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I’ve seen it a hundred times. In coffee shops, on the water cooler and at networking events everywhere. An avid young entrepreneur tries to impress a potential client with a lengthy monologue about their exotic experiences. “I just can’t say enough good things about Bali,” they say, fold out their cell phones and scroll through an endless flood of pictures.
I understand what they’re doing: they’re trying to make connections. And what better way to build a relationship than making yourself seem more interesting and showing off a variety of videos of your exciting escapade?
But what actually happens while you are enthusiastically talking about your last trip: glossing over people’s eyes – you lose them.
The reason for this is loud Researcher Gus Cooney, a social psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, for what is known as the “novelty penalty.” The key point is that talking about something completely new alienates people who may not be familiar with the topic of your conversation. Sure, Bali is exciting, but people just can’t relate to a place they’ve never been before.
“The novelty penalty could explain why a description of an exotic vacation is often noticed by your colleagues unless they have been to the place themselves,” writes David Robson for BBC.
Building better connections is vital for business owners; you could even say it is our elixir of life. But just like in the scenario above, there are a lot of conversation traps that we can easily get into. For this reason, I would like to offer you some strategies for staying aware of your communication.
Related: Why Mastering Conversation Makes You More Money
Be sensitive to the time
Write for Harvard Business Review, Robbie Samuels urges us to acknowledge that we have all been through a lot in the past 18 months.
This means that we are also a little ill-prepared for small talk.
Our personal travels have changed a lot in the last year, writes Samuels, so it is understandable if we are cautious about this. “The usual ‘What did you do on vacation?’ Conversation won’t be enough, but that doesn’t mean we have to resort to “Hey, how many emotional breakdowns did you have in 2020″. either.”
Many leaders will try to systematize their communication, but that will only make you robotic and deaf. In my company Jotform we are a team of more than 300 employees on different continents. I cannot say that this pandemic has not changed our relationship with one another. Everyone has faced different challenges and therefore has different needs. This means that my conversations are not the same with everyone.
If there is anything I can convey, it is this: We should humanize our conversation habits in order to make better connections. And that starts with the following:
Ask questions but also be active listening
“If you want to have a meaningful dialogue with someone, rather than two ‘clashing monologues,’ then you should take the trouble to ask a few questions,” says Robson.
Instead of telling too much about your last stay in Bali, ask the other person (whether colleague or potential customer) about their own experiences – what’s new about them? But remember to be honest when you ask. Don’t just wait for their answer and change the subject right away. listen attentive with serious curiosity.
When I go to a running meeting with an employee, I ask about their family and how they deal with their workload. How do you adjust return to work? Is there anything that you particularly look forward to during the holidays?
It’s that simple: questions + active listening = care.
“The first key to being well spoken is making others feel like they’re being heard well,” writes Jane Chin for Inc. “We focus too much on what to say next and form funny responses in our heads instead of showing full presence to the person speaking.”
The art of listening is just as important as the art of speaking. “When the other person really feels ‘heard’, that person will perceive that you are interested in what he / she is saying, and this can make you more personable and better spoken.”
Related: These tips will help you organize any conversation
Center shared human experiences
I will never forget a college mentor who took the time after class to ask an embarrassing Turkish transplant like me about my experience moving abroad. He was from the west coast and talked about being homesick at times. Although it wasn’t the same, he understood what it felt like to be an outsider.
Those little moments weren’t just simple, everyday small talk – they were meaningful conversations that made me feel less alone.
Relying on shared experiences gives us common ground in the best sense of the word and strengthens our solidarity – whether acquaintances or even strangers. Nicholas Epley, Professor of Behavioral Science at the University of Chicago, tells BBC, “In these deep conversations, you get into another person’s thoughts and you can see that the other person really cares about you.”
Related: 7 Ways to Have a Comfortable Conversation With a Negative Person
Leave your ego at the door
This seems like a given, but try to limit how much you talk about yourself. Just right? But it’s actually one of the biggest barriers entrepreneurs face when communicating. It is very natural for you to try to spice things up yourself and your business because you think this is the way to get your audience interested. But it actually has the opposite effect.
The problem is that many leaders mix ego with self-confidence. But talking a mile a minute and constantly interrupting the other person just makes you appear pompous, not confident.
My advice to young and seasoned entrepreneurs is to reduce it. Inhale and walk every step. “Humility and gratitude are cornerstones of selflessness,” write HBR co-authors Rasmus Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter.
“Make a habit of taking a moment at the end of each day to think about all of the people who helped make you successful that day,” they add. “This will help you develop a natural sense of humility by seeing that you are not the only reason for your success.”
And it also makes you a much more interesting conversation partner.
Related: 15 Ways to Have a Conversation Like a Boss