About This Blog

This blog shares the best career, leadership and recruitment advice from marketing, communications and sales A-players who help companies achieve brilliant growth.

 

This blog is brought to you by Smart, Savvy + Associates. We are a specialized recruitment firm with offices in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto.

Our Expertise:

We place roles in marketing, public relations, client services and project management, digital communications, graphic and digital design, sales and sales management. Check out our Job Board for current career opportunities.

Workshops are delivered by leaders we’ve come to know and respect—they’re guaranteed to serve-up solid insights and bolster your ability to lead with confidence and influence.

We know what employers really want – and it goes way beyond experience and knowledge. We craft resumes and tune-up social profiles based on our up-to-date knowledge of what hiring managers and CEOs want to hear and see from you.

Our Coaching programs will help you get intentional about career planning with the help of a professional career-coach and supportive peer group.

 

Want to suggest content for the Smart Savvy blog? Tweet about it using #smavvyblog hashtag OR drop us a line at blog[at]smartsavvy.com.

Deloitte Survey: What Millenials Want In 2017

Posted by on Feb 9, 2017 in Career | 0 comments

Deloitte Survey: What Millenials Want In 2017

Major studies revealing trends in the workplace can help us all be better leaders. That’s why we get excited when Deloitte releases its annual survey on millennials – the aggregation of nearly 8,000 interviews of millennials employed full-time in 30 countries worldwide. While most of us lack the resources, time and commitment to gather this kind of info, the results are worth pouring over – especially if retaining and motivating staff is on your radar. Here are our key learnings on what Millennials want from their workplace and how to keep them engaged and empowered:   Millennials are frightened but not idle. In 2016, Deloitte reported an alarming “loyalty gap” amongst 18-to-34-year-olds. The 2017 antidote? An increasingly unstable world. Yes, the current climate of divisive politics and looming threats have found millennials more inclined (by ten whole percentage points) to stay put. They’re shaken, but not ide. Millennials feel accountable and want to contribute to good causes – and they think their workplaces are a great place to start. When offered the chance to get involved in community groups or non-profits, millennials feel influential and empowered, which in turn translates into loyalty. Without purpose, only one out of five report being satisfied at work. The more we work together, the happier millennials will be High personal accountability paired with a “liberal/relaxed” management structure is the preferred environment for 76% of millennials.   When it comes to coaching, they want to hear “plain, straight-talking language.” They welcome passionate opinions but cringe when business leaders take controversial or divisive positions that drive wedges. “Collaborative,” “consensual,” “inclusive” are the kind of words Millennials want to use when describing your 9 am scrum, all-hands or strategic planning. And they’re even ready and willing to mentor the up-and-coming Gen Y’ers in your ranks.   Millennials still want it all – and maybe they should have it? Freelance flexibility with full-time stability. Millennials and employers alike are seeing this simple equation add up to some pretty spectacular results: greater productivity, employee engagement and personal well-being. Initial fears about possible abuse or loss of productivity have largely turned out to be unfounded. Three-quarters (73 percent) of those offered flexible working opportunities say they trust colleagues to respect it. If you’re not offering flexible start/end times or allowing the occasional work-from-home day, you may want to reconsider.   If you’re interested in the original report you can read or download Deloitte’s Millennial Survey 2017...

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Top 3 Tips for Hiring + Mentoring An Ideal Team Player

