Quick Tip: Don’t start a business conversation by inviting a “No.”
Today’s professional communication tip is simple but powerful. When starting a business conversation with a client or a colleague, whether in person or on the phone, avoid the DANGER PHRASE: “Are you busy?” Instead, use the POWER PHRASE: “Do you have a moment?” If someone is at work, we should assume he or she is busy, right? To do otherwise would be insulting. Furthermore, when you are calling people in their homes, the same principle applies. Assume that person is busy. Many people–whether they tell you or not–are offended when asked, “Are you busy?” Sometimes such a question promotes a sarcastic response, and sometimes people keep their aggravation to themselves–but it’s there nonetheless. The simple question can sour the mood of the listener, so why ask it?
When beginning a conversation, be cool about it. . . .
Instead of asking people whether or not they have a life (which is what “are you busy?” implies), try something such as, “Do you have a moment?” or “I wonder if I could have just a few minutes of your time?” Most people have a moment and will give it to you at your request. And when you ask for just a few minutes, try to keep it to that unless the client takes the lead and extends the conversation. Whatever you do–don’t ever just start in talking, whether you are dealing with a cold call or someone with whom you have a business relationship. Whether on the phone or in person, always do the prospect or client or colleague the courtesy of asking whether this is a good time to talk. Never assume they were sitting there, just hoping to hear from you. And btw–this applies to your boss, your co-workers, and even your friends. A little finesse goes a long way when you want someone to interrupt what they’re doing and pay attention to you!
If you take time to prepare your opening lines, you’ll get your conversation off on the right foot, and increase your chances of communication success–and therefore financial success. And by the way–do you know the best closing lines for a cold call? Drop me an email and I’ll tell you what they are.
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