring
Everyone gravitates toward friendly colleagues, classmates, and co-workers.
When it comes to choosing with whom to spend our free time, our decision is usually very easy. But why? What is it about certain people that attract us like moths to a flame?
According to researchers, it might have something to do with the way they make you feel.
Most of our friends, family, and acquaintances — both personal and professional, treat us well. That is why they remain within our circle of contacts.
But, for most of us, certain people stand out.
These are the people we would go out of our way to wave to on our neighborhood street or office hallway, seeking to capture their attention in order to interact, while letting others we recognize simply pass by. Apparently, our unique attraction to them stems from the uncommon attention they bestow upon us.
Respect and Rapport
Researchers have studied the value of rapport in different contexts.
The retail industry provides an ideal setting to test different methods of rapport-building between employees and customers.
Dwayne D. Gremler and Kevin P. Gwinner, studying rapport-building behaviors used by retail employees, analyzed 824 rapport-building behaviors confirming three categories suggested by previous research — being uncommonly attentive, common grounding — involving intentional attempts to find areas of similarity, and courteous behavior.
They also identified two additional categories that had not been linked to rapport in retail settings: connecting and information sharing.
The category Gremler and Gwinner (ibid.) labeled uncommonly attentive behavior, which includes bestowing special attention upon or making it a point to recognize customers is of particular interest, considering it was the rapport-building behavior most frequently identified by customers themselves.
This finding is consistent with common experience in public interactions where we often remember individuals, in settings both personal and professional, by the way they made us feel.
Rapport Worth Remembering
Some of our favorite people have attained most-favored-status through the way they respond to us. Similar to the retail industry and consistent with the findings of Gremler and Gwinner (supra), many of us have that favorite aunt or coworker who always remember our birthday and favorite foods, and whom we consider to be on the "same wavelength," making socializing uniquely satisfying.
We may in fact be that favorite person to others.
Here are a few ways, consciously or unconsciously, we bridge the gap through bonding:
Pointed Questions Promote Positivity
Asking how seven-year-old Suzie performed in her first dance recital last week is better than asking "How is your daughter?"
Be an Insider
Passing along tailor made tips demonstrate your respect for the relationship.
From recipes to research, going the extra mile to accommodate the personal tastes and interests of friends and contacts creates trust and relational intimacy.
People love when you remember the intelligent, insightful things they said.
Especially when you are able to accurately both remember and recite them back to the author, who will in turn remember you — fondly.
Recognition Is Respect
Just as retail industry research reveals the value of recognizing customers, acknowledging acquaintances, celebrating colleagues, and prioritizing friends and family generate attraction through appreciation.
Because selective attention is uncommonly attractive, recognition demonstrates respect and builds rapport in a variety of settings, personal and professional.
The preceding article was published in Psychology Today and is used with the permission of its author.
Wendy L. Patrick, JD, MDiv, Ph.D., is an award-winning career trial attorney and media commentator. She is host of "Live with Dr. Wendy" on KCBQ, and a daily guest on other media outlets, delivering a lively mix of flash, substance, and style. Read Dr. Wendy L. Patrick's Reports — More Here.
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