As adults, we often burden ourselves under the idea that – if we have the proper tools – we should automatically have the skills. For example, if we have reasonable coordination, our eyes work together and we have the strength to swing a racquet, then we should be able to play tennis. We’ve got ten fingers and can read notes on a page, we should be able to play piano. And, if we’ve got two ears, a mouth and vocal cords that work, we should be able to talk to anyone, anytime.
That’s where we get fouled up. We realized that Pete Sampras makes it look easy because he’s been working on his skills for years. Van Cliburn began playing the piano at age three. We think that because we’ve been talking that long, that we should be able to be skillful at networking events, business meetings, presentations, conferences and trade shows. But talking is a lot different than conversing. And conversing, like tennis and playing the piano, requires practice and skill development.
I have personally attended over 2,100 business networking and business social events in the last eight years. I’m comfortable talking with nearly anyone and I can skillfully turn the conversation toward or away from a topic. My business friends marvel at my ability, but they might not realize how much effort has been put into developing that skill. This effort includes not just reading but studying books on just the topic of conversation and communication.
One of the most important books I’ve studied to build my conversational skills is “The Art of Talking to Anyone” by Rosalie Maggio. It is a fantastic resource for anyone in business or even those who are tongue-tied at social occasions.
Starting with the basics, Ms. Maggio covers likeability, keeping a conversation going, asking questions and dealing with unpleasant discussions. The specifics gives detailed how-to’s on business meetings, social events, telephone conversations and even how to talk with someone who is suffering through a difficult time.
The book is extremely user-friendly, with long lists of actual phrases to use in almost any situation. One of the most fantastic segments is the “If They Say, Then You Say…” with lines that you will often hear at many events, along with the best suggestion of what to say back.
The best way to use this book is to read the wonderful information segments and then read out loud the conversational suggestions. Yes. Read it out loud. Practice these phrases. Put them in your own tone of voice with your own words. Imagine yourself using them in the appropriate situations. Imagine the positive responses you will get and the productive and interesting conversations you will have.
Pete Sampras and Van Cliburn practice and rehearse all the time. Why would you do the same for something as vital to your personal and business success as conversational skills? Rosalie Maggio’s “The Art of Talking to Anyone” will provide you with the best training possible from a book.