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Good con­ver­sa­tion skills help you build rap­port, get buy-ins, get your point across suc­cinctly and lever­age it to get de­sired re­sults.

Make sure you are un­der­stood:

If people say “I don’t un­der­stand…” fre­quently af­ter you have made a com­ment, step back and eval­u­ate your speak­ing skills. Do you dic­tate or talk too fast? Do you find people ’slow-minded’? Up­grade or down­grade your vo­cab­u­lary to suit your au­di­ence, and speak in the lan­guage that con­nects with your lis­tener. Avoid ram­bling or talk­ing ex­ces­sively as it shows lack of fo­cus or con­cern for time.

Lis­ten­ing skills:

Good lis­ten­ing skills help build trust as it shows your

in­ter­est lev­els. Ask rel­e­vant ques­tions, use the per­son’s name of­ten and use ges­tures (eye con­tact, nod­ding, smil­ing) to show you are lis­ten­ing.

Talk­ing to inat­ten­tive people: People who break eye con­tact or look dis­tracted can be brought back into the con­ver­sa­tion by say­ing their name – a skill per­fected by school teach­ers!

Dis­agree­ing grace­fully: Re­spect the fact that people have dif­fer­ent view­points. When it’s ap­par­ent that you’ve reached a road­block, de­flect to a neu­tral topic by say­ing some­thing like - “We have such di­verse view­points, so…”

Chang­ing tracks: To change the sub­ject, steer tact­fully dur­ing a break in the con­ver­sa­tion. If the break does not come, in­ter­ject with - “Tell me more about …” or “Go­ing back to…”

Cut­ting the con­ver­sa­tion short: If you are not in­ter­ested in a con­ver­sa­tion, you can cut it short po­litely. Use non-ver­bal sig­nals like break­ing eye con­tact with the per­son speak­ing. In­tro­duce him/ her to an­other per­son to shift the spot­light or exit po­litely say­ing, “I spotted an ex-col­league...” or “I’m go­ing to the bar for a re­fill”. If you are in a tele­phonic con­ver­sa­tion, ex­tract yourself by say­ing, “I am en­ter­ing a sched­uled tele­con­fer­ence / meet­ing in a cou­ple of min­utes”.

Han­dling the “showoff”: Ig­nore and try to change the topic. Al­ter­nately say “How mag­nif­i­cent” a few times and move on.

Com­mu­ni­cate dis­ap­proval: You can com­mu­ni­cate dis­ap­proval by say­ing noth­ing or com­mu­ni­cat­ing with­out any fa­cial ex­pres­sions. Han­dling con­ver­sa­tion in an el­e­va­tor: Re­sist en­gag­ing in a con­ver­sa­tion in an el­e­va­tor – a smile or nod is ad­e­quate.

End­ing a con­ver­sa­tion: In­di­cate that you are sign­ing off say­ing some­thing like - “Be­fore we fin­ish, I wanted to add…” End grace­fully, say­ing - “It’s been great meet­ing you” or “Thanks for your won­der­ful in­sights”. To­day’s busi­ness lead­ers’ know how to com­mu­ni­cate ef­fec­tively, get oth­ers to speak and prac­tice ac­tive lis­ten­ing. In short, they know what to say, how to say it and when to say noth­ing!

Shi­tal Kakkar Mehra Prac­ti­tioner of Cor­po­rate Eti­quette and In­ter­na­tional Pro­to­col in In­dia

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