Conversation Skills and Career Success

Here’s a newsflash.  I saw an article in USA Today this week entitled “Facebook Can’t Replace Face-to-Face Conversation.”  That’s a no brainer.  If you want to build the strong relationships that will lead to your life and career success, you need to spend time with people getting to know them.  That’s why face-to-face conversation is so important.

The USA Today article did make a good point…

“Face-to-face conversations tend to be more positive, and more likely to be perceived as credible in comparison with on line…the richest social gold mine is literally right under our noses: in the word-of-mouth conversations that happen in our kitchens and living rooms, next to the office water cooler, and on the sidelines of youth sporting events.  These are the places where we actually live our lives.”

Tweet 127 in my career advice book Success Tweets says, “Become an excellent conversationalist by listening more than speaking.  Pay attention to what other people say; respond appropriately.”

Dynamic communication skills are one of the success factors I discuss in my new book Climbing the Corporate Ladder.  Face-to-face conversation skills, along with clear writing and presentation skills, are necessary for your career success.

The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines the word “dynamic” as, “Marked by continuous and productive activity.”  In many ways, this is a good definition for an effective conversation.  In a conversation, two types of activities occur simultaneously: speaking and listening.  In good conversations, both of these are continuous and productive.  In plain English, when you’re in a conversation, if you’re not speaking and providing information, you need to be listening and receiving it.

In other posts I’ve pointed out that asking good questions is an important way to become known as a great conversationalist.  But to take full advantage of the questions you ask, you need to really listen to the answers and respond appropriately.

Here are my top seven tips for becoming a good listener – and conversationalist.

1. Look the other person in the eye when he or she is speaking.  This demonstrates that you are engaged with him or her.

2. Listen to understand what the other person is saying – not to plan your rebuttal.

3. Listen really hard when the other person begins by saying something with which you don’t agree.

4. Know the words that trigger your emotions.  Don’t get distracted by them.

5. Be patient.  Some people take longer than others to make their point.  Don’t interrupt.

6. Ask clarification questions when you don’t understand.

7. Repeat what you have heard the other person say – to make sure you got it right, and to show him or her that you were listening.

If you use these seven tips in conversation, you will become known as a great conversationalist and a dynamic communicator.  You will also be on the road to creating the life and career success you want and deserve.

The common sense career success coach point here is simple.  Successful people are competent.  Dynamic communication is an important key success competency.  If you want to become a dynamic communicator, you have to become a good conversationalist.  To become a good conversationalist, follow the career advice in Tweet 107 in Success Tweets.  “Become an excellent conversationalist by listening more than speaking.  Pay attention to what other people say; respond appropriately.”  Learn to listen well.  Listening, like a lot of career success advice, is just common sense.  Show the other person you are engaged.  Focus on understanding, not on rebutting points with which you don’t agree.  Don’t get distracted by words that trigger your emotions.  Ask clarification questions to ensure you understand what is being said.  Repeat what you’ve heard.  Most of all, get in the habit of listening more than speaking.

That’s my common sense career advice on becoming a great conversationalist.  What do you think?  Please take a minute to share your thoughts with us in a comment.  As always, thanks for taking the time to read my daily musings on life and career success.  I value you and I appreciate you.


PS: If you haven’t already done so, I suggest that you check out my career advice book Success Tweets and its companion piece Success Tweets Explained.  The first gives you 140 bits of career success advice tweet style — in 140 characters or less.  The second is a whopping 390 + pages of career advice explaining each of the common sense tweets in Success Tweets in detail.  Go to to claim your free copy.  You’ll also start receiving my daily life and career success quotes.

PPS: Have you seen my membership site, My Corporate Climb?  It’s devoted to helping people just like you create career success inside large corporations.  You can find out about it by going to http://www.mycorporateclimb.


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  1. Laurel Brian says:

    Hi Bud! Your book ‘Climbing the Corporate Ladder’ is very interesting. And the first chapter is really awesome.

    Before reading this post, I found this motivational post- that changed my perspective on how to improve conversational skills.

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