Thursday, June 25, 2009

It's not about you

It took me awhile to learn this. I try and be less me focused now. From Jeff Garrison:

Listening: Don't Hijack the Conversation

Posted: 19 Jun 2009 09:13 AM PDT

Hijacking the conversation is such an easy thing to do in sales when you have just met a prospect with whom you are thinking about establishing rapport and being memorable. In fact, hijacking the conversation is a little bit like stealing the air people breathe. They may not know why they are having trouble breathing, but until they get some air, they are not really focused on anything else.

2843144877_f98211df97 Here is an example. John was referred to Jane. He is a good prospect and they have just met at his office for the first time.

Jane: "I see from the picture on your desk that you have a son who plays football."

John: "I have two kids in high school sports."

Jane: "Really, I have three kids. One plays baseball and the other two are into soccer. A funny thing happened at my sons baseball game yesterday. . ."

Jane is thinking that rapport is being established because they are talking about something they have in common when in fact she has just hijacked the conversation. It would have been better to ask John about his kids. That's what he wanted to talk about. For example:

  • What grade is your son in?
  • What position does he play?
  • Did you play football as well?
  • Is your other child a son or daughter?

There are a dozen questions Jane could have asked. After a few questions, John would have asked Jane if she had kids or if she was a sports fan or something.

This is not some sales guru, rapport establishing, manipulation technique. It is just allowing another human being to be the center of attention for a moment.

Jane could have asked something about John's company such as how long has he owned the company or how did he get started in the business.

Regardless of how the conversation gets started, Jane should not be anxious to connect her background with John's. Be paitent. The opportunity will present itself naturally.

Here is a practice tip. If you think you do this (even sometimes), share this idea with someone you interact with regularly. Ask them to help you break the habit by pointing it out when you do.

Do you have other thoughts about hijacking conversation? Does gender impact how and when this happens or with whom? Please comment.

Photo on flickr by dotbenjamin

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