The art of business conversation: Business Conversation Etiquettes You Should Follow
THE way we communicate in a business setting have dramatically changed over the years. In today’s modern world, communication techniques and channels are constantly evolving. Not everyone is a natural born talker. Starting conversations with new clients can be daunting as well as stressful. Consider this – When you surround yourself with people you like to do business with, then you can easily secure deals. But, what if you need to pitch with an unknown person? Chances are that, you might not able to make a successful deal. This is where the need for a proper business conversation kicks in.
So why is this important? Communicating well with clarity, confidence and precision in a business setting not only makes positive impressions but also secures deals. Your success in career will be influenced by the relationships you develop and maintain with your peers, managers and clients. On the other hand, lack of proper business communications etiquette can be severely damaging to your business, career and reputation.
If you want to be a successful conversationalist, then here are some quick tips to help you. Remember to practice it well because mastering the art of business conversation is not easy.
Businesses grow faster when you listen properly because the art of conversation lies in the thoughtful interpretation of the information shooting through your ears. You should seem genuinely interested because as long as you can listen to them, they’ll find the conversation fascinating. Active listening is very difficult but it provides the fuel. Use your senses to analyze the real meaning behind the person’s word, body language, tone and add “hmmm’s”, “ok’s” and “uh-huh’s” at the appropriate moments.
A conversation is a two-way process, so you should impress the other person by communicating respect. Remember the Golden Rule or ethic of reciprocity, “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” Don’t be an egomaniac. You should treat the other person with respect even if he/she is just a newly-appointed employee because if you become modest and respectful of others, then they will like you and drive your efforts and interactions. Stand when meeting someone or shaking hands because it shows respect.
Focus on them, not yourself. A conversation should be kept well-fashioned. The behavior of looking around the room for paintings, ceilings, cell phones, lamps etc. should be avoided at any cost. You don’t want to be another tom, dick and harry by looking inattentive in the middle of an important conversation. Don’t expect a deal when your imagination is out of focus. Concentrate all your thoughts on the conversation because if you become interested, then they will ‘open-up’ to you.
Don’t give your pitch as if you are doing a favor to them; instead take your time to ask questions. Remember, there is a reason that you want to talk to them. You will look desperate if you don’t ask any questions. Try to move beyond the plain “yes” and “no”. Ask open-minded questions as these questions will elicit responses. However, asking them too many questions will make them feel interrogated and eventually close them off. Don’t be a fool by brain-picking them.
This is one of the most important points to remember during a business conversation. Be sure that you never speak ill of your competitors because there is a good chance that the other person you end up speaking may know one of your competitors personally.
Avoid sensitive subjects during a conversation. Sexual and sarcastic remarks, office gossips and topics such as religion, politics, and money should be avoided at any cost. Similarly, you should also refrain from asking personal and too casual questions. Avoid interrupting your client during the middle of the conversation. It’s a big no-no and one of the worst things to do.
Know your client. You should research properly before going to a business meeting or a function to uncover some interesting topics. Look for buzz words that start the conversation. Don’t under-estimate the power of the internet because you can always find something about the business, market and the client. Business-specific conversations will help you get more networking opportunity.
Think before you speak because most embarrassing moments occur due to the failure of thinking before speaking. You should learn to express yourself in a positive and non-threatening manner. During the conversation, if someone misinterprets you, then clarify immediately what you’ve said.
Don’t turn your back after a pushy sales pitch. You should follow up appropriately. If you promise info, deliver it; if you are asked for further information, provide it; if you are given a deadline, meet it. Don’t expect your client to remember you after a single meeting. You should periodically remind and call them. Even if the pitch didn’t go well, it’s still a good idea to follow up because following up after the meeting will help to continue the relationship & discuss possible solution.
Etiquette is about rules and business-etiquettes are no different. In today’s information age, emails, text messages and phone calls at inappropriate times will disrupt the conversations. Remember to turn off your cell phone and notifications during a formal conversation because cell phones distract you and sends a negative message. Similarly, you should also learn table manners because sometimes the conversation takes place at restaurant settings. Remember good etiquettes spell good business.
A good conversation will help build a good relationship. Ask for business card, e-mail or offer your business card and invite the person for lunch or an event.
As you start a conversation, make the initial greeting brief and friendly with a smile because smiling makes you looks confident and approachable. Similarly, your body language should be positive; remember to unclench your fists and keep your arms unfolded. Your gesture shows how approachable and open you are. Be simple and courteous. Likewise, while exiting a conversation, start with “Thank you,” and extend your hand to offer a “goodbye” handshake followed by a polite excuse.