Posted by on Jan 25, 2017 in Hiring | 0 comments

Top 3 Tips for Hiring + Mentoring An Ideal Team Player

Last week, we reviewed the three must-haves of any team player, following the essential virtues – Humble, Hungry and Smart – laid out in Patrick Lencioni’s new book, The Ideal Team Player. This post is all about putting those virtues into action – in interviews, staff assessments and team development. Most of our clients already know they want a team player: They ask for leaders – people capable of motivating, inspiring and managing others. They talk about culture – the values, traditions and even emotions that fuel their work. They bring up all the times they definitely did NOT hire a team player (often, painful). But even though they know they’re looking for that “ideal” person, they aren’t exactly sure how and where to identify them. And even with the three virtues memorized, it’s difficult – in the day-to-day realities of HR processes, meetings and deliverables  – to dial-into what truly makes someone “hungry, humble and smart.”   “The cost of hiring a non-team player is lost productivity, downward pressure on the team’s results-and the misery of working with the person.” – Patrick Lencioni That’s where expert recruiters come in. Here are some of the techniques we use to smoke out the pretenders in interviews. We think these same tactics also apply to performance reviews, one-on-one’s and conflict resolution – and personal development, too.    Stay Nimble Recruiters are skilled at the gentle-judo often required to “get real” in interviews. Candidates with large egos (#yuge, even) can present as powerful, capable and extremely confident. When you get the feeling #AlternativeFacts are being presented, a slight adjustment or change of tack in the conversation can help de-stabilize the “only hungry” and reveal their troubling lack of humility. Stop asking hypothetical questions (i.e. how would you deal with/address….) and get down to specifics. Compliment or call-out behaviours that either align with the virtues or go against them (Lencioni says to do this publicly for the sake of others as well) Look back, way back. Work ethic – or Hunger – is often developed early in life. Lencioni says that asking candidates to look back can help you identify their capacity for “difficulty, sacrifice, and hardship.”  It can also give great insight into what makes someone tick. If you’re not comfortable delving into the teenage years, try asking about their most challenging group tasks, volunteer experience or athletic-endeavours in university/college. This can be done formally in an interview or more causally at the office happy-hour – take time to learn about your teammates on a personal-level. Honour your sixth sense Too many “I’s” and “me’s” in conversation says exactly what you think it says – this person probably doesn’t play well with others. Even leaders who live and breathe the three virtues can self-excuse themselves into hiring skills over people. Lencioni says, “don’t ignore hunches.” A smart person has good intuition about people, i.e. they likely won’t give a twenty-minute monologue during an interview. If you’re looking to evaluate a current team player for humility or smarts, observe them, intentionally, in meetings. Do they listen? Do they get aggressive? Do they complement? Do they ever apologize? Leconini also offers a number of FREE online resources and guides to help you hone in on the humble, hungry and smart candidates you’re looking for:...

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The 3 Must-Haves Of Any Team Player (And We Mean Musts)

Posted by on Jan 18, 2017 in Career | 0 comments

The 3 Must-Haves Of Any Team Player (And We Mean Musts)

At Smart Savvy, we’ve long prescribed to the 3-way mirror rule of recruitment: check every angle. Now we have a new take: the 3-legged stool. That’s because we read a book: The Ideal Team Player: How To Cultivate the Three Essential Virtues by NYT best-selling author, Patrick Lencioni. (In fact, we liked the book so much that we bought a copy for all of our clients. Exhibit A: one of our happy recipients.) Building on his brilliant guide to the five major dysfunctions of a team, Lencioni’s newest “business fable” takes a closer look at the individuals who populate your pack. What makes a person a true and consistent “value-add”? What causes them to detract?   Humble, Hungry and Smart: The Ideal Team Player   According to Lencioni, once you check off the baseline “stuff” (technical skills,  experience, personal hygiene), the ultimate success of any new/current hire depends on three, crucial personality traits: Humble – Leaves their ego at the door. Not “overly arrogant” and not meek. Possesses BOTH the humility to champion others and the self-confidence to bring ideas to the table. Level 5 leader. Hungry – “Self diligent and motivated.” Internally driven. Tackles problems and projects with a sense of urgency and for the “good of the team.”   Smart – Simply put, people smarts. “Appropriate and aware.” Helps team members feel “appreciated and understood” even in tough love situations. The crux? All three virtues are non-negotiable. Teammates who lack even one are unbalanced and pose great challenges to both the team’s health and the organizations’ productivity. For example: If you’re hiring for a sales role, Lencioni warns that you might excuse an oversized ego for what you see as a valuable dose of hungry. You know, the #goalcrusher who polarises teammates. Hungry-only? Lencionci calls them “the bulldozer.” Watch out.   That pleasant, kind-hearted direct report who you just really like? They might be a bit too complacent in the warm, camaraderie of office life. You’ll recognize the all-humble. They may have been coasting for some time. They’re “the pawn.” Don’t be blinded by the two-virtue candidate. They’re humble enough to serve the team and hungry enough to get things done but, without smarts, their words and actions can leave a trail of interpersonal meltdowns. (Humble + Hungry) – Smart = The “Accidental Mess Maker.” After 10+ years in the recruitment industry and the launch of a successful leader development series, we’re more than confident in how we help clients find, retain and develop #standapart people. In fact, we gave those methods, our culture, a name – People Are the Plan™. But we also recognize brilliance when we see it. Lencioni’s booked deepened our perspective and provided us with a new vocabulary for what we do and how we do it. If you embrace Lencioni’s three virtues, we certain you’ll start making better decisions across your company’s entire people culture. And, we’re here to help! Watch for enhanced services from Smart Savvy in 2017 that build on Lencioni’s ideals. And stay tuned for part two of this post next week when we’ll share tips on how to put Lencioni’s model in action for hiring and employee screening. Want to dive deeper into The Ideal Team Player? Join us on Wednesday, March 29th for our LeaderLounge. You’ll get...

