How to talk to anyone in any situation
If you want to be ready to talk to anyone; to be entirely confident; to be looking forward to connecting with people in any situation, here are three strategies to ensure you succeed;
1. Decide What You Want
Every really successful communicator we’ve worked with has one thing in common; they know what they want.
So, if you’re off to a party, a company ‘do’, a networking event, etc., just take a moment to work out what you want out get out of it. You may decide you just want to have a really good time. Well, that’s fine because you always get what you focus on!
2. Be Prepared
Any actor or athlete will tell you that, if you want to perform well, you have to rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.
Take a leaf out of their book and do the same. So, make sure you have your own introduction sorted out and at least be ready to respond creatively when people ask you:
- Who are you?
- What do you do?
- Where do you live?
- How do you know Paul and Molly?
And if you’re going to a particular social event, for example, a cricket club dinner, a charity fund raising evening, etc. then be sure to gen up on the club or charity and make yourself familiar with some of the terminology the other guests are likely to use.
3. Become Interesting By Being Interested
When it comes to social settings, we sometimes get too caught up in the idea that it’s all about what we say; that we are judged by our output; that being interesting is inextricably linked to our ability to amuse, entertain and hold court.
Actually, it’s the opposite. The people who are welcomed most warmly are those who show a genuine interest in others. So, if you want to be that person, then you need to develop the two most powerful skills there are; listening and questioning.
So, how do you listen and what helps you to listen?
- Do whatever you can to ‘stop the noise’ – those are the other thoughts that come into your head when others are speaking
- Concentrate totally on the speaker and what is being said
- Avoid the temptation of starting to prepare your reply before they have finished
- Avoid assumptions and rushing to judgement
- Give visual encouragement to the speaker – make good eye contact, smile, nod
- Give verbal and vocal encouragement to the speaker – use phrases such as “yes”, “I see”, “I understand” or even just sounds like “mmm” or “ah”
- Don’t interrupt
- Don’t rush to fill a silence
- If you want to be sure that you’ve understood a particular point, reflect it back to the speaker and check that this really is what they meant
- When you want to remember a detail, repeat it immediately
Ask great questions
The best questions to ask are Open Questions. Let’s just identify the words to use that ALWAYS start an open question.
What, when, where, who, how, why, which.
The other method of getting great information is to use, ‘Tell me…..’
‘Tell me about your holiday.’
‘Tell me how you got on.’
‘Tell me more.’
Use these strategies consistently and you’ll soon find they become second nature. And as they do, your confidence will grow along with the invitations you receive!
Emma Sargent and Tim Fearon are founders of The Extraordinary Coaching Company (www.theextraordinarycoachingcompany.com) and have just released How You
Can Talk To Anyone, published by Pearson.
Photo credit: gin_able