Conversational Influence

Conversational InfluenceYour potential influence with another person begins the very moment you meet them.

So, it would intuitively seem that in order to impress them and attract them to you, you should be prepared with your elevator pitch or “defining statement” that immediately communicates why they would want to get to know you better.

Intuitive, perhaps? But, highly counterproductive.

Want to quickly elicit the know, like and trust feelings toward you that will help you to make a powerful and impactful first impression? Then take the focus totally off of yourself and place it totally on them.

Yes, invest 99.9 percent of the conversation in asking them questions about themselves and their business, their family, their interests.

When you make them feel good about themselves they are more likely to want to get to know you. They are also much more inclined to like you. And to trust you, as well. Really, when you think of it, there is rarely a more effective way to do this than by being genuinely interested in them.

Consider this: Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who let you do practically all the talking? Did you leave the conversation thinking to yourself, “What a fascinating conversationalist that person is?!” You also probably felt really good about him or her, as well, didn’t you?

You can be that great conversationalist and steer this new interaction toward the beginnings of a powerful and mutually beneficial relationship.

So, what about those questions we mentioned above?

You can ask them about their families. Generally speaking, most people love to talk about their family; their talented spouse, or student-athletic son or daughter. You usually can’t go wrong here. Of course, make sure you don’t try and “one-up” them by bragging about how your child did something even cuter or more outstanding than theirs.

What about their occupations? They will most likely enjoy being asked questions such as “How did you get started?” or “What do you enjoy most about what you do?” I call these type of questions Feel-Good Questions® because they simply cause the person to feel good when they answer them.

Powerful: If they are in some type of sales, ask: “How can I know if someone I’m speaking with is a good prospect for you?” Wow!

Ask them about their recreation. The chances are the reason they ski, travel, read, or whatever else they do is that it brings them great pleasure. And, when you ask them about it, it brings good feelings about you.

Finally, are they involved in something they consider to be life-fulfilling; perhaps a charity or cause to which they are dedicating a lot of their lives? If so, they’ll be more than delighted to discuss that with you.

But, what about you? Shouldn’t you say something about yourself that will cause them to want to know more about you; to get to know you better; to desire to further this new friendship? Isn’t there something you can say that will cause you to immediately have more influence with them?

Yes, there is. And, you just did it. You did it through asking good questions and listening; genuinely and authentically listening.

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  • Mitch Jackson

    Bob- a very valuable suggestion and technique. I do this with my jurors in every single case by asking opened ended questions about them and then listening. Can’t wait to share your post on my communication tips platforms :-)

    It seems to me that more and more young adults (high school to college), for whatever reason, are simply missing the boat on this issue. There are some superstar exceptions but for the most part I really am seeing this lack of interest or interaction more and more. Even with young professionals like lawyers and doctors. I think it might have something to do with texting and digital interactions. Just my circle of (young) friends? Your thoughts?

    • Bob Burg

      Mitch, thank you for your kind feedback as well as your always- thoughtful insights. I agree with you and, yes, it seems as though technology, for all its benefits, has taken a bit away from the art of genuine conversation. I’d also say that even before technology was such a prevalent part of our lives, there was still a big part of it where people simply didn’t know how to have an “other-focused” conversation. Those people who focused on bringing value to others and making others feel genuinely good about themselves were always the ones that just seemed to “have a way” with people. And, while for some people it was natural, for most, it’s a learned skill.

  • Gemma W.

    In every conversation where I’ve been doing all the talking, I’ve felt deeply uncomfortable. Good conversation is a two way street without becoming a competition. Unfortunately I’ve found it’s rare, so far.

    • Bob Burg

      Gemma, thank you for your thoughtful input! And, yes, all too rare indeed!