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Career Resolutions for 2017 You’ll Want to Steal (and Actually Keep)

Posted by on Jan 11, 2017 in Career | 0 comments

Career Resolutions for 2017 You’ll Want to Steal (and Actually Keep)

Rolling into 2017 without a resolutions list? Fear not. We asked a few top marketing, sales and HR professionals from Vancouver (and beyond) where they’ll be investing their time and energy this year. Read their replies to get your ideas flowing for a new year and new you.  “This 2017, I resolve to…..” Focus on the fundamentals  Get more sleep. Drink more water. Prioritize relationships IRL. Work within my “circle of influence” (without wasting energy on things that are not). And always take the default position of assuming the best of people. We’re all trying to navigate our way to success in challenging times – and we all deserve the “benefit of the doubt.”   – Rich Workman, Sales Manager, NA West, Sophos Inc. Slow down and breathe.  In 2017, I will be more focused on taking strategic breaks to reflect, think things through in a quiet space, and breathe deeply on a more regular basis throughout each day. Easy to say, hard to do, but I know my best work is done from a thoughtful, present state of mind. That’s my one big resolution for a successful year ahead.  – Dorit Shackleton VP, Head of Integration, Global Corporate Affairs, SAP Favour quality over quantity  I love my line of work and the people and organizations I get to work with – so much so that I I have a really hard time saying ‘no’ when new opportunities arise. But all that “yes’ can dilute my good intentions. I’m working towards achieving a work-life balance, and being confident in saying ‘no’ will be an important step in reaching that goal. – Bianca Bujan, Owner, Bee Communications  Be pro-social Things are getting faster and faster every day. What I believe we need now more than ever is community: people working together in positive and helpful ways to make the future better . How to act – and help others act – for the benefit of the whole? That’s what I’ll be working on in 2017.  – Ashleah Wilson, VP, Marketing, Chimp Find more joy/ less screens This year, I commit to jumping off the data treadmill as often as possible. I resolve to keep pace with people and moments, not pings and comments. How we spend our days, after all, is how we spend our lives.  – Christina Crook, Author, The Joy of Missing Out: Finding Balance in a Wired World and Founder, Daily JOMO Be more consistent It’s what sets us apart from top athletes – starting something and then not having the focus, time or motivation to continue, whether that’s a weight loss resolution or my website (full disclosure). To help me be more consistent in my work and personal life, I will set smaller, short-term goals in 2017. This will give me the chance to celebrate the small victories that eventually lead to me achieving the bigger goal.  – Wahiba Chair, Senior Social Media Strategist & Instructor, WahibaChair.com Love what you do In 2017, I’ll be investing big time in my team’s work and life happiness; which I believe can co-exist without the notion of “balance”. With each passing year of reflection, I’m further reminded how time waits for no one — so do what you love and most importantly, love what you do! Business and personal successes are usually not far behind. – Rocky Ozaki, VP,...

