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Talking at Work or Business Conversation - What Are You Talking About?
July 15, 2010 — Steve Thompson
“Fear of failure is the single biggest obstacle in adult life.”
Brian Tracy gives three purposes to conversation:
- Self expression and interaction with others – it’s fun and enjoyable.
- To get to know another person better. This is so important in business conversations, whether it’s when you bring someone new into the company or when you’re taking on a new client. You need to understand how you and that person will work together – or not work together – talking to them is one of the best ways to find out.
- To build trust and credibility. This isn’t something that happens instantly. Trust and credibility are built through consistency.
Unfortunately, you aren’t going to build trust and consistency through one or two enjoyable conversations. And, as we talked about a while back in the hiring blog, it’s a good idea to hold conversations in a few different locations and situations if you really want to understand a person and get to know them.
“One of the very best ways to learn about another person is to spend unbroken time in their company. I’ve found that a two- or three-hour car trip is one of the most revealing experiences you will ever have with another human being. People who have gotten along well for many years, working or socializing together in brief stints, will often find that an extended car trip brings out elements of their personalities that they did not know existed.”
(Can't you just hear your father saying, “Don’t make me have to pull this car over!”)
I think we can agree that if the conversation is for business purposes, the latter two reasons – to get to know a person better, and to build trust and credibility – are the priorities.
So does that mean conversations in business should be intense and boring? I dug this little gem of advice from an advice column written in the early 1900s:
"Business conversation, on the other hand, should always get somewhere; it must be held to its course. It is true that some successful salesmen, for example, have the gift of carrying on conversation in a leisurely manner, as if talking for pleasure only, but in reality they are working toward a goal. They will not let the talk drift so far that they cannot lead it back to the point."
I think the author has a point – you do need to have some control over the conversation, but I also think that it’s essential that you get to know the people you do business with on deeper level.
I’m not talking poker night with the cleaning lady – but I do think a game of golf or a hike doesn’t go amiss.
A good conversation should:
- Have mutual respect – that means everyone takes turns.
- Involve listening, clarity and digestion of thoughts – remember a good listener will paraphrase to clarify; and always take a second before you speak – Brian Tracy calls a pause “classy” – it prevents you from interrupting and the extra thinking time can stop your foot from going in your mouth.
- Strengthen the bond between the participants – it creates mutual understanding and an “in” on the topics covered, it develops intimacy.
A Brian Tracy Certified FocalPoint Business Coach can help mentor you through effective conversations skills – whether you are too shy or you are a run-on-babbler – they have techniques and tools to get talking effectively.