You’re headed into this holiday season. You’ll probably encounter extended family and friends. Your conversations will start with small talk, defined as “polite and standard conversation about unimportant things.”
While small talk might seem trivial, it can net big benefits – around the holiday table and in your various business settings.
This initial type of conversation can help drive richer connections by finding common interests while also demonstrating empathy. At the very least you’ll gain more insights about the other person.
Abrahams defines these two types of responses. “Tell me more” is a support response. You are supporting what the other person says. You are inviting the other person to keep expressing themselves. You are winning the gold medal of active listening.
“Shift responses” create the opposite outcome. You shift away from the other person and hook back to your own agenda. In essence, you hijack the conversation.
Example: “We really had a rough travel day! Got stuck in Chicago for 3 hours and missed the connection at DFW.”
Support response: “Tell me more.”
Shift response: “You think that was bad, one time we were going to JFK but landed in Philadelphia because JFK flooded!”
You might have a great story about your JFK/Philly calamity but you’ve shut down the other person.
Other “support responses”
In addition to the best response, “tell me more”, other support responses include asking more questions about the details of the event or the emotions around the event. “What happened next?” or “Did that make you go crazy?” or “How did you handle that?”
When to use “shift responses”
You don’t want to sound like you’re doing a legal deposition either! There does come a time to share your own anecdotes and experiences. Give and take conversations create more meaningful encounters.
So, as you head into the holiday season remember that information talks and wisdom listens. Use more “support responses”.
“Credibility Sprinkles” ➜ When you sprinkle your past experiences into your narrative to increase buy-in from your audience. Ex from Scott Galloway’s recent blog – “I got my start building companies, telling stories. Later I became a professor at NYU. Now I tell stories on a stage in front of 150 to 15,000 people who pay between 100k to 250k…”
“Gen Zs” ➜ The generation born between 1995 – 2012, ranging now from age 11 to 28. Main qualifiers of this group: Tech dependent, gender neutral and cause driven.
During a speaker training workshop I said, “Add in some Credibility Sprinkles while sharing stories. This will increase your believability with your listeners.” A millennial dentist then commented, “Gen Z’s don’t like that. Adding in your track record, no matter how subtle your approach, will alienate them.” I replied, “Know the age ranges in your audience.”
To this workshop attendee’s point, this generational shift is happening and here are the reasons why Gen Z’s don’t want to hear about your stellar track record.
Gen Z convictions.
According to TrendsActive.com, Gen Z’s resentment stems from “older generations thinking they know better than younger generations – with age comes wisdom and all that. Considering the state of the environment, the housing market and various societal inequalities at the hands of older generations, Generation Z is forced to question whether older really does mean wiser.”
Gen Z is DONE with older generations deciding what is best. Their collective exhaustion derives from feeling misrepresented with a dash of condescension.
How can you engage with this Gen Z mindset?
TrendsActive provides these wise suggestions:
Understand that Generation Z are progressive, realistic and responsible.
Treat them as adults.
Be open and honest and hear what they have to say.
How this transformative Hebrew word can clarify the way you think, communicate and act ➜
Dayenu (die – YAY – nu) defined
The Hebrew translation is “That would be sufficient”, and boiled down to one word … “ENOUGH”.
It’s also the title of a traditional one-thousand-years-old upbeat song that’s part of the Jewish holiday Passover. Every year as my family celebrates Passover we have a “Seder”, a special dinner, and we each read a paragraph from the “Haggadah” – the telling of the story of the exodus from slavery in Egypt to the freedom beyond; and we sing “Dayenu”.
This song is about being grateful to G-d for the gifts given to the Jewish people. A few lines:
“If G-d had brought us out from Egypt … Dayenu, it would have been sufficient!”
“If G-d had fed us only matza … Dayenu, it would have been sufficient!”
Dayenu in your life
❓ What’s “Dayenu / Enough” for you regarding money, possessions, or even Linked In likes & impressions?
❓ What’s “Dayenu / Enough” in terms of your professional achievements?
