I thought the above title would grab your attention. It could be interesting, entertaining, and maybe (if you know my background) even humorous. You won’t know for sure unless you continue reading.
So… what is the secret to great customer service, productive teamwork and successful networking?
A study released in the journal Psychological Science found meaningful conversations (actual talking between people) increased productivity and the happiness factor – which is a guaranteed way (the secret!) to improve customer service, teamwork and networking.
Psychologists at the University of Arizona in Tucson and Washington University in St. Louis have finally discovered what some of us have known for years:
Small talk doesn’t cut it.
Here’s what researchers did to learn about the importance of strong conversational skills. They had volunteers complete personality and well-being assessments. Then over the next four days the volunteers wore recording devices that recorded 30 seconds of sound every 12 minutes. After sifting through 20,000 recordings, the researchers put the conversations into two groups: trivial or substantial.
They concluded that the most productive and satisfied (there’s the happiness factor again) participants spent 25% less time alone and dealing with trivial conversations – and 70% more time having substantive conversations. Researchers suggest meaningful conversations breed stronger interactions.
So let me ask you a few questions:
- Do you want to improve customer service?
- Do you want to increase productivity through team-building?
- Do you want to build your client base by networking?
- Do you want to increase sales?
This is only a guess, but I would say you answered “YES” to all of the above questions. And the answer (again, the secret) is to have more conversations your listeners will relate to and therefore, listen to and remember.
In a nutshell, here’s a winning technique:
- Keep them interested
- Entertain them
- Humor them
The idea is to involve your listener by building an immediate relationship through common interests or experiences. The result should help you stand out from someone who doesn’t.
In other words – they’ll remember you.
As an example, in my keynotes and training seminars, I rely a lot on audience participation. Not that I don’t have a lot to say (I do!) but it’s good to build interaction and keep everyone involved. I mean seriously, who really wants to just sit there and listen to someone lecture for an hour or more? I’ll admit there are speakers who can hold our attention for a good length of time and get paid TONS of money to do it. But I’m sure we all have memories of long-winded instructors at school or group leaders at work that… well, I’m getting bored just writing about them.
If a topic isn’t presented in a way that will hold your interest, chances are it will be an hour of your life that is hard to describe to someone else:
Bored You: “Yes, we had a speaker. He talked about… something… (Insert sounds of yawning or snoring).
Interested You: “Yes, we had a speaker. He was very entertaining. Here’s what he talked about… (Insert sounds of fireworks and cheering crowds).
As any good speaker or trainer will tell you, keeping an audience’s attention is not much different than doing the same during a one-on-one conversation. The goal is to keep the listener interested in what you are saying. And a good way to do that in today’s high-speed techno society is to include an enhancing dose of personal creativity to make your informative or ice-breaking conversations entertaining and when appropriate (and always politically correct) humorous.
Informative and entertaining conversations are always memorable. It’s a winning technique in customer service, team-building and networking.
My goal as a communications trainer is NOT to change your message, but to enhance the way it is delivered. Even the psychologists agree:
Small talk doesn’t cut it.
Employ these enhancements and your conversations will not only be heard – but also listened to and remembered.
Comment? Please use the form below. In the meantime, thanks for reading and as always – keep laughing!
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Dave Schwensen is a nationally recognized comedy coach and author of six books including How To Be A Working Comic. He has designed and instructs university courses in communications and presentation skills. Dave is a keynote speaker and training seminar leader (for your next event!) and CILC Pinnacle Award Winner for video conferences on communication skills, comedy and pop culture.
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