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”.
You responded! You agreed with Dr. Silbergleit and you added your own list of grating speech habits.
More bad speech behaviors to avoid
1️⃣ Dr. Steve Spivack: “What about ‘you know what I mean’ and ‘Hum’”?
➜ Note: Both of these are filler clutter.
“You know what I mean” at the end of a thought makes the speaker appear less confident. You are asking for approval for what you just said. Total waste of words.
🎤 Tip: Stop! Don’t ask this type of question.
“Hum” is in the category of verbal clutter. Its cousins are “um”, “you know”, and “uh”.
🎤 Tip: Pause instead of adding clutter.
2️⃣ Barbara Franklin: “Reminds me of kids saying ‘like’ – every second word.”
➜ Note: The ‘like’ epidemic applies to all of us, not just kids.
“Like, when you hear someone, like, say ‘like’, you might want to scream. But, like, listen to yourself and, like, monitor your own use of this word.”
🎤 Tip: Ask a close friend to be your “’like’ accomplice”. Have that person keep a “’like’ tab”. Become aware of how often you use this word and then be a self-monitor.
3️⃣ Harry Hall, a fellow communication consultant, on correcting Upspeak (ending all sentences as if they’re questions): “Playback a recording of them doing it. That fixes it pretty quickly.” Harry added, “Upspeak totally undermines credibility.” Agreed!
Whether you’re pumped or dreading your presentation, you, the speaker, must answer these 3 questions in order to engage your audience.
🎯 Question #1 to create buy-in ➜
Do you know what you’re talking about?
You answer, “Of course!” But, does your audience know that you know?
Tip: Share your credibility through stories. We call this “credibility sprinkles”.
Ex: “When I spoke to 900 home inspectors in California at their annual association meeting I asked them what ‘BS’ stood for and they shouted out ‘better service!’”
🎯 Question #2 to maintain buy-in ➜
Do you care about what you’re talking about?
You do not need to be a raging extrovert. In fact, introverts make great speakers.
Tip: You show your passion for your subject through your nonverbal actions.
Do: Smile, have good posture, exhibit effective eye contact.
🎯 Question #3 to go beyond buy-in ➜
Do you really know who you’re talking to?
Tip: Gather your intel.
Find out: Where is their pain? What makes them tick? What are they good at? Who competes with them? Where can they improve? What defines success for them? How knowledgeable are they about your topic? Experience range?
🎯 Your audiences are distracted, tired or deadline driven. AKA: Overwhelmed. Do them a favor. Nail these answers in order to share your value.
“You’ve run a very popular and expensive restaurant – that has your name on the door – for over 16 years… and it’s a competitive market here in Dallas. What do you attribute your success to?” asks the Dallas Morning News food editor to Dean Fearing.
Dean replies, “There are 3 components. First, consistency. We serve great food every day. Second, personability. I decided that I’d greet our customers at every table on a daily basis. I’ve done this from day one. Third, a great wait staff. We have a wonderful team at Fearing’s Restaurant.”
The parallels between Fearing’s top rated restaurant and 5-star communication skills
Consistency. Just like the expectations you have for a fine meal when entering a fine dining establishment, your team/board/stake holders expect you to communicate compelling content with clarity and confidence on a consistent basis.
Personability. You do business with people you know, like and trust. Let’s drill down on the word “like”. Be likeable, like Dean Fearing. Communicate with respect, listen with genuine interest and create an atmosphere of good will.
Leadership. Whether you run a billion dollar organization or you’re a solopreneur, you and your company represent and communicate your brand.
Once a year my daughter and I have an all-day spa date and one year we went to the Ritz Carlton. We began our day having lunch at their restaurant, Fearing’s. As we ate our delicious lunch, guess who came over to chat? Chef Fearing.