The way you talk to, co-workers and clients can make a big difference in the way you’re perceived on the job and how you move up the ladder. People with strong conversational intelligence have the power to connect and build trust, says Judith Glaser, author of Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust & Get Extraordinary Results.
She offers five ways to improve your conversational-intelligence skills.
1. Join, don’t judge. A key to establishing trust in a conversation is nonjudgmental listening.connects and builds bonds—it is a unifying force—while judgment seeks to separate and establish a difference, and is based on a right vs. wrong mentality. If you are judging, no doubt the talker will sense it and put up her defenses.
2. Avoid leading questions. When you ask questions to which you already know the answers, people can sense it and it comes across as manipulative. Instead, ask questions for which you truly don’t have an answer. This will open up your conversations and make the people you’re speaking to feel free to co-create and share their perspectives.
3. Make it personal. The first step to building trust is building rapport, which is mutual understanding. Take time to get to know people personally. Ask questions and share information about yourself. Once you’ve established rapport, trust comes easily.
4. Know when to pivot. Pivoting is about making a shift—in this case, it’s about knowing when to shift your conversation to avoid getting stuck or to move you away from an unintended reaction. “Use agility skills like reframe, refocus and redirect” to get a chance to start over in a conversation that has taken an unwelcome turn, Glaser says.
5. Softly respond to resistance. When you sense your conversational partner is becoming resistant, shift your responses to remind him that you’re a friend, not a foe. Do this by softening your voice, listening and responding to his needs and giving him personal space.
— Adapted from “How Conversational Intelligence Can Help Your Career,” Dan Schawbel, Intuit’s The Fast Track blog.