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Chapter 4 Why 90 seconds?
  9"Time is precious." "Time costs money." "Don'tI waste my time." Time has become an increasinglysought-after commodity. We budget our time, make itstand still, slow it down or speed it up, lose sense of itand distort it; we even buy timesaving devices. Yet timeis one of the few things we can't save—it is foreverunfolding.

In bygone days, we were inherently more respectfulof one another and devoted more time to theniceties of getting to know someone and explore commonground. In the hustle and bustle of life today, werush about with so many deadlines attached to everythingthat unfortunately we don't have the time, ortake the time, to invest in getting to know each otherwell. We look for associations, make appraisals andassumptions, and form decisions all within a few secondsand frequently before a word is even spoken.

Friend or foe? Fight or flight? Opportunity or threat?

Familiar or foreign?

Instinctively, we assess, undress and best-guess eachother. And if we can't present ourselves fast and favorably,we run the risk of being politely, or impolitely,passed over.

The second reason for establishing likability in 90seconds or less has to do with the human attention10span. Believe it or not, the attention span of the averageperson is about 30 seconds! Focusing attention has beencompared to controlling a troop of wild monkeys. Attentioncraves novelty—it needs to be entertained andloves to leap from branch to branch, making new connections.

If there's nothing fresh and exciting for it tofocus on, it becomes distracted and wanders off insearch of something more compelling—deadlines, footballor world peace.

Read this sentence, then look away from the bookand fix your attention on anything that isn'tmoving (a great piece of art doesn't count). Keepyour eyes on the object for 30 seconds. You'llprobably feel your eyes glazing over after just10 seconds, if not before.

In face-to-face communication, it's not enough tocommand the other person's attention. You must alsobe able to hold on to it long enough to deliver your messageor intention. You will capture attention with yourlikability, but you will hold on to it with the quality ofrapport you establish. More and more it comes down tothree things: 1) your presence, i.e., what you look likeand how you move; 2) your attitude, i.e., what you say,how you say it and how interesting you are; and 3) howyou make people feel.

11When you learn how to make fast, meaningful connectionswith people, you will improve your relationshipsat work and even at home. You will discover theenjoyment of being able to approach anyone with confidenceand sincerity. But a word of caution: we're notabout to change your personality; this is not a new wayof being, not a new way of life. You are not getting amagic wand to rush out into the street with and have theworld inviting you to dinner—these are connecting skillsto be used only when you need them.

Establishing rapport in 90 seconds or less withanother person or group, be it in a social or communitysetting or with a business audience or even in a packedcourtroom, can be intimidating for many people. It hasalways amazed me that in this most fundamental of alllife skills, we've been given little or no training. You areabout to discover that you already possess many of theabilities needed for making natural connections withother people—it's just that you were never aware ofthem before.

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