It has now been over two years since we experienced our initial “stay-at-home” mandates because of Covid-19. California was the first to issue such an order on March 19, 2020. One by one most states fell in line, and our lives changed forever. Who could have predicted how different our professional and personal lives would be in two and a half years?
One thing that has stood out for me has been the loss of our conversation skills. Covid kept us more than six feet apart. The Internet became our primary means of communication. While Zoom, FaceTime and other online platforms allowed us to see each other’s faces, they did not offer the kind of connection we had when we were in the same room or space with others.
We grew so accustomed to being apart that rather than pick up the phone, we texted or messaged. Talking directly to someone else was uncomfortable. When we received an invitation to an event or an in-person meeting, we tried to find reasons not to go. What? Get out of our comfy stay-at-home clothes? Dress up? Go out in public and converse face-to-face with other human beings? It was almost unthinkable.
The time has come to leave our safe home environment and re-engage with others. That not only means re-learning how to talk to our co-workers but also how to manage conversations with our clients and connections outside the office. Remember business meals and networking events? Engaging with others is necessary in the business world if you want to build relationships and grow your bottom line. This is a suitable time to revisit the art of conversation.
Conversation is much like a tennis match where the ball goes back and forth from one person to the other. It is a balance of talking and listening. It’s the practice of asking questions, paying attention to the responses and building on them. Conversation is the act of showing interest in other people so let them talk. The person who speaks less and listens more is considered a good conversationalist and an interesting person.
Your conversation skills may be rusty, but you have not lost them. Take advantage of every opportunity to engage with others in this new environment. There are good questions you can ask to get a post-pandemic conversation flowing.
- What did people do to survive staying at home?
- What was the most challenging part of working from home?
- What did they like the best about working on their own?
- How did Covid affect their lives personally and professionally?
- How do they feel about going back to the office?
- What do they believe are the advantages and disadvantages of both situations?
You get the picture.
Sometimes making conversation feels like work, but you are trying to establish relationships, grow your business and be more profitable. Being a good conversationalist is part of the job.