Conversations are a gateway to opportunities. Any kind of conversation, depending on the way it is had and the purpose for which it is had can either increase relevance or diminish it. Many of us find ourselves preparing for only tough conversations such as job interviews. But there should be preparation for all the conversations we have throughout the day. By attaching a purpose, you create the gateway to learn something new, nurture the relationship or even build better conversational skills. However, many of us do not nurture our conversational skills.
We prepare for many things in life, like what we will wear to work on a Monday morning or what interesting activity can take up our weekend. But do we ever plan on how we can improve our conversational skills? There are a lot of relevant skills we must attain as leaders, entrepreneurs, employers, employees and people in relevant positions. One of those skills we badly need but fail to nurture and develop is that which allows us to have and sustain confident, coherent conversation. The human voice is an instrument, an asset that can create war or peace, influence others or infuriate them.
To have more engaging and more purposeful conversations, you can follow these key tips:
- Appreciate the person in front of you: When conversing with someone, remind yourself you are dealing with a whole and complex human. Appreciate and recognize the person’s complexity: her intelligence, kindness, humour, beauty, resolve, and quirkiness.
- Ask for a story — or lead with one: Our brains are wired for stories. Have you noticed how much you pay attention to stories told to you by others? Stories provide meaning, purpose, emotion, and can render us more empathetic. Lead with a revealing story that tells a greater truth about the world or yourself. Ask your partner to tell a story in response.
- Deep listening – The Buddhist practice of deep listening holds deep wisdom. According to the precept, a lack of true listening causes suffering. Equally so, unkind and unmindful speech hurts others. When in conversation, use the idea that your deep and intentional listening can help the person across from you. When you deliberately silence your own voice and focus on your partner, you demonstrate a deep and accepting absorption of their words, ideas, and feelings.
The art of speaking has become a relevant skill I share with all coachees of mine. From high-level executives to entrepreneurs and employees, one common yet important skill they realize they need is that which allows them to have meaningful conversations. A conversation does not necessarily have to be between two people or a small group of people. Giving a speech is a conversation is your intention is to pass on a message and receive feedback, whether good or bad. Can you remember the last time you had a great conversation? I am certain you felt a strong connection between yourself and that business partner or even the stranger you met at a conference. Have you ever encountered a person in a discussion who made you feel inspired and fired up to change the world? I have left many business meetings and casual meet-ups where I felt perfectly understood. But I have also been engaged in chats where I left feeling disappointed and empty on the inside. In extreme cases, I thought that I had wasted my time.
In moments where I had great dialogues, there were a few things I was aware of. I was fully present emotionally, mentally and physically. In fact, I rarely felt the need to pick up my phone in attempt to escape. You have felt the need to go to the extreme so you can escape a boring conversation, haven’t you? You had no will to continue listening and you lost focus. You may have even replayed an interesting moment from past interesting interactions just so you can tolerate the present moment. We have all been there. In instances where we feel fully engaged, we listen. We listen to learn and not to simply reply. We listen attentively without being quick to give our own opinion because the person speaking to us is doing something right.
Have you ever walked away from a conversation where you bought a product or a service after speaking to someone who did not directly sell that item to you? As workers, we always have something to sell. There are ways in which to sell your business without directly using a simple conversational as a promotional opportunity. Just by being yourself, you can sell yourself and your business. The most important detail about speaking to sell is about being fully present as yourself and making a meaningful connection with the person or crowd you are engaging. If you were to mirror yourself and have a conversation with yourself, what would you say you’re like? Would you find yourself to be interactive, engaging, full of power and great ideas? Would you have established an invaluable link with the message you are delivering?
There are many things that make for a great conversation. The ability to listen is only one of them. The second thing that makes your message attractive is the manner in which you deliver it. It matters significantly the content of your message, speech or presentation. You do not have to be in an important business meeting before you communicate positively. Many of us are fond of speaking negatively, complaining, exaggerating and making excuses in our daily interactions. What you do out of habit, you may unintentionally do even when a unique opportunity presents itself. The content of your conversation matters! What equally matters is what your delivery achieves. There are several ways in which people deliver ideas, concepts, speeches, business pitches and different lectures. And for the approaches that stand out, they get the results they desire.
