Charm has a place in every entrepreneur’s arsenal. You’re going to need it in and out of the office. When you’re trying to convince potential investors to throw in with you, it’ll come into play. When you’re trying to mitigate the effects of a setback on the start-up’s morale, you’ll need to be charming. The problem is that you may have developed a number of habits that make you less charming than you could be. The good news is that all you need to do is to identify the problem and fix it.
You Don’t Stop Talking
A conversation involves two or more people having an exchange of ideas. That exchange cannot happen if you monopolise the conversation and keep talking. You may have been on the other side of this problem. Just think about someone who never seems to shut up and you’ll understand just how important it is to know when to listen.
If you’re wondering whether or not you’re one such person, consider a few things. Think about your recent conversations and how much the other person got to say. Consider the entirety of the conversation. How much information did you get out? How much information did the other person get in? Do you even remember what they said?
You may also want to think about how people react when you approach. Do they scatter? Do they stand up when you approach? While it could mean any number of things, coupled with how much airtime you eat up it can be an indicator that you talk too much.
If you think you’re a chatterbox, fret not. The solution is easy – stop talking and start listening. It can be difficult, but not impossible. All you need to do is practice. When at meetings, hold your tongue for a bit longer than you normally would. End your statements with a question to prompt other people to talk. Do a little count in your head before talking to make sure that you’re not verbally pushing someone out of the conversation.
As an entrepreneur, you’re going to deliver a lot of bad news. It could be something as simple as an order being late, or it could be something a lot more difficult to say, such as when you have to terminate someone. However, you aren’t exclusively the bearer of bad news. In fact, when you’re not delivering bad news, you probably shouldn’t be a downer. You’ve probably met one of these people, so pessimistic that all you want to do is drown them out because they’re ruining your day with their complaints and their issues.
The problem is, you might be one of those people without even knowing it. Figuring out whether you are or not will require some introspection. Think about what comes up in conversations when you talk. Do you find yourself complaining about something all the time? Do people have a great idea of what sets you off or what grinds your goat? If you find that your conversations always revolve around whining or complaining, you may have a problem.
Resolving this is a matter of monitoring what you say. That’s simple in theory, but difficult in practice. You probably complain out of habit, so you’re going to have to work hard to control that habit. Whenever you get the urge to complain about something, instead try to give the listener a complement or talk shop. Consider the bright side – you didn’t get enough sleep, but at least you got all those reports done.
You Don’t Focus on the Conversation
You have a lot of things to handle as an entrepreneur. Wherever you are, you always have something to monitor, whether it’s how your target demographic is reacting to your new marketing campaign, to whether or not your employees are still fighting in the break room. You look at your phone, even as you’re talking to potential clients.
That may be your downfall. Being distracted, while understandable, does make the listener feel like you’re not paying attention. This can be extremely damaging – investors may feel as if they’re not important enough to merit your full attention, which can result in them backing away from any deals with your start-up.
The solution is simple – put your device away. When you’re at a meeting, turn off the phone and put it in your pocket. Focus on who you’re talking to and why you’re talking to them. If you are waiting for an urgent reply, let the listener know at the start of the conversation. If your phone allows for it, give the expected messenger a different ringtone so you can safely ignore the rest.
These three things are far from the only things that can keep a person from being charming, but they are some of the most common problems. It may be difficult, but take the time to examine yourself and how you talk to people. Your future and success as an entrepreneur may depend on it.