We often underestimate the value of a great conversation, as well as the ability to maintain one. And that’s really quite surprising, considering how our 24/7 world can’t exactly seem to stop talking.
Granted, communication can be difficult. A lot of things go unsaid, are misinterpreted, or are plain ignored.
Get it right, though, and magical things can happen. How often have you watched someone obtain precious information, get out of a parking ticket, or coax people into letting them have their way with little more than the gift of gab? Amazing, isn’t it?
Guess what, though? There are a few hacks you can apply to manifest a silver tongue, so to speak:
- Use compliments to avoid workplace drama.
- Silence is key.
- Find common ground during an argument.
- Deflect having to answer tough questions with a simple compliment.
- Call people by name.
- Never underestimate the power of two small words.
- Speaking of “Thank you,” it gets you further than “Sorry.”
- Throw a toddler’s questions right back at him/her.
- Make people feel needed to get them on board.
- Say “You’re right” instead of “I know.”
Conflicts might be unavoidable in the workplace, but you can avoid getting suckered into them via some well-placed compliments. For instance, if your co-workers come to you complaining about a colleague, opt out by complimenting that person. (e.g., “Yeah, but X is quite good with customer service, isn’t s/he?”)
As a bonus, complimenting people behind their back is a sure-fire way to win respect and acceptance among your colleagues.
….when trying to get information, that is. If you ask someone a question and find them hesitant in replying, wait a bit. (Maintain eye contact though.) They’re likely to relent after a beat, and possibly even spill more than they meant to.
This will help you push your point more successfully. You do need to listen actively to pull this off, though.
In other words, you can start off by acknowledging any truth in what they said. Once they start to relax, respectfully segue into your side of the conversation. You’ll either win the argument or maintain a positive interaction regardless.
Ah, compliments. They really do smooth a lot of things over.
Let’s say you find yourself addressing a crowd and fielding their questions. Then, out of nowhere, someone throws you a tough one. How do you react?
If you’re stuck, deflect. Go with “That’s a really good question,” perhaps praise their critical turn of mind, and so on. They’ll probably be too pleased with themselves to notice whatever answer you come up with afterwards.
This is especially effective when you’re dealing with people in the service industry. Not only is it a basic courtesy, but it also shows that you see them as people, and not just as cogs in a machine. Provided that you do so politely, this will make them more likely to prioritize your requests or concerns.
“Thank you.” It’s such a basic concept, but you’ll be surprised at how many adults neglect it. Whether it’s your long-suffering mother or a bank teller, most people appreciate being appreciated. Make sure they feel that way when you’re around, and then reap the rewards of plain old good will.
How do you avoid over-apologizing? Say “thank you” instead. If you arrive late, say “thank you for waiting.” After putting a customer on hold, say “thank you for your patience.”
And if someone apologizes to you, thank them instead of saying it’s okay (especially when it’s really not). This acknowledges their efforts to make things right, while opening up a conversation about how they made you feel.
Ex. “Thank you for apologizing. I really didn’t like it when you said those hurtful things.”
“Why is the sky blue?” “Why is your hair brown?” “Why do we close our eyes when we sleep?”
Toddlers seem to go from their first word to their “why” phase really quickly, eh? While it can be cute, it also gets old really fast.
When you’re out of answers or patience (whichever runs out first), throw the question back at your child. (e.g., “What do you think?”) After they provide feedback, simply nod and then move on.
“I need your help” can surprisingly make someone more eager to help you out. People like to feel essential in making a difference, and giving them that opening can open doors for you as well.
This applies to when someone tells you something that you already know. You would still be confirming what you knkow, but without coming off as a pompous know-it-all.
Good communication skills can prove useful in so many ways, whether in job interviews or simply getting people to like you.
Now, go forth and see where the aforementioned tips will take you.