Considering the Art of Conversational Etiquette
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Considering the Art of Conversational Etiquette
Developing conversational credibility is important in any business or life endeavor. Approaching people in a professional setting calls for tact and diplomacy, coupled with honest straightforward talk about issues at hand. The business world is rife with complexity, dishonesty and exaggeration in communication. This leads to distrust among coworkers ultimately hurting business relationships as well as business dealings. This paper will explore some of the recommended ways of conversing within the professional world. Conversational etiquette is as important as any issue or topic being dealt with in the office.

The language we use when communicating with others is of great importance. The words chosen for a conversation helps others determine whether we speak with integrity and honesty or not. Our reputation in this area may be key to how we relate to people in business situations. Pat McMillon, “a management consultant to top executives in a number of Fortune 500 companies advocates straight forward communication that is open, honest, timely and accurate” (Langford, 2005, p. 18).

Try not to develop a reputation for exaggeration. People tend to think twice about what you have to say and do, often putting little faith in your words. Jargon can become confusing and meaningless in the work world. For example; “companies dont fire people, but go through “workforce adjustments” and “headcount reductions”” (Langford, 2005, pp. 18-19). Try not to hide behind fancy phrases. If others throw these types of phrases at you, asking for clarification is the best answer for simple, straightforward communication.

It is far worse to be someone whose word cant be relied on then to be respected for saying no. Only make commitments you can keep otherwise your relationships will be damaged. Admitting your mistakes is a valuable asset that builds credibility. No one is never wrong. You can be more sincere as well as easier to approach if you are willing to admit a mistake now and then. Building a reputation for honesty and reliability requires effort; however, there are many rewards for this kind of endeavor (Langford, 2005, pp. 19-20).

Develop an “attitude of gratitude” in your business and personal dealings. Saying thank you is very important. You can do this with a note or phone call at times, but a personal face-to-face thank you, where the recipient can see your body language and hear the sincerity in your voice is very effective (Langford, 2005, p. 21). Today, sending an email is also considered appropriate though you need to remember these messages are never private so keep the communication professional (Langford, 2005, p. 22). Much office conversation or communication today is done via email. This has led to some problems in the work area. You need to be sure your emails are carefully worded and styled. In the case of the proper or improper use of email in business communication, it is important to note that some employees have been fired due to what others saw as improper emailing. The only protection available to employers according to Elin Pinnell is: “In the case of a dispute sparked by inappropriate email usage, employers are only completely protected if they have a clear and transparent policy in place that spells out the ground rules” (2009, p. 1). Poorly worded emails can lead to misunderstandings and loss of revenue in businesses; however, a well constructed, effective on-line communication can be an asset to a company. (2009, p. 1) It is good to respond to a kindness or gift as soon as possible and with enthusiasm. People need to know you appreciate their efforts. An oral thank you over the phone, followed up by a hand written note, gives extra punch to the response (Langford, 2005, p. 23).

We must also consider the effect of nonverbal communication. “The sobering reality is that what we say is almost always overridden by what we do. Indeed, regardless of what words convey, our bodies tell others how we feel about what we say.” (Langford, 2005, p. 26) Some body language may include eye contact, stances, motion, gestures and personal space. Other things included in nonverbal communication are jewelry, makeup, clothing and personal possessions. The signals we send come across clearly either for good or bad, through what we do. Sometimes actions speak louder than words. (Langford, 2005, p. 26)

In presenting a talk, the pitch or tone of voice will give an impression of both enthusiasm and sincerity or a monotone can indicate disinterest. Showing confidence in yourself and your topic is shown by eliminating such “fillers” as “uh”, “ok”, and “you know”. Avoid using phrases such as “I think”, “I feel”, and “sort of”. (Langford, 2005, p. 26)

The ability to converse with others is one of the bonding factors leading to success in the work environment. Embracing small talk, developing commonalities that lead to what is termed big talk requires time and sincere interest. Being able to talk face-to-face with associates, managers, bosses, colleagues or investors produces great success. Having a confident presence and the ability to speak before audiences in any setting reflects well on your capability. “The unequivocal equation is verbal fluency = success and affluency.” (RoAne, 2008, pp. 1-2) Conversational skills which develop in related groups of loyal purchasers, as well as professional relationships, become of great import. Establishing bonds by using small talk is essential in business and personal encounters. This is a way to put others at ease, establishing an in-road. (RoAne, 2008, p. 3)

Moving from small talk to medium talk means including more business details, giving more information. Trusting the other person to contribute to the conversation is important as well. Do not be overbearing, but be willing to participate fully. Once a rapport has been developed, you may move on to bigger issues. “Conversation is how we strengthen the safety net of people who make up our personal and professional networksand resources” (RoAne, 2008, pp. 4-5). Keeping up with current issues is a good idea to keep your knowledge bank built up in order to carry on interesting conversations with business contacts. “A good conversationalist is well read, well versed and well rounded” (RoAne, 2008, p. 5).

Asking intelligent questions offers the listener the opportunity to express his or her ideas and expertise. We all learn from each other in this process. Let the other person know you genuinely are considering his or her view of a situation. Keeping a sense of humor may ease a tense moment or bring about a segue into a new topic. However, it is essential not to put

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