8 Tips to Improve Your Conversational Effectiveness
am sure you have all heard the lament, “He/she just does not know how to talk
to people.” As team members laboratorians have to interact with each other and
convey information not only to fellow laboratorians (peers and supervisors) but
to their customers outside the lab as well.
especially brand new managers, just promoted from the bench, might find it
challenging or awkward to have those difficult conversations where someone (possibly
a former peer) has to be counseled or told unpleasant news. Supervisors also
have to arbitrate conflict among co-workers. They also represent the lab to
outsiders and have an extra responsibility to present a professional, conciliatory
matter the nature of the conversation, some very simple rules can help. EAP
Resources, an Atlanta firm providing Employee Assistance Programs to various
organizations, offers some very simple conversation tips.
Use the other person's name from time to time during the talking, such as, “I
agree with you, Betty, and will support your proposal.” Our names are precious
to us and nearly everyone has a feel-good experience when being addressed by
name. “Gary, would you call me tomorrow with the quote?”
Instead of asking general questions such as, “How's it going?” ask specific
personal questions like, “How does your son like dental school?” Being specific
shows that you remember details about matters important to the other person,
such as the family, special interests, and certain individual challenges.
Routine and general questions usually elicit only routine responses like, “Fine
Lighten up the talk with a smile. Even with serious topics, a friendly smile
can be appropriate and can add a measure of good will that is helpful in
advancing understanding. Being overly-serious tends to suppress feelings and
makes the tone of our conversation seem flat and aloof. Relax, drop your
shoulders and breathe.
Respect people's time for talking so that you don't hold them hostage. If
you're uncertain ask, “Do you have a few minutes to talk now?” This is
especially useful for telephone conversations, or even for someone in the lab
who may be busy trying to complete a time-limited task. Work with their schedule.
Give the other party their turn to talk. You can do this by talking in
paragraphs, not chapters, and then signaling it's their turn with a question
like, “What are your thoughts?” Do not talk over the other person or even answer
questions before the questioner has finished asking.
When you're with someone, give your full attention. The gift of your presence
and attention is quietly powerful and strengthens relationships. Fully engaged
listening is rare in our multi-tasking worlds of work and home. When you listen,
just listen. Don't wander. Even
constantly averted eyes or “got to take this call” interruptions can break the
mood, cause interruption in flow and be perceived as a lack of interest-or
End your conversation gracefully and not abruptly. When appropriate, thank or
compliment the other person when you are ending. “I really enjoyed talking with
you and understand the situation much better now. Thanks a lot.”
If possible, recap what you heard and
set a time for follow-up. “So, Bella you are suggesting working 32 hours on weekends
and being off an extra day during the week? I will look at the schedule you
created and get back to you by next Wednesday or Thursday. Thanks for being
creative and please feel free to let me know if you have any other ideas.”
little things add a quality of civility and care to any conversation.
Ultimately, they mean a lot because your attitudes tend to be reciprocated. Some
individuals just simply have a knack for easy conversation; others don’t. If you make an effort to incorporate certain
phrases and to follow some simple rules you will be rewarded with a much more
harmonious and effective workplace.