Sunday, April 17, 2011 at 5:26PM
Today’s post is a little different. I haven’t “blogged” in a while in the midst of reviews and more article formatted pieces. So today might be a little ranty but I wanted to give you my insight on how important it is to really everyone to be the best conversationalist they can be. It helps in business and all the other aspects of your life.
Practice. Practice. Practice. It goes without saying that if you want to be good at anything you have to be well practiced. It goes with everything from sports to believe it or not even conversations. People don’t give enough credit to the gift of gab in our everyday lives - and especially when conversation is the life blood to any small business and even veteran consultants. Now I’m not talking about selling - because people hate to actually be sold, and if you need a real expert I suggest reading anything by Jeffrey Gitomer (one of my serious favorites). What I’m talking about is the ability to connect with people and articulate how what you do can really be what’s best for them.
Next to execution, conversation should be the most polished tool in the tool box. Sounds really hokey but I actually bought the audio book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by the great Dale Carnegie himself and just listened to it while I was driving from appointment to appointment in the early days. Now a lot of that stuff really isn’t anything magical or that you didn’t know but I definitely got a new appreciation for the art of the conversation from it. It’s more than just being polite and asking good questions.
Being a conversationalist is more about listening and empathizing than anything else. One thing that I learned from Carnegie is that everyone has a story and they are just looking for an audience to perform in front of. When you give people the stage and genuinely take interest in their story a few things happen.
- They are more amicable or sympathetic to your situation or needs
- They are more likely to entertain any queries
- You have the capacity to go from stranger to trusted confidant in a very short time frame
- People love group themselves with people they feel are just like them.
As a consultant being able to articulate how my ability to help businesses add value isn’t the only thing I need to worry about. Problems and concerns happen in all shapes and sizes - they even have lots of way to approach the solving of them. Being a good conversationalist can help really get to the core of a problem and even the most comfortable way a client will need to address that problem. Teaching for me has been a great help because I get bright eyed students, often with no business background, who are ready to learn about micro/macroeconomics. I have to be able to break down concepts and material so that everyone is on the same page before I move on - and also field questions from brains who have very different experiences and points of reference.
If you are looking about reinvesting in your human capital, or the next tool to pick up for your small business I urge you to think about tools that help you be a more effective communicator. Everyone from bakers, dog walkers, CEO’s and data analysts need to be able to get a message across and have everyone involved understand it. I hate to sound cliche but we are all, always, selling. It might not be products or services but we all try to talk our ways in to the things that we want. Instead of looking at ways to intentionally manipulate people or the best hard sell just work on your dinner conversation skills. The best part is the better you get the more natural it becomes and before you know it you will have more real friends, not that Facebook random friends aren’t real, than you can shake a stick at. Hope you like the rant!!