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Which Hogwarts House Does Your Company Belong In?

Posted by on Dec 15, 2016 in Corporate Culture | 0 comments

Which Hogwarts House Does Your Company Belong In?

In the spirit of Fantastic Beasts taking the theatres by storm (okay, maybe I’ve seen it three times), Smart Savvy thought to take a deeper dive into the world of Harry Potter (okay, maybe it was only my idea) through a corporate lens, of course. All four Hogwarts houses have very specific traits, characteristics, and colours that identify their people — much like the identifying corporate culture of each workplace (only minus the wearing of colours…and having a Quidditch team). Each House is uniquely distinct and attracts different personalities. Gryffindors are lions: brave and courageous, daring to do things others would shy away from (like facing Voldemort, for example). Hufflepuffs are as gentle as they sound — they’re kind, trustworthy, and just (not to mention they’ve produced the least amount of dark wizards out of all the houses #peacekeepers). Ravenclaws are sharp like their name, a house of intelligence, wit, and wisdom. Lastly, Slytherin has a bad rap but actually possesses admirable qualities such as determination, charm, and ambition.  Where Other Companies Were Sorted… So at this point all JK Rowling fanatics are thinking, where does my company and culture fit? Where would the sorting hat send me and my colleagues? Luckily for you, our friends over at Venngage created a sorting quiz — think Pottermore, but for businesses — and even sorted companies based on that company’s response or their Glassdoor/culture reviews. If you’ve ever doubted that Slytherin is the evil house, think again: Tech Company Culture Hogwarts Houses | Make an Infographic And Smart Savvy is… After much humming and hawing (how does that sorting hat do it?) and wanting to answer with TWO answers for most questions, Smart Savvy landed in the Ravenclaw crew. That’s right, we’re witty and we know it. No, but in all seriousness, Smart Savvy prides itself on being a think tank and pushing itself to continually learn, grow, and progress. We fit right in with the Ravenclaw traits and are happy to be an original among originals in that...

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Three Interview Blindspots You Need To Know About

Posted by on Dec 8, 2016 in Hiring | 0 comments

Three Interview Blindspots You Need To Know About

Mirror Mirror on the wall – who is the fairest of them all? When it comes to interviewing candidates, being fair should be the top requirement of every hiring manager’s list. The expectation is that each candidate is assessed solely on their credentials and experiences. Although this is the expectation, it is not necessarily what is happening behind the scenes… … truth is – we are human. And, being human means we have blind spots; areas of being and acting and feeling and interviewing that we cannot see. This blog is to help you — the reader, the interviewer, the human — uncover and make aware of 3 important interview biases . Once you can spot them, you can acknowledge and recognize when it is happening. This will allow you to make more informed decisions when looking for the ideal candidate, and will enable you to truly be the fairest of them all.   1. Similarity-Attraction Bias AKA the “I like you because you are like me” bias. The saying that “opposites attract” could be true, but with the underlying tones of the similarity-attraction bias, it is very rare that we will give this opposite person a chance – especially in the workplace. There’s an internal magnetic attraction when we interact with somebody like ourselves. We have a particular bias that causes us to be attracted to people that are like us: extroverts are attracted extroverts, marketers like marketers, GoT fans pull in other GoT fans. It makes relating to one another far easier and can help us create common ground. That said, with all of its good intentions, it can put quite the hook in the hiring process. When we are drawn to people who are like us, we start hiring on grounds of “I like this person” vs. “This person would be good at the job at hand.” It can also mean you’ll end up with a team of clones and similar skill sets. The challenge is, we are often unaware that this bias is occurring in the background. The trick is to catch yourself in thought. If you like the candidate, stop to think why you are feeling this way. Is it based on the requirements of the position, or based on your feelings about their likeliness to you?   2. Confirmation Bias Humans LOVE to figure sh*t out. The confirmation bias happens when we have a quick initial thought, and then look for signs and cues that validate our primary understanding. Problem is – our first thought is never our best thought (and likely not even our own thought). This bias unfortunately creates some of the worst hiring situations we’ve ever seen, and much of this bias relies on the first few minutes of an interview.  “Those who made a good first impression were instantly assumed to be competent and the interviewer used the balance of the interview to seek out evidence to support the initial reaction. If the candidate made a weak first impression, the interviewer would assume the person was incompetent and proactively went out to prove it. Questions that could quickly prove them wrong were unconsciously avoided.” – Lou Adler, The One Hiring Mistake Everyone Makes and How to Avoid It When confronted with a confirmation bias blind spot,let go of what you think you know and...

