The Social Network

     Print Edition: Feb 17, 2013

COMMUNICATE WELL
If people frequently tell you "I don't understand" it's time to evaluate your speaking skills. Do you dictate, sound patronising or talk too fast? Remember, it's not just what you say but how you say it that also matters. A patient and intent listener always commands respect. Most people don't focus well on listening; instead they just wait to speak. By displaying good listening skills, you build trust and show interest. Asking relevant questions, using positive gestures (eye contact, nodding, smiling) and picking up the thread of the conversation, makes you come across as actively engaged.

DIALOGUE IS A TWO-WAY STREET
Conversation, like a game of tennis, is a two-way process. Use it to extract others' opinions and not just as a tool for telling them yours. Consider the pauses and short silences at business meetings as a time to think and respond.

INVOLVE EVERYONE
Extroverts have natural flair for conducting conversation but the real skill lies in including the quieter ones, who may be struggling to get their point across but do have valuable views to contribute.

AGREE TO DISAGREE
Respect the fact that people have differing opinions, which makes conversation interesting and lively. Accept gracefully saying, "That's an interesting perspective and you may be right."

A TOUCH OF TACT
Change the subject, which at times maybe needed to retain focus or to deflect to neutral territory. Steer smartly during a break in the conversation but if the break doesn't come, interject saying, "Tell me more about …" or "Getting back to…"

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