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Upgrade your conversational etiquette

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in Workplace Communication

Exchanging small talk requires an etiquette all its own. By conveying warmth and confidence in quick encounters with your employees, colleagues and clients, you gain their trust.

But if you misread conversational cues, you might drive away allies and earn a reputation as socially awkward. Follow these tips:

Acknowledge thanks. Say, “You’re welcome,” not “Don’t mention it” or “You don’t have to thank me.” Downplaying someone’s thanks is a poor way to respond to an expression of gratitude.

Skip the details. If someone says, “How do you do?”, smile and give a one- or two-word answer such as “Fine” or “Great, thanks.” Don’t take the question literally and give a long-winded account.

Then ask the same question and wait for an answer.

Respond to favors by expressing genuine appreciation—and nothing more. Let a colleague know how much you value her action by saying “Thank you, I really appreciate what you did” or “You’re a lifesaver.” Don’t undercut your gratitude by saying “I owe you one,” “You didn’t have to do that” or, worst of all, “I wish you hadn’t done all that.”

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