Connecting with people is a skill that guarantees better relationships with people. When someone is referred to as a people person, it’s more than just talking. In the business world, being able to connect with your clients is crucial.
Interpersonal skills will help you navigate social life with ease. They allow you to better interact with your clients. It does not matter if you are employed, or in business, you must be socially correct. Know what to say, when and how. There are several social skills you need to cultivate that will forever change your business interactions.
1. Learn to Listen
The most important skill you can acquire is the ability to listen. There is a significant difference in hearing and listening. Hearing is being able to hear what is said. Listening, on the other hand, is being able to ask questions that help you better understand the other person.
Listening is not an opportunity to narrate your own experience, it’s a chance to learn how the other person thinks. It will help you acquire the ability to read between the lines. In business, you must know what clients think about your products and services, and talking to the customers will give you insight into what they think.
Make talking to people a habit. It may not be just customers, but suppliers and any other business contacts. Ask questions by probing gently. Most people only need a prod to talk, so make sure you don’t go overboard with the questions. Keep it simple, but let the other person feel whatever they say is important to you. Your aim is to be a good listener, whose intention is to understand deeply. A bad listener skims over information and never really gets the point. Knowing what to say diffuses a lot of potentially bad situations.
2. Find Common ground
There is nothing more annoying than small talk. The essence of becoming a good listener, as mentioned, is to understand deeply. Once you understand, it becomes easy to have meaningful conversations. During your conversation, try to detect common ground or shared interests if you can.
Human beings have 4-8 emotions: anger, joy, surprise, disgust, anticipation, trust, fear and sadness. In every experience, a combination of these emotions gets triggered. Different experiences trigger the same emotions in different people. When you key in on an emotion that you have in common, it is not that hard to find that connection.
For example, if you both dislike something and it makes you feel a certain way - anger, sadness, or disgust, it eliminates the need to have a polite small talk and instantly connects you with this person. Do not just listen to respond. Listen so you understand this person better. Ask questions that deal with emotions:
· How do you feel about that?
· How does that make you feel?
You will be surprised how easy it is to find common ground once you delve deeper.
3. Keep the conversations flowing
How can you keep a conversation from running dry? Some people are what you call zoomed in, while others are zoomed out. Zoomed in people just love details! They want every single detail about a topic. On the other hand, zoomed out people just tend to give little details about any given topic. A zoomed out person just needs to hear the result, not the process!
It all boils down to listening. Once you understand the person you are engaging with, it is much easier for you to keep a conversation flowing. If a person is zoomed in, give and ask them for many details as they require, and vice versa. If you find yourself in a drying up a conversation, see what kind of person you are talking to and treat them accordingly.
Some people have deep-rooted issues, and may not relish the idea of talking to a stranger. Make them feel important, and they may relax a little. It is easier to speak with a friendly stranger!
4. Show Empathy
Empathy is the ability to relate to other people’s feelings in any given situation. Unless you are dealing with a psychopath, every human being can express empathy. Being empathetic is a strong indicator to others that you care about them. It is a great interpersonal skill to have, as you tend to create meaningful relationships.
When people trust you, they tell you important things. They believe you will understand and relate to their situation. The listening factor once again crops up. Without listening, you will not be empathetic, because they go hand in hand. Your business interactions will profit from this skill, as business transactions are delicate, and when an associate knows you are empathetic they are more likely to want to deal with you. Business needs a human factor to succeed.
If all you project is a stern business face, it will not be easy to strike deals. Business deals are often thrown your way by people you are familiar with. If someone is looking for a graphic designer, they are bound to remember you if you were nice to them. Business is all about relationships. You build them by being human.
5. Great persuasion and negotiating skills
In business, having great persuasion and negotiating skills is a definite plus. The essence of business is selling products and services. Having these skills will catapult you to higher levels, because you need to put across an argument as to why your goods and services are the best. Being articulate and eloquent is a key part of these persuasion skills.
From time immemorial, people gravitate towards people with strong oratory skills. You may have to practice in front of a mirror if you are not very good at it, or you could take classes in public speaking to gain confidence. It’ll be worth it, because people tend to part with their money when persuasion skills are employed.
Negotiating skills, on the other hand, are crucial in negotiating better terms. In business, you are bound to get into contracts, and if your negotiating skills are lacking, you’re likely to either get conned or short-changed. Whether you are employed or self-employed, this skill is very important. You may need to negotiate for better terms of employment. You might need to pitch an idea, and persuading management will be a challenge. That challenge gets overcome if your persuasive skills are top-notch.
In business, you may come across customers who demand a hefty discount that is not sustainable. Here you must apply both persuasion and negotiation skills. Convince the customer to take the recommended discount, while keeping it on a balanced level. Your customer must go away feeling valued, rather than demeaned.
Interpersonal skills are vital in any business interaction. In any business setting, you will have to interact with different people with different temperaments. It is therefore crucial that you cultivate people skills. The ability to deal with people is not innate in everyone. For some, it comes naturally, for others it is an acquired skill - but all interpersonal skills stem from the ability to listen, and employ empathy. Once you master those, everything else comes easy. Empathy cannot be faked. You must be genuinely interested in people to pull this off.
People relate more to people who relate well to them. They tend to come back to a place where they feel welcome. They identify with the people who make them feel important.
Do you have a crazy work-related story to tell? Let us know by commenting below!