A conversation requires balance between talking and listening and somewhere along the way this balance is frequently lost. Talking to people of diverse backgrounds, such as seafarers, office executives, CEOs and ship owners can be a challenging process. Stereotypical advice, such as making eye contact, smiling back or nodding may be misleading. Below are the 10 crucial tips in turning a conversation into an enjoyable experience and walking away feeling both engaged and inspired.
1. Stay focused
Do not multitask; pay attention so as to be present and immersed in the conversation without being distracted by outer factors.
2. Use open-ended questions
Imitate a journalistic approach on making questions: who, what, when, where, why or how. The simpler the question is, the simpler the answer will be.
3. Find commonalities
Everybody has flaws but try to build a relationship with other people; focus on things you have in common and keep in mind that everyone knows something that you don’t.
4. Admit you don’t know
If you don’t know, just say it! Choose honesty over risk of exposure. You cannot be an expert in every issue. Enter a conversation with the goal to learn something new.
5. Do not show off
Don’t seize the opportunity to promote yourself. Do not try to display your abilities or accomplishments and become the center of attention. Listen to others’ experience; they are different and individual.
This is the most important skill; it takes much effort and energy to pay attention but it’s worth it. Listen with the intent to understand others and not to just reply.
7. Be brief
A good conversation is like a miniskirt; short enough to retain interest, but long enough to cover the subject. Avoid details out of interest.
8. Do not repeat yourself
Avoid rephrasing your words over and over as it is boring and may lead to a patronizing attitude.
9. Be cautious
Your words will be forgotten but how you make people feel will be remembered. Reply to respect with respect and to rudeness with indifference.
10. Be yourself
Don’t be afraid to be you. Others will like you, others won’t and that is normal. Be authentic.