How To Effectively Talk To Your Boss About Your Career Goals

When I started as a call center coach, I listened to a briefing from a sales team leader. Like a lot of naturally talented salespeople, he could not explain how he is so good.

He told his team to build closeness with their customers. One recent recruiter asked, “How do we build kinship?” He replied, “Be yourself!”

I thought to myself, “What does that mean? There must be a way to practice it.”

I did some research online and found different techniques. These are the first four I included in the first training session of the Joining Agents course.

Key principles

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Use the other person’s name

Dale Carnegie said people do not like more than the sound of their name. Using a person’s name can attract and hold his attention very effectively. Like all games, this game has rules.

Make sure you know how to pronounce it. I work with people from all over the world. I often first see their names in writing. So I’ll ask them, “How do I pronounce your name?” No one wants to hear someone pronounce their name incorrectly, and they will appreciate that you bothered to say it correctly.

Do not use it too much. The classic stereotype of a “skinny sales guy” uses a customer’s name at the end of each sentence. Use the person’s name at the beginning of the conversation, and then the points where you want her to pay special attention. It should not be more than once or twice.

Names can be a sensitive topic. In the English-speaking world, using first names with complete strangers is considered normal. In the Czech Republic, it is still customary to use “Mr.” / “Mrs.” And last name. Be careful to fit in with what is normal for their culture, otherwise you may seem disrespectful.

2. Question, Answer, Comment (QAC)

When two people talk for the first time, they often ask each other questions.

At the conference, you may ask, “What do you think of the event?”

When your spouse answers, respond with a comment before asking the next question. Here is an example:

“What do you think of the event?”

“It’s not what I expected. I was hoping for more presentations.”

“Really? What aspect of XYZ are you interested in?”

The comment, “Really?” Shows that you are interested in her answer.

Two points for your attention: Your comment should match the answer, and do not use the same comment for each answer, otherwise, you will sound like bored telemarketing.

3. Something in common

Finding something in common with the other person is a good technique for building closeness. If you are talking to someone, you are in the same physical or virtual environment.

You can ask a question or comment on the event you are both attending.

You can comment on the signal quality of the conference call in the video you are in.

If you meet face to face, you can do the classic British thing and talk about the weather!

You can also volunteer some personal information, such as mentioning your children or pets. People like to respond with a similar comment of their own. Suddenly you find out you both have teenage boys or Jack Russell Terrier. You have something in common to talk about!

4. Humor

This is the most effective, but most dangerous way to build intimacy. Humor is usually culturally specific. What’s funny one person can leave another person cold, or even make you punch in the face.

I’m waiting for the second person to make the first joke, to gauge what works for her.

If you intend to make a joke, do not make a joke at the expense of who you are talking to.

I know someone who spoke to the CEO of another company. He made a humorous remark about sales people. The CEO spent the first 20 years of his career in sales.

You may think self-deprecating humor is a safe option, but in some cultures, jokes about yourself are seen as a sign of insecurity and weakness.

How can I improve my game?

Two professionals shake hands and smile at each other

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Start by watching other people and how they build intimacy.

See what other people are doing in meetings or conversations. Watch TV or movies where people are having conversations. Police dramas are great because cops usually try to contact witnesses and suspects they are interviewing.

Start practicing actively by trying one technique at a time in conversations. Watch how your conversation partners react, and take that as feedback.

I used a practice activity where each new trainee had to ask the other trainees five questions to get to know each other. They had to use techniques to build closeness. A quarter of an hour after the start of the exercise, the class sounded like a party!

If you are going to a networking event, prepare four or five simple questions and walk around the room and try to talk to everyone, using closeness building techniques. Look at how they react.

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