They say that silence is golden, but if you have to talk, then it can’t hurt to equip yourself to handle the transaction. In business relationships, there are dos and don’ts as there are when you’re relating with anyone. If you take nothing else from this article, just remember that your conversations with fellow professionals are not unlike those you have with anyone in life. Being genuine, straightforward, and appropriate is what brings success in professional relationships. Here are a few reminders to keep you on the right track.
Flattery has its place, and as we’ll talk about a little later, it works better if you’re sincere. You know when you’re trying to pick up a girl (or a guy) at a bar (or wherever you are), and you use some manipulative language to coerce this person to win them over? That’s the dangerous kind. All business relationships are based on trust, and isn’t that exactly what is compromised when you give someone a compliment that you don’t believe to be true? Your goal, when you flatter someone, should be to express something you truly appreciate about them.
Take it from a person who has said the wrong thing at the wrong time more often than not: it’s hardly ever a good idea to blurt every thought you have. Here a couple of guidelines to help you stay on the safe side:
Telling a joke in conversation seems easy, but saying an appropriate joke that kills can be really difficult to do. You have to first find your opening (your best shot is during a pause, just after the last speaker said something already upbeat), and there is no reason to take any risk with something controversial, especially in business conversations. As a general rule, whoever your audience may be should be mildly entertained and then quickly forget about it. Yes, you might just have a brilliant one-liner that would have everyone laughing uproariously, but you might just as easily hear crickets. Why take the chance?
Are You Genuine?
Be sincere. Always be sincere. As skilled as you are at getting into the good graces of your audience, you would be surprised how perceptive people are. There is a barometer in all of us that knows when something is a little off about what we’re hearing, which can automatically endear us to the speaker, or turn us off completely.
A wise man once told me that the smartest people he ever met were the best listeners. The ones who shoot off at the mouth without paying much attention to the person they’re talking to are almost always the ones who have the least to say. Those people who truly listen during conversation not only show that the conversation matters to them, but they are also able to give valuable feedback. There’s really no way to have a professional conversation without good listening.
A Loss for Words
So what do you do when you know you have to respond to someone, and you realize you have nothing to say? This happens to all of us at times; there’s no reason to be afraid of it because it’s natural. There may not be a response. So, when it does happen, you have 2 options: #1: Change the subject. #2: Ask if they have any other thoughts on the subject. Also, keep in mind that it’s not the worst thing in the world to have an awkward silence; you can learn a lot about the person you’re talking to by watching how they respond to the silence while you observe—but always exude confidence at the same time.
What does your business look like from the outside? Here are some ways you can improve your image:
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Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.
Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.