Mastering effective communications skills can put you ahead of your competition when you interact with your clients and business partners.
To gain new skills to master conversations, consider attending the one-day Communication Skills Training Course delivered by pdtraining in Hamilton, Dunedin and many other cities in New Zealand.
Engaging in interesting, memorable small talk is a daunting task for most people, especially with strangers. How do you know what to share and when to share it? How do you know what topics to avoid? How do you become an engaging conversationalist?
Many experts propose a simple three-level framework that you can use to master the art of conversation. Identifying where you are and where you should be is not always easy, but having an objective outline can help you find your way through uncomfortable situations.
Level 1: Discussing General Topics
At the most basic level, stick to general topics: the weather, sports, non-controversial world events, movies, and books. This is typically what people refer to when they say, “small talk.”
At this stage, you will focus on facts rather than feelings, ideas, and perspectives. Death, religion, and politics are absolute no-no’s. (The exception is when you know someone has had an illness or death in the family and wish to express condolences. In this situation, keep your condolences sincere, brief, and to the point.)
If someone shares a fact that you feel is not true, try to refrain from pointing out the discrepancy. If you are asked about the fact, it’s OK simply to say, “I wasn’t aware of that,” or make some other neutral comment.
Right now, you are simply getting to know the other party. Keep an eye out for common ground while you are communicating. Use open-ended questions and listening skills to get as much out of the conversation as possible.
Level 2: Sharing Ideas and Perspectives
If the first level of conversation goes well, the parties should feel comfortable with each other and have identified some common ground. Now it’s time to move a bit beyond general facts and share different ideas and perspectives.
It is important to note that not all personal experiences are appropriate to share at this level. For example, it is fine to share that you like cross-country skiing and went to Europe, but you may not want to share the fact that you took out a personal loan to do so.
Although this level of conversation is the one most often used, and is the most conducive to relationship building and opening communication channels, make sure that you don’t limit yourself to one person in a large social gathering. We’ll offer some ways to mingle successfully in a few moments.
Level 3: Sharing Personal Experiences
This is the most personal level of conversation. This is where everything is on the table and personal details are being shared. This level is typically not appropriate for a social, casual meeting. However, all of the skills that we have learned today are crucial at this stage in particular: when people are talking about matters of the heart, they require our complete attention, excellent listening skills, and skilled probing with appropriate questions.