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I have seen it a hundred times. In cafes, by the water cooler, and at networking events everywhere. An enthusiastic young entrepreneur tries to impress a potential client with a long monologue about his exotic experience. âI just can’t say enough good things about Bali,â they say, turning their phones over and scrolling through an endless barrage of images.
I understand what they’re doing: they’re trying to connect. And what better way to build relationships than by making yourself appear more interesting and providing tons of videos of your exciting getaway?
But here’s what really happens as you enthusiastically recount your last trip: people’s eyes fade, you lose them.
The reason this is happening, according to researcher Gus Cooney, a social psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, is because of something called the “novelty penalty.” The bottom line is that talking about something completely new alienates people who might not be familiar with your topic of conversation. Of course, Bali is exciting, but people can’t relate to a place they’ve never been before.
“The novelty penalty could explain why a description of an exotic vacation can often fall flat with your coworkers unless they themselves have been to that location,” writes David Robson for BBC.
Building better relationships is essential for entrepreneurs; one could even say that it is our cornerstone. But just like the scenario above, there are plenty of conversation traps we can easily fall into. That’s why I’d like to offer you some strategies to stay aware of the way you communicate.
Related: Why Mastering The Art Of Conversation Will Make You More Money
Be time sensitive
Write for harvard business review, Robbie Samuels asks us to recognize that we have all been through a lot in the past 18 months.
This means that we are also a little ill-prepared for small discussions.
Our personal journeys have varied considerably over the past year, writes Samuels, so it’s understandable that this makes us cautious. “The usual ‘What did you do on vacation?’ conversations won’t be enough, but that doesn’t mean we have to resort to âHey, how many emotional breakdowns have you had in 2020? ” That is.”
Many leaders will try to systematize their communication, but that only makes you robotic and deaf. In my company, Jotform, we are a team of more than 300 employees spread over different continents. I cannot claim that this pandemic has not changed our relationship with each other. Each person has faced different challenges and therefore has different needs. This means that my conversations will not be the same with each individual.
If I can get something across, it’s this: We need to humanize our conversational habits to make better connections. And it starts with the following:
Asking questions, but also actively listening
âIf you want to have a meaningful dialogue with someone – rather than two ‘crossover monologues’ – then you should make the effort to ask a few questions,â Robson emphasizes.
Rather than talking too much about your last trip to Bali, ask the other person (whether it’s a colleague or a potential client) what their own experiences are. But don’t forget to be sincere in your request. Don’t just wait for their response and immediately change the subject either. Listen intently with genuine curiosity.
When I go to a walk-in meeting with an employee, I ask questions about their family and how they manage their workload. How are you adjusting to your return to work? Is there something that you particularly look forward to during the holidays?
It’s that simple: asking + active listening = attention.
“The first key to expressing yourself well is making others feel heard,” writes Jane Chin for Inc. “We focus too much on what we should say next, formulating witty responses. in our head instead of giving full presence to the speaker. “
The art of listening, she notes, is as important as the art of speaking. âWhen the other person really feels ‘heard’, that person will perceive that you care about what they are saying, and that can make you sound more sympathetic and better spoken. “
Related: These Tips Will Help You Rule Any Conversation
Center for shared human experiences
I will never forget an academic mentor who took the time after class to interview a clumsy Turkish transplant like me about my experiences moving abroad. He was from the West Coast and said he got homesick at times. How, even though it wasn’t the same, he understood what it was like to be a stranger.
These little moments weren’t just social chatter – they were meaningful exchanges that made me feel less alone.
At its best, building on shared experiences gives us common ground and strengthens our bonds with each other, whether we are acquaintances or even strangers. Nicholas Epley, professor of behavioral sciences at the University of Chicago, tells BBC, “In these deep conversations, you have access to another person’s mind and you recognize that the other person genuinely cares about you.”
Related: 7 Ways To Have A Nice Conversation With A Negative Person
Leave your ego at the door
It sounds like a no-brainer, but try to limit the number of times you talk about yourself. Easy no? But it’s actually one of the biggest hurdles entrepreneurs face when communicating. It’s natural to try and market yourself and your business, believing that this is the way to engage your audience. But it actually has the opposite effect.
The problem is, many leaders confuse ego with confidence. But talking at a mile a minute and constantly interrupting the other person only makes you look pompous, not confident.
My advice to young and seasoned entrepreneurs is to reduce it. Breathe and pace yourself. âHumility and gratitude are the cornerstones of selflessness,â write HBR co-authors Rasmus Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter.
âMake a habit of taking a moment at the end of each day to reflect on all of the people who were instrumental in your success that day,â they add. âIt helps you develop a natural sense of humility, seeing that you are not the only cause of your success. “
And it will also make you a much more interesting conversation partner.
Related: 15 Ways To Lead A Conversation Like A Boss