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The Recruiting Strategies Of The Voice Coaches

Posted by on Nov 10, 2016 in Leadership | 0 comments

The Recruiting Strategies Of The Voice Coaches

The Voice is viewed by millions of fans every season with the blinds being, undeniably, the most exciting part of each season. What do the coaches listen for? What do those tune-perfect ears hear that mine don’t?  But more than that is the vulnerability each coach shows in deciding to be on the show. What if nobody picks your team? What if only three people want to be coached by you? In steps the recruitment strategy of The Voice, where each coach has to win people over in their own individual way. Should you be pushy? Should you let people come to you? Should you get Dolly Parton to appear in video for you? Here are the recruitment processes we’ve witnessed from each coach: Adam Developer. Cultivator. Focus. He’s got the skinnies, the falsetto, the tattoos. He’s got the swagger and he’s got the strategy. Team Adam is team focus: he’s looking for x,y,z and he will make it very known when and if you fit into the overall vision of his team. He zeroes in on exactly what he wants and he doesn’t hit his button just because someone else has (cough, Miley, cough). He thinks potential-first and begins the coaching phase right from the blinds. He’s a natural teacher, a developer, and he knows you have sh*t to learn (especially from him). [WPGP gif_id=”6078″ width=”600″] Miley Relator. Individualizer. #YouGotThis. This comes as a surprise to no one –the coach wearing pasted pink flowers to her denim jacket is most certainly team express yourself. Her recruitment on The Voice involves making everyone feel individual, special, and mining out the “what makes you you?” emotion. (Dare we say she’s Dr. Seuss re-incarnate?) She attracts those who want to appear to be different (hello mustard yellow velvet jumpsuit on Darby) and who are tired of the status quo. Her hands-on approach to coaching – with the sing-alongs and the dance-alongs — say one thing: I’ll help you take you there, but YOU got this. [WPGP gif_id=”6081″ width=”600″] Alicia Woo. Zen. Positivity. Prepare to be charmed. Alicia is the new Pharrell: she’ll wordsmith you right out of logic and into her arms – and look hella fashionable (in a way we could NEVER be) while doing it. She will talk to you in a spiritual way and tell you about you in a way that is caring and complimentary (and not domineering or insensitive). She goes for the emotion and keeps her singer in the spotlight. “What brought you here? Why do you sing? How did you do that?” She’s involved, supportive, and most importantly, #shesgotyou. [WPGP gif_id=”6083″ width=”600″] Blake Self-assurance. Certainty. #FingerPoint. Welcome to the realm of self-assurance. If you’re looking for been there, done that, then Blake is your man. With a track record of four wins – and not afraid to tell people (more specifically, Adam) about it – Blake knows what it takes to take you to the end. He allows talent to come to him, without begging, grovelling, or pleas. He has somewhat of a trend in taste, attracting most of the country, bluesy-rock talent in The Voice. The real question from him is, no matter what genre you are, why WOULDN’T you pick him?...

