Striking a fine balance between listening and speaking is the key to good conversation skills that help build rapport, attract buy-ins, help get your point across succinctly and can be leveraged to get desired results. Outlined below is a list of conversation winners that can come to your aid:
Speak with clarity:
If people frequently tell you “I don’t understand” step back and evaluate your speaking skills. Do you dictate, sound patronising or talk too fast? Practice speaking slower, calibrating your style & vocabulary to suit your audience. Remember, it is not just what you say but how you say it that also matters.
In some meetings when you are dressing managers and executives from other functional areas the speaker must give a brief background to the point and if it involves some technical or professional knowledge explain to the listeners briefly about that knowledge so that they can understand that point of the agenda. If a supply chain management manager is talking on a point regarding changing inventory control policy he must briefly elaborate on the same before indicating the advantages or disadvantages.
Listen carefully and attentively:
Most people don’t focus well on listening; instead they just wait to speak. By displaying good listening skills, you build trust and show interest. Asking relevant questions, using positive gestures like eye contact, nodding or smiling and picking up the thread of the conversation shows you are ‘really’ engaged and empathetic. Listening also makes one understand clearly others point pf view and particularly may prove to be a useful skill during B2B meetings where one can close the deals favorably on a win-win note.
Allow others to express their opinions:
Allow them to give others their clarification and help them by letting them know what exactly you want. Conversation, like a game of tennis, is a two-way process. Use it to extract others’ opinions and not just as a tool for telling them yours. View pauses & short silences as time to think and respond.
Extroverts have natural flair for conducting conversation but the real skill lies in including the quieter ones, who may be struggle to get their point across but do have valuable views to contribute. Encourage introverts to speak and even help them to give a clarity to their point by explaining to others in the meeting after taking the consent from the speaker.
Respect the fact that people have differing opinions, which makes conversation interesting and lively. Instead of launching on a single-minded mission to prove yourself correct, when faced with a challenge to your opinion, accept gracefully saying “It is possible to have differing views on this subject, and you may be right. My personal view is.” In short disagree gracefully.
Use tact to change the subject, which at times maybe needed to retain focus or to deflect to neutral territory. Steer smartly during a break in the conversation but if the break doesn’t come, interject saying “Tell me more about” or “Going back to.”
Resist the urge to be a ‘know-all’: Despite all your success and depth of knowledge, accept the fact that you cannot have all the answers. So, wait for people to ask for your advice.
In short, get others to speak, practice active listening, know what to say and how to say it and most importantly, when to say nothing. Sometimes saying nothing or keeping silent may also yield solution as other participants including outside customers may come out with more acceptable solutions than you expect. This sometimes happen during ‘Salary negotiation’ stage post interview. The employer or interviewer may reveal a salary package which can be beyond your expectations.