90 percent of your success depend on one thing – it has nothing to do with performance. Only 10 percent of our professional success comes from our achievements. The remaining 90 percent is primarily one thing: reputation.
How could you improve your reputation? First, let us start with a simple representation of how your reputation could be measured:
Your actions + what others say about you = your reputation
This simple formula is the most powerful leverage you have in the business world.
Being a professional in your job and facing your tasks with confidence covers the first part of the formula. (You can find a list of 10 simple ways to improve your reputation here)
What others say about you is most of the times firmed also by the fact how approachable you are and how easy it is for someone to talk to you.
A perfect opportunity to put yourself successfully in a positive light is the personal conversation. There are so many conversational situations in which you can do a lot more for your own reputation. As an example, it might be on official occasions, at the office, in the elevator or while walking on the streets. To make a good impression on the other person in these moments it is ideal to master the technique of small talk.
With the help of the following tips you could start feeling more confident and become more successful as a result.
“Thank you, and you?” is the British-American response. You take the energy of the question and give it back. An honest answer is never expected and instead it is assumed that you are always fine. With detailed answer about diseases and problems you damage your reputation. The best way to start a small talk is with a compliment followed by a question. This is how you avoid unpleasant silence after your compliment.
If you don’t want to talk about the weather anymore you can shift the conversation and share a nice little story. This will deepen the contact so choose the story to match the history you have with the other person. Be conscious however and avoid going into unpleasant details with strangers.
You always greet before stepping into a conversation. It can be a nod, a smile, eye contact or a verbal greeting. The other person decides whether to respond. In an informal setting such as that of a small talk in a lift, for example, it is perfectly fine to say : “I know you are the CEO of Company Y. May I ask you a question about this?”
A good opener at events is the question of how the person is known to the host or connected to the occasion. Another option would be to consider the purpose of the event and start the conversation with it.
In a business context you have to differentiate between formal and informal situations. The informal ones allow safe field topics like the weather, sports and culture. According to popular opinion it becomes more complex with controversial topics such as religion or politics. Of course, internal company matters are absolute taboo. You should never forget that in a business context you represent not only yourself, but also your company and brand.
Silent listening is a safe option for dealing with this situation. Unfortunately, you do not make a particularly good impression with it. If several people are discussing an unknown subject you can of course always change tables and join a group where you have a say. Another alternative is to quickly change the subject. If you use thematic bridges and questions skillfully you can steer the conversation very well. But don’t forget that people love to talk about their favorite subject. So it can be that you will be better received if you just admit that you don’t know your way around and ask for a little introduction. The motto is: “knowing nothing does not matter. Not knowing, but pretending is fatal”. With that you can quite easily harm your reputation.
Approx. 20 percent of the population are socially shy. Although these people constantly have an inner monologue, they feel they are in a kind of test situation when others approach them. These rather introverted people are sometimes overwhelmed with a relaxed conversation and avoid contact with their body language. You can leave them alone and give them the opportunity to sort themselves. You can also offer to bring them a drink, for example. After two or three such nudges, however, you should accept that the person has chosen to be left alone.
When the person you’re talking to has found “his/her topic”, you can make the transition from small talk to big talk and maybe even business talk. That is a very positive outcome of the small talk.
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