Posts Tagged personal development

Tips and Topics on Starting a Conversation And Establish Report With Any New Contact or Prospect

Don't know what to say?

Charlie Cook said it right: whether you are in the elevator or on the phone, the way you start the conversation will determine whether or not it will continue. So many times we face the uncomfortable situation of meeting with a recently established contact and we just don’t know what to say. In fact, opening a conversation requires a set of skills if you want to leave an everlasting impression that will make the other one eager to come to you every time he/she  will meet you.

Tips to excel in starting a conversation and in establishing report with any  newly established contact or prospect:
  • Start with a joke/humor – By making humors, you show that you are open-minded, you have a positive attitude, that you do not feel depressed, and very important, you send the message that the person will feel great around you and will have fun. Yet, of course, because of the cultural differences, you might want to choose carefully what jokes to give. For having traveled and lived around lot of different cultures, I found out that what is funny for Africans might not be that funny for Europeans; and what is funny for Europeans might not be funny for Americans. Also, avoid any racial or other social jokes.  Do not make fun of your new contact unless you feel like he won’t take it against you. Good jokes to get started are when you make fun of you.
  • Give a sincere praise – People love to be flattered. People love it when you show respect to their self-esteem. People love it when you show that you care.
    About two weeks ago, I was having diner with two friends of mine over in Baltimore, MD at a Greek restaurant.  As we were waiting to be seated, I noticed the very expensive watch the restaurant owner was wearing and as soon as I got the opportunity, I told him how much I love the design and style of his watch and asked him where he got it from. He loved that attention and praise and during the whole 1 hour diner time we had with my friends, we had the best service and the best attention in return from the restaurant. As we were leaving, the restaurant owner came for special thanks and asked for what we do for leaving. There was a new connection starting.
  • Make a considerable remark/meaningful greetings – So many times we come to greet people by just pressing on the play button of our recorded mindset that do not reflect how we actually are or feel at the moment. People will ask you: “HOW ARE YOU?” and you’ll go: “FINE THANKS! ” even if you feel horrible. Making a considerable remark means observing the person and giving the person a feedback of how he reflects to feel like: “you look like you are going to a company meeting”, “You look like you just got a job promotion”. That kind of greeting will definitely invite or push the person to tell what is really going on at the moment: “Oh yeah! I have so much going on right now!”, “Oh it’s not work related, it’s my wife who made a wonderful surprise.”
  • Do the happy face – Don’t walk with a pity face on you and expect to have people willing to talk with you, be smiling. Smile and enthusiasm opens doors and are contagious. People love that and love to be surrounded of that kind of people.
  • Have a respectable body language and position – Whether you are making a joke, giving a meaningful greeting or a praise, the way you position yourself, wherever you are, and your body language, tell a lot about how educated you are and therefore can help the person to engaged in a conversation with you.

Now let’s talk a bout the topics to talk about with anyone. When your relationship to someone is not yet secured and you can’t afford just talking about everything by fear of hurting the person or by fear of saying something that will be taken against you, you have to watch out about what topics to pick up when starting a conversation and breaking the ice. This selection of topics I am getting ready to give you are petty helpful for situations where you are invited to a dinner or any other social event and you know no one or barely know them. Also, when you invite someone at your place or at a diner but you have no strong relationship with the person.

WARNING!!!! This is  not supposed to be an interview. So as you surf and pick up the topics, make sure it looks more like a conversation that all the parties enjoy having and that give the opportunity to everyone to share his own story.

Topics on starting a conversation and establish report with any newly established contact:

  • Are you from here originally? / How long have you been working for that company? –  As you are establishing report with someone, you want to make sure you first show genuine interest to the person by getting to know where the person comes from. In general, people would start telling you everything about the places the lived in before moving where they live now.
  • What social activity interest you the most? – The point behind this question is to see what you have in common with the person. The more you have in common, the stronger will be your relationships to the person, and the more the two of you will be willing to do things together.
  • Do you play any sport? / Do you you follow up with sport? Which team you go for? – Men are usually the best gender to ask that kind of question to.
  • Where is the best place to go and eat here? / What are the different types of foods you ever tried?
  • Did you watch that movie???
  • Where is the best place you ever had to visit?
  • If you feel like the connection on the right track you can go the extra-mile and start topics such as who is the person who influenced you the most, or what is that you like about your job, or what would be your dream job.

Again, just like Charlie Cook said: whether you are in the elevator or on the phone, at the office or at a party, the way you start the conversation will determine whether or not it will continue. A well started conversation can open doors to a lifelong relationship.

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What Makes a Great Phone Conversation?

Happy Phone Call

In the 1870s, two inventors Elisha Gray and Alexander Graham Bell both independently designed devices that could transmit speech electrically (the telephone). Today, thanks to the technology, the phone companies, and people purchasing power, the acquisition and use of phones keep on growing. From the little feet to the 90+ years of age, everyone has and uses phones nowadays to communicate. Since communication is the reason why people do use phones, how important it is to be skilled at handling phone conversations and to leave a remarkable lasting impression of you to the person on the other line?

