Whether you're stuck on the elevator with the CEO or meeting new people at a networking event, 'power chatting' can be your ticket to making a good impression.
If you're like many people, though, the idea sends you into a panic: "How should I start the conversation? What if I run out of things to say?"
Listen to our communication training guide, and you'll never run out of clever things to say to your CEO... Listen Here.
With a few easy-to-learn techniques—offered below by Debra Fine, author of The Fine Art of Small Talk—you can feel comfortable in any social situation.
Use these Fine techniques:
1. Start with an enthusiastic exclamation, and follow it with a question. Example:
- "What a great conference! What sessions have you attended?"
2. Think of the conversation as a history lesson. Uncover the other person's stories by asking the following questions:
- "What sparked your interest in this field?"
- "How did you come to join this organization?"
- "When did you first know you wanted to be a ___?"
By using this blueprint, you'll soon become comfortable with making small talk in virtually any situation. And, by becoming a good conversationalist, Fine says, "you'll bring new people into your network of friends and colleagues."
Communication is probably the most important part of your job. Do it well, and your career takes off, your peers respect you, and day-to-day interactions are easier.
With Communicating With Tact and Diplomacy, we'll give you the tools necessary to communicate well in any workplace situation. Learn How.
Sound more credible, competent and convincing by using "power talk." That's the term coined by communication expert George Walther to mean that every word you use creates value for you.
Practice these power talk techniques:
• Use affirmative language. Example: Say, "When we ... " instead of "If we ..."
• Make it clear that you accept responsibility. Example: "I'll help you myself" or "I want to try this."
• Employ win/win phrasing. Example: "Finish this today and we can move on to something more creative."
• Don't use phrases that call your integrity into question. Example: "To be perfectly honest ..." That implies you haven't been honest until now.
• Avoid ineffective intensifiers: "very," "definitely" and "surely." They make you sound less than convincing.
• Drop disclaimers—"I'm not an expert, but ..."—that invite people to disagree with or challenge you.
• Skip hedges and qualifiers, such as "sort of" and "perhaps."
• Don't apologize for situations you lack control over.
We're all creatures of habit to a large extent, and often those habits make us speak without thinking about the impact our messages may have on those who receive them. We've all said things we wish we could take back, but that's like trying to un-ring a bell: Once you've said it, there's no turning back.
Don't let verbal and visual miscues ruin your career. With Communicating with Tact and Diplomacy, you'll learn:
Get your audio training now.
- How silence can be used as an effective communication tool
- How sloppy word choice can undermine your credibility
- Different ways to respond to someone who's attacking you verbally
- A simple exercise to gain more assertiveness
- How to minimize interruptions with grace
- Just say "no” and mean it
- What it means to "double-bind” a statement — are you guilty?
- When to say "thank you” and why this is so important
- How to determine if you're a poor listener
- Handling the anger of others
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