Much has been written about the art of conversation. Engaging strangers comes easily to some people. For others, it is a nightmare to start a dialogue and keep it going. In the business world, good conversation skills are a must if you want to build relationships with your clients and your colleagues.
Like so much in life, good conversation is a matter of maintaining balance. It’s a blend of speaking and listening. Paying attention to what other people are saying is crucial to keeping a natural flow.
People with the best intentions can kill a conversation without realizing what they have done. Here a few of the classic types who have earned the title “Conversation Killer.” With a bit of intention, you won’t find yourself on this list.
The Bore: That’s the person who talks on and on about himself when you want to talk about yourself.
The Interrogator: This person read somewhere that asking questions is the secret to good dialogue. The result is a barrage of questions fired at the other person until he is completely worn down. By commenting occasionally on what other people are saying, you can avoid making them feel as if they are being grilled by the Gestapo.
The Interrupter: This person doesn’t take time to hear you out. He continually jumps in to finish your sentences for you, acting as if he knows what you are going to say next. Pauses make the interrupter uncomfortable.
The Advisor: This conversation killer believes he is keeping the balance. He has heard what you said and is now offering his advice. The problem here is that you didn’t ask what he thought. To avoid being the advisor, keep your opinions to yourself unless you hear, “What would you do?” or “What do you think?”
The One-Upper: This individual can hardly wait for you to finish your story so he can go you one better. So you had a skiing accident and broke your ankle? Well, he fell off a mountain and was in a body cast for a year. Whatever you have to say, he can top it.
Chatty Cathy: She talks way too much. She doesn’t realize that people seldom regret what they left unsaid.
The Poor Sport: This type refuses to play the conversation game. You can ask every question in the book, and he still manages to provide only one-word responses.
Good conversation is give and take. Everybody enhances conversation by listening, acknowledging and offering the occasional response. Sometimes it feels like work, but after all, you are trying to establish relationships, grow your business and be more profitable. Being a conversation creator is part of the job.
As always, the best conversationalist is the one who listens.