How You Can Become a Conversation Rockstar

So much about life revolves around effective communication.

As a primary research expert, I am always looking to for ways to motivate others to share. You need to understand what makes them comfortable to share.

I recently read Traci Brown’s book, Persuasion Point: Body Language and Speech for Influence. While the book focuses on closing sales deals, the same tactics will work to promote sharing when conducting competitive intelligence collection or win/loss interviews. I will focus on speech, since we are often conducting these interviews over the telephone, so we don’t have the benefit of seeing the other person, although we can surely sense beyond their words.

One quick and easy way to start the connection is to match their speed and tone of speech. This also pushes you over to their side by being flexible, and forgetting about yourself.

Traci describes four communication preferences:

  • Visual
  • Auditory
  • Kinesthetic
  • Auditory Digital

First, figure out your own communication preference, so you learn how to modify your language, tone and pace to match the other person’s communication preference. If you don’t, you’re apt to lose them in your conversation.

Visual people are quick as they are often competent and confident. They think and speak quickly. If you slow down, their mind will wander. They require less detail to process information, and when they change the subject you know they are ready for the next topic. They are interested in how things look or will look. They often focus on the future and have a big picture, strategic focus. They can easily think other are idiots. They are judgmental, very observant and don’t automatically like you or your ideas until you prove yourself.

Words/phrases to use: see, look, appear, show, dawn, view. “I see what you’re saying. It’s unclear. How does this look to you?”

Auditory people learn by listening, and are interested in how things sound. They are easily distracted by noise. Tone of voice is important, and they can be hurt by the wrong tone. They like sequence and order and to be told how they’re doing. They are less interested in how things look, and live in the here and now. Structure kills them as they like freedom. A plus is they automatically like you and your idea.

Words/phrases to use: hear, listen, sound, harmonize, music. “I hear you. That rings a bell. How does this sound? Clear as a bell.”

Kinesthetic people tend to speak slowly, in long phrases and breathe deeply. Slow your speech if you’re a fast talker and be patient as conversations tend to be longer. Listen for their deep feelings to emerge slowly. They’re often in occupations that use their hands: carpenter, chef, mechanic, artist.

They need more extensive detail to process information, and respond to touch. They tend to like you and your ideas, a plus. Like Auditories, they live in the here and now.

Words/phrases to use: feel, touch, grasp, get a hold of, slip through. “Does it feel right? Do you grasp this idea?”

Auditory Digital people like detail, structure and order. They are often lawyers, computer programmers, engineers or financial professionals. They often exhibit characteristics of the other three communication preferences.

They tend to be smart, curious and know a little about most things. They can operate in their own head, are often judgmental and don’t necessarily like you or your ideas, until you objectively prove yourself.

Words/phrases to use: think, learn, process, understand, learn. “So does this make sense to you? This is a great way to learn. Do you think this is a good idea?”

In reality, many people jump among these communication preferences depending on what you’re talking about. Sometimes you can’t detect a communication style quickly enough in a telephone conversation. So pepper words of each of the communication preferences, and note what they seem to resonate most by listening to their tone and words.

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3 thoughts on “How You Can Become a Conversation Rockstar”

  1. These are standard NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) concepts although auditory-digital is not usually viewed as a primary communication style. That tends to come in in response to something that requires reflection or deep thinking (essentially pulling stuff out of your in-head library of memories and thoughts).

    The other three are the most common styles – with visual being the most dominant followed by auditory. (There are a few people who have a gustatory (taste) or olfactory (smell) style but these are uncommon. If somebody keeps talking by saying stuff like “I like the taste of that” or “that idea stinks” you could need to think of these styles).

    Also, look at body position when building rapport – not just the tone, timbre, speed, of the way they talk and the words used. Are they crossing their arms (or legs). You can build rapport by duplicating – or to be more subtle, cross arms if they cross legs (or lightly cross hands to match arms).

    Eye movements can also give ideas on how somebody is thinking. E.g. when somebody is visualising something, their eyes tend to move up. When thinking of sounds, they stay level or down to the left when having an internal conversation.

  2. All good points Arthur, although this article only focused on the Auditory. Most of the book, “Persuasion Point: Body Language and Speech for Influence,” focuses on Visual, as in the body. However, since many of us in competitive intelligence conduct interviews over the telephone, we don’t have the benefit of the visual. That’s why I just focused on the Audio.

    With the increase popularity of SKYPE, Google hangouts, Zoom and other visual media, we have more visual cues.

    Look forward to seeing you at #AIIP16.

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