Instant Business Connection - THE SECRET TO ENSURING A GREAT CONVERSATION
Not too long ago I was walking out of GNC and passed a cell phone kiosk in the middle of the mall. One of their salesmen whose name was Eric approached me, and asked about the products in my bag from GNC. As we started talking, I was waiting for him to try and sell me on one of his products, but he just focused on GNC products and working out which kept me engaged. After 10 minutes into the conversation, I asked him “are you trying to sell me on something”, he replied with “no”. He explained his backstory, and I realized we had a similar past. We exchange contact info but he never tried to sell me on anything. As I walked away, I realized I was actually in a rush when I initially passed that kiosk, and thought to myself how in the world did that guy stop me and engage me for 20 minutes, when usually I wouldn’t have given him 20 seconds. When I got into my car, it occurred to me he used one of the techniques in my book.
In chapter 5 (Unlocking the Door to Good Communication) of my book First Impressions for the Business Professional – Why Some of Us Excel and Most of Us Fail, you’ll discover a number of tools and techniques to ensure you can always keep a conversation flowing with ease.
Have you ever approached a stranger and found yourself out of questions after 30 seconds? If this has ever happened to you, it’s important to understand that there is a right way and a wrong way to ask a question.
As you try to engage someone, the trick is understanding how they will reply to your question. What do I mean?
There are two types of questions.
1. Close-ended—These are the types of questions that can be answered with a simple yes, no, or short answer.
2. Open-ended—These are the types of questions that require an explanation.
If you ever find yourself in another dead end conversation going no where, you’re probably asking close-ended questions that the other person can answer with a quick one or two word answer. If you identify this is happening, you should realize your asking the wrong type of questions and immediately start asking open-ended questions.
Why open-ended questions? Because open-ended questions essentially force the person to think about the question as they have to provide an explanation of some kind. This ensures you keep them engaged with their own reply, and allows you to further build on the conversation with ease.
Here are some examples of the words that most open-ended questions start with:
- Tell me
Eric Burks could have simply asked me if I wanted to buy a cell phone, which I would have said no and walked away. Instead he asked the open-ended question, “What did you buy from GNC”, which instantly forced me to think about what I bought and give an explanation. He was quickly able to build on my reply and keep me engaged for 20 minutes.
Key Lesson: The secret to ensuring a great conversation is asking open-ended questions.