We’ve probably all already experienced the situation of making or receivin a phone call that lasted about 2 minutes not becuase there was absolutely nothing to share with the person but mostly becuase we didn’t know what to share, how to share it, or even because we didn’t “connect” with the person. I am talking especially here of people we know, people we have fun meeting with outside, but somehow when we have then on phone, it feels like talking to a complete stranger. Well, the techniques I am about to share here will be helpful to any kind of situation you might face in a phone conversation to make the person go WOW and thank you for such a wonderful phone conversation.  Just to be clear, here are the situations the techniques I am about to share can be apply to:

  • You call or receive a phone call from a friend you haven’t talked with for a very long time
  • You call or receive a phone call from a newly established relationship
  • You call or receive a phone call for service purposes
  • You call or receive a phone call from a friend’s friend
  • You call or receive a phone call from a colleague or previous colleague
  • You call or receive a phone call from your boss

Now, before I get started, understand that they following techniques on this post are applicable on each and all of the above cited situations. On later posts I will dig more on the subject and will share techniques for each specific situation. As for now, here are the techniques you can master today to make a great phone conversation no matter what situation you are in.

  1. Never rush to answer a phone call – Again, like I love to say in my other blog at, preparation in anything is one key of success. When you have your phone ringing you want to make sure you first see who is calling, make the pre-thinking of why the person might be calling, what is the last news you got about the person, and what you have in common with the person. The reason behind it is that, the first seconds after you answer the phone is definitely ging to set the tone of the phone conversations. If you’re not in good shape to talk to the person, or you are too busy at the moment, or for whatever reason you are not sure you do want to speak to the person at this time, then it’s better not to answer the call and to send a text to the person to apologyze for not picking up the phone and tell him that you will call back later. In your text, don’t forget to ask him if the reason behind the call is important and urgent. So when you call back you are already prepared to engage in an important phone call.
  2. Give your best smile – So many people still believe that because it’s a phone conversation, it’s hard to know if you smile or not. Well, when you are on phone, the person on the other line might not see you but he/she can well feel your emotions and state of mind. So be enthusiast and smiling when you pick up the phone. Don’t make a phone call if you are not at the best of your state because you might just end up messing up the other person day.
  3. Give a warm greeting – Thanks to the technology and the smart phones, you can now have a call ID to identify who is calling you. So STOP picking your phone and say: “Hallo!” In the past saying the “Hallo” was the polite way to answering the phone because you couldn’t know who was calling. Today it’s not true. So as you answering your phone call, give the same warm greeting you would have given if the person was in front of you:Hey Dustin! What’s up my man?!” with the big smile on your face. Say the person’s name as you greet him/her so that he/she can be flattered that you have his/her saved on your cell phone (which demonstrates a mark of respect and attention). Especially in that case, if it’s your boss, please do not say “man”. Be professional and say: “Hey Dustin! or Hey Mr. Jones” depending on how you are used to call him, but always with the big smile and enthusiast voice.
  4. Be a leader, break the ice – Once the warm greetings have been made, whether you made the call or not you can take the leadership in making clear what the purpose of the call really is. This is like the Ice breaker. If you made the call, then you can just go like: “Hey Dustin, I’am glad I got you on phone, I hope I am not interrupting anything important. I am calling because…” Whoever you are calling this sentence will be appropriate, it will break the ice, and lead the other one as of where the phone conversation will be going. If you are receiving the call, then you can simply ask with an enthusiastic voice: “what’s going on Dustin? What you’ve been up to since we last met?” That kind of open question give the opportunity to break the ice, and invite the two of you to give some news updates, to value the importance of the phone call, and see how much time can be allocated for that phone call.
  5. Watch out for the time – Time matters, you already know that. So when you call someone and based on the type, quality, and strength of the relationship that you have, you might want to pay particular attention to the amount of time you spent on the phone with him/her. The situation you want to avoid is to speak so much that the two of you run out of topics. If you do so, then you will have the feeling that you do not to speak with them again next time. What I recommend is to speak with people a maximum of about 15 to 20 minutes. If at the end of the 20 minutes you feel like the two of you still have a lot to share, then apologyze yourself and ask for what will be the nest time to call back for next time. I guarantee you, next time you will come, the person will pick up the phone at the very first ring tone.
  6. Value the phone call – Whether you are the one calling or the one receiving the phone call, for the person on the other line to be interested in being on phone with you, you have to value that phone call. Here are some ways to value the phone call:
    – Pay attention when the person talk: again, if it’s true that we might not be able to see you when you are on phone, we can still feel whether or not you are present on the phone talk. So cut off the TV or other noise around you to be able to well listen to the person and for the person to be able to know that he/she is well listened.
    Make follow up feedbacks when you are discussing: follow up feedbacks are any types of feedbacks you may give to show the person that you are listening. It might a “Huh hum!” or a “I agree with you on that”, or a laugh, a question, an invitation to repeat what has just been said.
  7. Thanks for the call – Understand that for someone to call you or to answer to your call, the person shows you consideration. When someone is giving a call or your are the one making the phone call, even if it’s your best friend or relative, always make sure to say Thanks Dustin for checking on me. It was nice having you on phone.”

Today, because of the distance, the work, and other occupations, it’s becoming very hard to meet people in person whether for business or personal matters. That is why mastering phone calls are in today’s world very important. With that said, it doesn’t matter who you are calling or who is calling you, make sure you create in that person a great desire to have you again on phone or even better you create in him/her such a lasting good impression running a great phone conversation that the person want to meet you in person to have a drink with you and continue the conversation.

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