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How to Reel in Interview Rambling in 3 Easy Steps

Posted by on Nov 1, 2016 in Hiring | 0 comments

How to Reel in Interview Rambling in 3 Easy Steps

Of all the deadly job interview sins, rambling is one of the worst. An HR Manager recently confided to me this about a candidate: He looked great on paper, but in-person he wouldn’t stop talking. I felt like I needed reins. As Matt Youngquist writes in his article on Interview Rambling, “Many candidates talk until they run out of steam or eventually just trail off to the point at which the interviewer decides to interrupt them. This is not ideal, as you might imagine.” Chalk it up to nerves? I’m not so sure. Feeling on-the-spot is one thing, but I’d credit most interview rambling to a simple lack of candidate preparation. As the interviewer, I want to see a candidate’s top performance, not their first rehearsal. After a first meeting, I tend to remember not just what a candidate said but how they made me feel. Was I intrigued? Was I annoyed? Did I feel my time and my questions were valued? Was I comfortable? Unfocused, long-winded talking can kill the sense that a two-way conversation is happening. It can also make a candidates seem unorganized, unsure of his/her self and unable to cope with pressure. And, frankly, it can be boring. Here’s how to pull back on interview rambling and make every word count: 1. Start in a Good Place Glassdoor.com recommends you take some time pre-interview to get happy and confident about who you are as a candidate – especially as it correlates to the job in question. Ask yourself: Why are you a great fit for the job? Do you have exemplary and compelling stories to relate about your career? Are you excited about you? Luckily, interview questions themselves are highly predictable – or at least the overarching themes are (prove leadership; prove likability; prove experience). Career expert, Connie Hauer says before any interview, candidates should spend significant time researching the company, anticipating questions, and cataloging their proudest accomplishments. 2. Get Comfortable with Silence Many people ramble simply because the interviewer doesn’t jump in right away after they’ve answered a question, so they start to back up (this time a bit lost on where they’re headed) and end up blabbering. Silence doesn’t always signal displeasure. Interviews are compressed periods of time when a lot of information is exchanged and a lot of first impressions need to be examined. Allow sufficient time after each answer so that your interviewer can digest, think, and respond. These slightly awkward moments are a great time to read body language. Is their head nodding? Are they writing something down? Are their brows furrowed? Allow the interviewer some time to tell you, verbally and physically, how they’re feeling and adjust your course from there. 3. End Your Answers With This Simple Phrase Once you’ve answered the question, look your interviewer in the eye and ask them this: Would you like me to expand? Here’s why I love this question: it’s courteous (you’re acknowledging their original motivation for asking the question in the first place) and its shows you care about whether you’ve done a good job. Essentially, you’re asking for on-the-spot feedback. How am I doing? Hey, I don’t mind nerves. I can almost always overlook them. Where it gets uncomfortable is when a candidate starts to lose themselves and stops reading the room. As an interviewer, I want a voice in the...

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Questions To Ask In An Interview That Will Increase Your Chances Of Getting Hired

Posted by on Oct 27, 2016 in Hiring | 0 comments

Questions To Ask In An Interview That Will Increase Your Chances Of Getting Hired