As a coach, one thing I have come to appreciate when I am in conversation with my mentees and coachees is the ability to connect with them. As we interact, I am able to synchronize with them in mind. Making a connection is not limited to making someone feel same or similar emotion. It is more than that. You can make them believe in your idea but creating patterns that conceive the same idea in their brains. How do you know you have made a connection or you have made impact? Your communication should be capable of changing how a single person or maybe a thousand others shape their action, immediately or in the future.
If you are a leader, a business executive, a corporate employee or an entrepreneur, you are required to inspire action. Here are 4 simple keys to start with.
- A reason to care
It is simple and easy to speak to people who care about the same things you care about. Finding such people however, may not be so simple. In your conversation, you must make it your objective to not only sustain the attention of a prospect but give them a reason to care about the topic of discussion. If you are able to do this, inspiring them to take a particular action becomes simple. An investor will only give money to a cause he not only believes in but one he cares about. One that does not only make sense but one he feels strongly about to make impact.
Language can be many things. It can be words or action or simply the conveyance of a message in a way that is understood and appreciated in the way it should be appreciated. Before you sell an idea or concept to someone else, test it out on the people you believe understand you without fault; your friends. They will be able to point out the loop holes in the language you use and in your idea. The language someone may understand is not limited to English words. It could be having that conversation in an environment they like or showing concern for happenings in their personal life.
In order to sustain a conversation, the subject matter must be as interesting as how you talk about it. Think about whom you are speaking to and adjust to the temperature of the situation. You will not speak the same way when you are making a marriage proposal as when you are making a speech or giving a business presentation. Train your voice to have depth because it shows that you have authority and power. Speak at a pace in which you will be understood. Slow down to make emphasis where need. Take a pause to allow your message to be assimilated. The depth of your voice, its timbre, prosody and pace can positively affect how your message is receive or create a negative reputation for you.
- Be Present
To be present is to be fully aware of your environment and to instinctively adjust when needed. There may be helpful rules available to help you prepare but being present will save you in unexpected situations. Imagine a substitute is sent to have a meeting with you in place of someone you had used as a subject matter in practice? Will you flee from the meeting or will you take the core from the tips you know and deliver exceptionally as expected? Anything is possible if you remain present, focused and alert.
Always remember to speak your truth with honesty, authenticity, integrity and kindness. You can sell who you are and make the impression you ought to make. You do not have to be in an interview to sell yourself. If you can be present given any opportunity, you can make the most of the situation and achieve many great things. So, whenever you are having a conversation, whether a business one or a casual one, create a purpose in mind, adjust to the climate and make your mark.
Are you ready for TRANSFORMATION?
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo: The H.E.L.P. Coach
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo is a Personal Impact, Professional Growth and Influence Expert specializing in Humanness, Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Power – H.E.L.P.
A career spanning over two decades, she has established herself as a Certified High Performance Coach, Speaker, Author, Wellness Expert and award-winning Entrepreneur with a clientele ranging from C-Suite Executives, Senior Management, Practitioners and Sales Leaders spanning 3 continents.
She is the Founder of Dzigbordi K. Dosoo (DKD) Holdings; a premier lifestyle business group with brand subsidiaries that include Dzigbordi Consulting Group& Allure Africa.
Dzigbordi has been featured on CNN for her entrepreneurial expertise. She is one of the most decorated female entrepreneurs in Ghana having being named “CIMG Marketing Woman of the Year” in 2009; “Top 10 most respected CEOs in Ghana, 2012; Global Heart of Leadership Award and, Women Rising “100 Most Influential Ghanaian Women”, 2017.
She can be reached on [email protected] and @dzigbordikwaku across all social media platforms.