better conversations

Marketing 101: 4 Expert Tips for Better Conversations

At its core, marketing is about successfully communicating. Though much of our communication in the 21st Century takes place in email and on social media, we still have marketing conversations on the phone, in person and via video calls. It’s critical to ensure those in-person conversations are successful, which brings us to how to have better conversations.

Many have us have spent precious time trying to undo a “miscommunication”. Has that prevented you from doing something more productive? Has it caused you to lose a prospective client? Has it been a roadblock to keeping a client?

George Bernard Shaw is widely credited with saying, “The problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” You may think you got your point across. You may think you understood what the other person said. But have you?

When it comes to miscommunication, there are several dynamics in play:

  • There are so many distractions, we can’t seem to focus.
  • Listening is hard!
  • Saying no is easy.
  • Messages don’t reflect what we intend to say.

4 tips for better conversations

If you improve in these areas, you will have better conversations. Better conversations will save you time, help you make more money and help you be even more successful.

1. Get rid of the noise!

Reduce distractions and be in the moment. Put down the device (unless you’re talking on it).  If you are on the phone, turn away from the computer and avoid the temptation to check email, social media, etc.

That’s just the physical stuff you can do. This is the hard one: Stop your mind from wandering. That means being consciously in the present with the person you are talking to.

2. Listen with intent

Stephen Covey once said, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand. They listen with the intent to reply.” We think we need to answer right away so we’re not really paying attention to what is being said and how the message is conveyed.

Words only make up a fraction of a message. Vocal quality (such as enunciation, volume, and pace) and body language (such as eye contact, posture, and facial expressions) have the biggest impact on how messages are delivered.

Here are two things you can do to be intentional in your listening:

Be aware of your own body language

Play this game with a friend or colleague. Write down a few body language behaviors you notice or do. In another column, write down how you interpret that behavior (the other person should do the same). Then each of you strike that pose and ask them to tell you how they interpret the behavior.

What’s the same? What’s different? It can give you both insight.

Paraphrase what was said 

This is one of the best tools you can use. Say, “From what I heard you say…” and repeat back what you understood the message was. Always ask, “Did I get that right?”  It shows empathy and allows the other person to confirm you understood correctly.

3. Build and accept

Have you ever heard of the concept of “Yes, and”?  This is the foundation on which improv comedy is built, and it applies to every day situations.

Instead of replying with “no” or “yeah, but …”, “yes, and” allows for acceptance of ideas and the ability to create better collaboration and understanding. It’s important to note that this does not mean agreement.  There are some great resources on this topic and one book I personally  recommend is Yes, And: How Improvisation Reverses “No, But” Thinking and Improves Creativity and Collaboration–Lessons from The Second City by Kelly Leonard and Tom Yorton.

4. Get your point across – clearly and succinctly

Whether you believe that human adults each have an attention span of 8 seconds (less than a goldfish) or not, being clear and concise in your message is not be a bad thing. Think of the one thing you’re trying to get across. Support it with 2-3 points of evidence, and transition to the next step in the conversation.

Long-winded responses tend to confuse a situation and increases the chances for misunderstanding. If someone needs more information, they’ll ask.

Practice these tips – focus, intentionally listen, accept and build, be clear and concise – and see your professional and personal conversations become more productive, successful and better conversations!

Guest blogger Lori Muhlstein is Chief Expression Officer at Lorim Resources. Lori is an independent facilitator/trainer who focuses on critical communications skills including impromptu speaking, public speaking and team building. In her “other life”, you can find her helping audiences solve crimes in interactive murder mysteries and performing improv with StageCoach Theatre in Ashburn, VA.  She is also passionate about baseball and particularly the Washington Nationals.

Photo by nappy from Pexels

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