It’s hard to tell exactly what it is that makes someone a successful business person. Maybe they’re naturally good with numbers or have an acute understanding of marketing and advertising. Or maybe they work as hard as humanly possible. But in the world of business, no matter how good your skills are in math or management, there is one essential skill that is sometimes overlooked: communication.
The ability to effectively speak and converse with peers in the business world is as crucial as being able to analyze the financial data from the second quarter of the past fiscal year. Running a successful business is about connecting with others and networking within your industry. If you happen to be shy or slightly introverted, this is will seriously go against you.
As a business leader, you need to be able to speak not only in business terms but in normal, personal terms and modern-day lingo as well. Being able to talk about the ins and outs of a commercial truck insurance policy is great, but the ability to speak freely about common, everyday things such as your family, hobbies and your background is also necessary.
Here are some tips to improve your oral skills in the business world:
Keep up to date with current events
You should be on top of what it is going on in the news. In this country, people want to know your opinions on things such as current events helps you chime in on conversations happening around the office or at seminars and events you may be attending. Also, knowing a little bit about sports can come in handy as well; people in this country tend to be sports obsessed, so having a little knowledge can never hurt. For current events, www.cnn.com and www.nytimes.com are good for the major headlines.
Engage yourself in peoples’ interests and backgrounds
One thing I have noticed about meeting new people is that if I deflect the dialogue away from myself and toward to the other person, the person is more likely to have an interest in our conversation. For instance, if someone mentions a hobby of theirs, such as fishing, ask them about what kind of fishing they like to do. Do they like freshwater or saltwater? Do they have a boat? What fish do they like to catch? And so on. Additionally, having stored knowledge about different cities and states in the U.S. comes in handy a lot. Knowing about different regions and local customs shows the person you know something about where they are from. Most people are proud of their origins and can be flattered if you show interest, especially about their favorite sports team.
Try to converse with your co-workers as much as possible
What better way to practice than to start at the source? In your office, take the time to go around at points during the day and talk to different people: Ask them how they have been, what they have planned for the weekend, what they have going on for the day. The trick to meeting new people is being able to identify what stimulates them in conversation and what doesn’t. For some, this comes naturally, but it is a skill that can easily be learned if you put in the time. Oral communication skills are crucial to the success and development of your business; especially in an era where it seems so many people are sidetracked with texting and instant multimedia messages. Take the time to follow the advice above, and try to encourage your employees to do the same. A conversation can go a long way, so make sure you don’t miss any opportunity along the road.
About the Author: Gini Watterson is President at Massey Insurance Services, located in Victorville, California.