❓ What’s “Dayenu / Enough” when thinking about the relationships in your life?
❓ What would make you say, “Yes, that (fill in the blank) would be sufficient. That would be enough”?
You tell me… or rather, you tell yourself.
Dayenu in my life
This pic is our out-door Seder during the pandemic. Thank you, Nina & Bob, for being such gracious hosts every year. Dayenu.
We will once again sit around this table this week with loved ones and sing this song. That would be sufficient. Dayenu.
“You have a superpower that you might not know about: the power to make another person glow,” reports Stephanie Harrison, happiness and well-being expert, in a study she conducted.
Her study finds that we underestimate how happy someone feels after recognition.
3 phrases that pack a positive punch
“You are making a difference.”
Don’t think, “That’s cheesy.”
Do ask yourself, “How can I encourage others in micro or macro ways?”
“Did you see how that team leader proudly walked out with a huge smile? You are making a difference.”
“The money you raised at our silent auction will help fund our museum awareness campaign. You are making a difference.”
“You inspire me.”
Ask yourself, “Who has inspired me lately?”
Harrison provides this helpful script:
“You inspire me …”
Then add the reason why: “… in the way you show up for your team…”
Finally, share the impact it has had: “… and it’s made me think about how I can be more collaborative.”
Barbara Franklin’s Art Show
“Barbara, you inspire me. You’ve embraced your passion as an artist and now you’re exhibiting at art shows. It makes me think about how I can continue to sharpen and share my passion for speaking.”
“Tell me more about that.”
Disclaimer: It’s one of my favorite phrases that I’ve blogged about before. Saying these words make you a better listener which makes you a better communicator.
Harrison adds, “Being listened to helps people feel safe, supported and acknowledged. One thing that’s guaranteed to make someone’s day: asking them to tell you more about their interests, feelings and experiences.”
To create space for others to open up Harrison suggests:
Find out what is important to them: “What do you do that’s meaningful to you?
Ask them to elaborate on their experience: “What did it feel like when you heard you’d won the deal?”
Invite them to go deeper: “Tell me more about how you interpreted that feedback.”
Emerging from the pandemic might create socially awkward moments. Use these phrases to ease your anxiety and increase your authentic conversational good will with others.
Harrison shows, “There’s a bonus in store for you: It doesn’t just make the other person glow; it ends up making you glow, too.”
You’re about to celebrate the holiday season. That means you may be in conversation with your extended family for several days.
Potential landmines: You notice someone else (not you) is wearing a family heirloom you thought you were getting. You have a political divide at the table as deep as the turkey breast is dry. Your second cousin asks you for the fifth year why you aren’t married.
Your Speak For Yourself® Holiday Communication Playbook!
Know the score. You know I preach that you must know the background of your audience BEFORE you get on stage, or do your pitch, or have your strategy meeting. Why is Family Time any different? Figure out ahead of time what the tough subjects might be, who will be at the event(s), what’s the pulse of the group.
Don’t engage. That’s right. DON’T engage. Read #1. IF there are issues, and you cannot solve them, then don’t get involved. (I’ll try to adhere to this.)
Listen. Always a winner! In business and in your personal life, listen more than you talk. (I’ll try to adhere to this…) Information talks, and wisdom listens.
Ask questions. Going along with #3, the way you will strengthen your listening skills is to ask questions and really hear what your family members are saying. Let them do the talking.
Empower others. Even when you want to kill that second cousin for commenting once again on your marital status, can you find something nice to say about them? You like their watch. You think they did a good job on the pecan pie. You love their kid. Find something to compliment! This works. It’s only manipulative if you’re lying. So don’t lie. But still find something to praise about the other.
Drink scotch. Enough said. (But then don’t over do it & don’t drive.)
Remember your own strengths. Give yourself a break. My mom, of blessed memory, always said, “Karen, know who you are and where you come from”. Enter into these gatherings knowing your own good stuff. That positive self-awareness is the perfect antidote for snarky crazy stuff.