Research demonstrates that an interview is either won or lost based on two essential ingredients. When combined, these ingredients undoubtedly result in interview success. What are these essentials? 1) Confidence and 2) Enthusiasm. The challenge with both of these ‘additives?’ If they are not applied in appropriate measure they can become too concentrated and in some cases, may even become lethal. Truth be told, both walk a fine line: confidence can easily become arrogance and (over) enthusiasm may be interpreted as desperation. One of the best ways to bring these two ingredients to the table without going overboard is to ‘pepper’ them throughout the interview by asking smart, savvy, and well-timed questions. One of the most common pieces of positive post-interview feedback we receive is that interviewers were impressed with the quality of thoughtful questions posed by the interviewee. Conversely, when we receive feedback that the interviewee “did not have any questions for us,” it’s often a deal breaker.  Gone are the days of generic interview questions like ‘how do you define success in this role’?  To actively demonstrate both confidence and enthusiasm you want to ensure you ‘attach’ yourself to the job in question. Meaning, you want to demonstrate that you can envision yourself in the job and establish how you will thoughtfully approach the role (and its mandate).  Asking astute, tailored (vs. generic) questions allows your interviewer to travel with you as you exhibit how you would tackle the role once it is awarded to you. Here are a few tips how to craft questions that demonstrate competencies: Research your interviewer and ask them specific questions about their career-path and how they have landed at the company and why they chose to sign on. Ask your interviewer questions around what projects they currently have in motion that are giving them career-joy or challenging them. Study the company’s newsroom, press releases, and/or coverage and craft a question or two about something currently on their radar that few other interviewees would know about. If the annual report is available online, look through it and derive a few questions from the inclusions. Ask questions around mandate and contributing to bottom line (increasing revenue, decreasing expenses, improving efficiencies) i.e. “How your role can best make a contribution to overall organizational health?” Rather than asking for your interviewer to articulate the organizational culture, ask them to describe how their teams celebrate success and takes corrective action when they have gone off course. Review the social feeds, see what stories are being told, and cite a few of them when zeroing in on culture, brand, and values. Bring all of the above in a handy notebook and get ready to reap the...

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How To Have Better Conversations

Posted by on Oct 20, 2016 in Career | 0 comments

How To Have Better Conversations

We’ve heard enough about the weather already. Clouds can only be so exciting and blue sky is, well, always blue. It’s time to charter into new and unknown topics – into conversations  that are memorable, intellectually stimulating, and unforgettable. So how exactly do you walk away from an interaction feeling like you’re the Oprah of conversation? There are a few unspoken rules that need to be in place for you to begin.   1. A little give, a little take Conversations are two-way, like a see saw. They are about asking questions and about sharing information – back and forth. They are an opportunity for someone to get to know you and you to know them so don’t just answer the question – elaborate a little then ask a question back. After a good conversation you should know something about the person and they should know something about you. If you don’t, you’ve either been interrogating the person (too may questions) or you’ve been talking all about yourself (which fails to impress).   2. Love the small talk Drop the old “I hate small talk” adage. No you don’t. I mean, do you really want to jump into a deeply personal discussion with a complete stranger? Bring up your personal philosophies, your religio-politico thoughts, your marriage troubles? Didn’t think so. Small talk is an essential part of a conversation, it’s how you break the ice. It’s the diving board to jump off and jump in. It helps you find common ground and gives you clues and cues about the person you’re speaking to. Think current events, sports finals, the US Election (okay, that one might be a little dangerous) and what you do for work.   3. Find commonalities As soon as you find SOME commonality —you’re both obsessed with Pokemon Go, you’re avid readers of Game of Thrones, you work in the same industry—you instantly form some kind of a deeper connection beyond having just met. Research tells us that we like people who are like us, so the key to great conversation is to find what you have in common. Once you establish commonalities, it sets the stage for great conversation and connection and moves you away from small talk.   4. Stay in the know In order to upgrade from small talk to beefier conversations, you have to be in the know. Ensure you’re reading books, paying attention to thought leaders and conferences, consuming local and global news, knowing your geography, attending movies/concerts, and staying current on social media. You’re bound to find something to talk about (or never stop talking about) if you stay active on those fronts. (And let’s be real, there’s nothing more conversation-killing than when someone brings up, say, a current event that you know absolutely nothing about. #Embarrassing for everyone involved.)   5. Ask great questions People like to talk about themselves and what they know, so go in curious and ask great questions. What do you love most about your job?  What was your path to <<insert title here>>?  What was the best piece of advice you ever got? If you’re looking for great icebreakers, we have a practically unlimited list of the BEST questions you could possibly ask someone. We’re not kidding, these work every time. Like public speaking,...

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