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Are you ( gulp) Tongue Tied?

We were at a management retreat and on one of the evenings we switched off business and had a social get together. Watching people, a favourite hobby of mine, led me to several conclusions.

1. There are some who can only speak of work, business and nothing else

2. There are some who can speak of many things apart from work and business

3. There are some who are too tongue tied to talk of anything- be it work and business or anything else

I am sure most of the third category above did not do this deliberately. It is not for a lack of ideas that they were hesitant to talk.

For the most part, it stemmed from a lack of confidence. Some when met alone were reasonably confident but seemed to shrink when they were asked to talk in a larger group- even an informal one.

Conversational skills are very important to relate to other people and get your points of view across.

Here are 7 Ideas To Make Conversation

1. Find out and use their names: This personalizes the interaction. Every one likes to be called by their names. If you have a doubt about what to call them or how the name is pronounced, ask.

2. Listen: Skilled conversationalists are very good listeners. Merely by listening you have opportunities to pick up lots about the person and his/her views. It calls for some effort, particularly if you do not find the topic interesting, but it is definitely worth the effort.

3. Be aware: No one expects you to know everything about everything. But you do make a good impression by coming across as being well read and well informed. Knowledge is the key in today’s world. Use and share the knowledge you have. Not only do others gain but you pick up a lot in turn from others.

4. See from their point of view: Conversations are facilitated by seeing things from the others point of view. Not everyone is obliged to think the way you do or hold similar opinions. In fact, conversations are more interesting when there are different view points which are discussed.

5. Ask questions: Seek clarification if something said is not clear to you. It is far wiser to ask than it is to fail to understand. Misconceptions crop up largely because clarifications are not sought. Asking questions also encourages replies and allows the other person to elaborate on their views and ideas.

6. Don’t dominate: A good conversation is a mutually beneficial exchange. Poor conversationalists dominate the conversation and think they have their audience enthralled. More often than not, they become big bores.

7. Be sensitive: Don’t get too personal too soon. Don’t get too inquisitive irrespective of how much you wish to know. There are cultural nuances at work here. In some cultures, getting personal fairly soon is considered quite normal and indeed expected. In other cultures, such behaviour is frowned upon.

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This is the 92 nd of the “A Step A Day” series : To provide perspective and provoke thought to facilitate self-development across a wide spectrum of issues- big and small- crucial for executive success.