You probably are aware that people prefer to buy from people they like and trust. And I would bet if you were charming with your customers, they would buy more from you. Here’s what it takes to be charming in business.
Being charming starts with being liked, so how can you ensure that people will like you? Try not to be disliked. No one likes someone who tries to one up everything they say. Resist the urge to reply with your experience when someone tells you about a recent vacation, an accomplishment, or event. You diminish the other person when you do that. You also diminish the good will you could have created.
What can you do instead? Ask them to tell you more—your job is to listen and learn. Learn as much as you can about the other person you’re speaking with. Some of the things you hear may cause you to ask further questions, and that’s good. Your objective is to create a dialogue with the other person.
The good news for people who are shy is that it’s easier to have a conversation with others when you implement this strategy. Why? Because you’re not doing most of the talking. You’re engaging the other person and they get to talk about themselves—a subject most people are delighted to talk about. And when someone is delighted to talk about themselves, you get the benefit of being perceived as charming.
Charming people are great listeners—it’s part of their charm. How do you know you’re a great listener? It’s when you’ve listened well enough to someone you’ve met so that you can introduce them in a way that they’ll end up thinking, “Wow, that sounds great!”
Meeting new people in business gives you the perfect opportunity to ask questions. While you should never get too personal, you can still ask questions and learn a lot about another person you’ve just met. The time you spend at business networking events can be a great opportunity to practice your listening skills. Listening includes keeping the conversation going so you can listen, and that means you have to keep the conversation flowing by asking great questions.
Some questions can be general questions like, “How did you learn about this group?” or “How did you decide on your career?” or “How did you select this group to get involved in?” Notice that these questions are open-ended questions and can’t be answered by yes or no, or a few words. Open-ended questions get conversations going because the speaker has to give longer answers to your questions.
Above all, keep the conversation away from politics, religion, or other inflammatory subjects. Charming people never make others angry by what they say.
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Pay attention to how you look and sound. A scowl on your face will keep people from you, while a smile will draw them in. Along with having a pleasant look is keeping the conversation positive. Debbie Downers are never considered to be charming. In fact, those people who are always criticizing others or complaining about everything are avoided by most people.
I once worked with a Debbie Downer who complained relentlessly. I can’t remember one positive thing he said about anyone, and I worked with him for five years. But I can remember many of his complaints, and some were ridiculous. He even complained about the sidewalks in his town.
At meetings no one would want to talk to him. It was as if there was a wall around him keeping people out; his negativity was the barrier keeping people away.
Along with staying positive, you should give sincere compliments to others. Just like a Debbie Downer is universally disliked and never charming, someone who is open to giving compliments to others is liked and often perceived as charming.
Oscar Wilde once said, “It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.” It’s far better to be charming if you are in sales.