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Be Worth Talking To

By steve - Posted on 07 October 2009

I love talking about nothing. It is the only thing I know anything about.
--Oscar Wilde

When you don't know what you're talking about, it's hard to know when you're finished.
--Tommy Smothers

When dealing people, I always try to leave things in such a way that they are glad they talked to me.

Sounds a little egotistical spelled out like that, but I'm serious...

Have you noticed, after interacting with someone else, you'll often think one of these three things:

"Gee, I'm glad I talked to X, today."

"Whoa, I wish I'd avoided X, today."


The last one represents "nothing".

In what order would you prefer these outcomes, when it comes to how people think of you? Of these three outcomes, which ones do you have the most control over?

To answer my own questions, I'd say I'd prefer people be glad they talked to me or at least not care they did (think nothing of it). Also, I probably have the most control over them being glad they talked to me or wishing they'd avoided me.

Here's a few things to keep in mind, if you want people to be glad they talked to you:
* Be yourself, unless you don't like you. If you don't like you, then no one else will either.
* Be a little entertaining. I'm not talking big jokes or anything, but most everyone, at the right time, enjoys stories that are personal and funny. If you aren't funny, at least be current and topical.
* Don't take things too far.
* Try not to say anything stupid.
* Never joke about employment status, money, or fertility.
* Look for opportunities to help and offer to.
* Be polite and take turns speaking. Don't monopolize the conversation--at least for very long.
* Actively listen--don't spend the other person's talking time only thinking about what you're going to say. Listen to them!
* Be empathetic.
* Be encouraging.
* Unless the conversation is dead serious, smile.
* Do what you can to make the other person feel they are "on the team" or "in the group" or just included.
* Enjoy the time you spend listening to them.

Not every situation will allow you to leave another person glad they talked to you, but a lot more situations are improved, if you keep it in mind.

For instance, most people don't like giving other people bad news or correcting/disciplining them. Very few people enjoy getting corrected.

If you are giving the correction:
* Don't let it get personal.
* Stick to the facts.
* Be clear.
* Allow for the person to work through what you've said. You've probably been thinking about it and this is the first they've heard about it.
* If you feel the person has listened or grasped what has been said, thank the person for listening. If not, at least thank them for the time.

If you are getting the correction:
* Don't let it get personal.
* Stick to the facts.
* Be clear.
* Ask for clarification.
* Repeat back your understanding of what the correction is, even if you don't agree with it. "So, you're saying..."
* Without getting defensive, gently provide any rebuttal or clarification you might have.
* Thank the person for taking the time to go over it with you. At least they shared.
* Remember most people are very uncomfortable giving negative feedback--it took something for them to do it, regardless whether they did it well or not.

In either situation, you can leave the person feeling they glad they talked to you.

"I'm glad I talked to Steve about about how he did ______, he seemed interested in improving and took my feedback very well."

"I'm glad I talked to Steve about how I messed up on ______, he gave me clear feedback and I won't let it happen again."

Here's what makes me glad after I've talked to someone:
* I feel loved or appreciated.
* I feel informed or included.
* I was moved or engaged.
* I laughed or cried.
* They did something for me I needed or, even better, they gave me a chance to do something for them.

It really is pretty simple: just do what you can to make people glad they talked to you and you'll do well by it.

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