December 22, 2016
This time of year many of us have busy calendars packed with parties, parties, parties. It’s an excellent time to let people know about what you do and how you can help them.
Or is it?
A better approach, instead of launching into an elevator pitch, is to simply sit back and listen to them. Ask them questions. Let them talk.
In other words, practice active listening. This establishes a clear connection between you and whoever you are conversing with. Active listening shows a mutual understanding between both parties in the conversation. The goal is to show that you care and are interested in whatever is being said to you, so start by doing small things such as nodding and repeating some things back to show you understand what was said. And always ask questions!
Not sure where to start? Here are a few questions to help you get the conversation going:
- “How do you spend your time?” is one of my favorites. They have an opportunity to answer it however they see fit: work, family, charity involvement, sports, etc.
- “Where did you go to school?” is another great question. It allows you to learn about their background and gives them a chance to tell their story.
- “How long have you lived in this area?” allows them to speak about their connection to the community.
- “What’s your favorite holiday tradition?” gives them a chance to tell you a personal story you’ll remember.
The idea is: talk less about you, and learn more about them. You’ll be surprised at how easily the conversation flows.
What are some of your best tips to maneuver holiday parties?
August 6, 2015
You do this everyday, all the time. You’re always talking to people; when you order your coffee and when you see the mailman. You talk when you call your sister and you thank your babysitter. But most of all you talk when you’re at work. I know what you’re thinking: practice makes perfect so I’m all set. That’s not always the case. Plus there’s always room for improvement! Here are some ways to master the art of conversation.
- Start small. Don’t rush into a conversation with serious, heavy topics. Stick with the weather or another non-threatening topic. But don’t make it too obvious, small talk can be annoying.
- The customer is always right. When you’re talking to someone, try not to correct them. Even if you mean it in the best way, they’ll think you’re rude. It’s best to let it go.
- Ask questions. Most people enjoy talking about themselves, so ask questions! People love to talk about themselves, so let them! They’ll walk away feeling like they had a great conversation with you.
- Pay attention. Actually listen to what the other person is saying. This may sound obvious, but if you get caught not listening you look bad. Put your phone away and really concentrate.
- Make a connection. Relate to the other person by sharing an experience or feeling. This makes the conversation meaningful and you more likable. Find some common ground to bring you together.
- What you’re not saying. Be aware of your body language. Looking away or at your watch makes people feel like you’re not really listening. Use your hands when you talk to show enthusiasm instead of crossing your arms. You look more friendly this way.
- Know when it’s over. Listen for cues (or use them yourself!) to know when the conversation is coming to an end. Phrases like “I should let you go” or “It was great to see you” signal it’s time to get out of there. Say your goodbyes and get on your way.
With all the technology we’re used to, it can be hard to remember how to have a good conversation. Hopefully these tips will help you on your way to mastering the art of conversation!
What are your tips for mastering the art of conversation?