FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH
|“Enough About Me; Let’s Talk About Me”||
|By: Ron Brounes||
I used to work with a guy whose favorite topic of conversation was himself. I’m sure we’ve all known people like that. Some of us probably ARE people like that. (Please let me know if I am one.) Anyway, whatever direction the conversation was taking, you could always be certain, he would share an applicable story (or 10) about himself. Furthermore, his stories were always so grand in magnitude, so remarkable, that any others failed in comparison. If you just had a good day at work, he just had the best day ever at work. If your kid received special recognition on a school project, his kid’s drew national acclaim. If you strained a muscle playing basketball, he tore two knee ligaments and a rotator cuff AND still managed to hit the game winning shot at the buzzer. After years of listening to these self promotions, we began to have a little “joke” saying around the office that described him to a tee: “Enough about me; let’s talk about you. What do you think about me?”
In actuality, all of us are a little guilty of “ego-mania” from time to time. It’s simply human nature. We tend to talk about those things we know most about, and certainly, we know more about ourselves and our accomplishments/failures than anything else. Understanding this element of human nature can be instrumental in devising effective business communications and marketing strategies. By appealing to our target’s emotions, that ever-present ego, we may be able to ultimately earn a few brownie points, and make that evasive sale, sign that big deal, or accomplish that tough task at hand.
One relatively easy way to immediately catch our target’s ear is something so simple, so basic, yet something most of us fail to do. In any setting, even the most blasé of conversations, refer to them by their first name. Nothing peaks our attention faster than hearing our names called out. How many times are you in a restaurant or a sporting event or a department store and you think you hear someone calling you? Instantly you stop whatever you are doing to look around for that voice in the distance. You even ask, “Did someone just call me? Did you just hear MY NAME?” Our brains are trained to recognize familiar sounds, familiar words. (I took one psych. class in college.) Interest is generated immediately once we hear them uttered. On that note, we tend to pay closer attention during the course of normal conversations every time we hear our names mentioned, our real names that is. Introductory expressions like, “What’s up, dude?” should become “What’s up, Harry?” “How are you today, Sweety?” translates into “How are you today, Eunice?” (On a side note, if I married someone named Eunice, what would her full name become?)
Taking this process one step further, take advantage of this brief undivided attention, by bringing up topics most important and interesting to them. Talk about their families, their businesses, their favorite sports team. Your “business target” will always be impressed by your remembering their spouse and children’s names and mentioning any recent accomplishments. Furthermore, a well-placed, timely compliment can work wonders. Bring up some current event that you know they have been following. A CPA loves to talk about tax reform. Stock brokers ramble for hours about the market. Insurance agents, well they just ramble. As discussed in an earlier issue, an understanding of the events shaping the world can help provide us with useful topics for discussion.
Once you’ve gotten their attention and they begin talking, the best business communications strategy is to “shut up” and listen. The old cliché, “listen and learn” is not only extremely applicable, but also correct. After all, we each have two ears, but only one mouth. (Feel free to use that one in the future. I stole it from some seminar.) During the course of these dialogues, our “target” may mention certain viewpoints and philosophies. Make a mental note of interesting comments; some may hold the key to future business down the road. Unfortunately, listening is a skill that many of us do not possess. Most salespeople are so concerned with racing through their prepared scripts that they fail to even hear relevant buying signals. Don’t ever get so enamored by the sound of your own voice that you fail to listen to others. The most effective communicators are also the best listeners.
The primary motivation behind these little exercises is to put the other person at ease, especially in a business setting. Once they are talking about subjects of interest, they should become more comfortable in general. Once they are more comfortable, you should get a more favorable response to your intended purpose. Generate interest by appealing to their ego, lull them into a comfortable sense of security, listen closely to their key comments, and then proceed with your intended business at hand. The “Eddie Haskel” mentality can prove quite effective in generating future business dealings. On the other hand, don’t immediately become skeptical when someone asks you about your family. A few of us are actually sincere.
FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH is a self promotional publication of that fine upstart company, Brounes & Associates, focusing on tremendously helpful advice related to business marketing and general communications strategies. Please call that highly effective communicator, Ron Brounes, at 713-432-1910 for additional useful information. Thanks, man. By the way, anyone know any single women named Eunice?