If you want to genuinely connect with people, master 'the pause'
- Steve Herz is an author and president of The Montag Group, a marketing consulting agency for sports and entertainment talent.
- The following is an excerpt from his book "Don't Take Yes for an Answer: Using Authority, Warmth, and Energy to Get Exceptional Results."
- Herz stresses that in business dealings, especially sales, if you constantly talk over your clients rather than listen to them, you'll miss out on opportunities to develop meaningful professional relationships.
- Herz explains that embracing the 'pause' - breaking every few sentences, making eye contact, and receiving verbal or nonverbal acknowledgement - will make your clients feel more connected to what you're saying, and reinforce their trust in you.
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I once had a client who worked in sales and didn't understand why he was losing customers. Listening to the phone recordings of him doing business on the phone told me everything I needed to know. I told him, "You're a hard worker. You're smart, fast, and you're very skilled. But you will continue to lose out on opportunities until you start better acknowledging the other person. It's all output with you - talk, talk, talk. You're talking at people versus creating a connection that draws them in. How can you know what someone wants if you don't give them an opportunity to tell you?"
I handed him a stopwatch. "The next time you get on a sales call, start the watch. Give yourself only seven seconds max to speak and then pause."
It might sound contradictory, but creating space allows for more connection. Early in my career, I chased away a potential client by talking too much and listening too little. Once I learned to pause, I was able to read the room and gauge how my "audience" is responding to me.
- Pausing also creates space for the other person to interject and add their thoughts. Even if the person you're speaking with doesn't say anything in response to your pause, and simply nods or laughs, these nonverbal assertions still keep the conversation moving forward. Also, pausing doesn't mean you won't be able to finish your thought. A lot of people think that they're supposed to speak to the period - to the very end of a sentence before pausing. But it's often in mid-pause when the other person will say something that's tangential and additive to your point, which will further enhance the dialogue, reinforce your conversation, and boost the feeling of warmth between you. Pausing is a little thing, but it makes a big impact.
Are you a big talker? Story and joke teller? In your next meeting, take a "pause break" every few sentences or mid-sentence to allow your listener(s) a chance to reflect, as you make eye contact and nonverbally acknowledge them. It takes practice but if you habitually pause, you'll avoid droning on and alienating people. Plus, the very act of stopping will invariably impact your own perspective on the mutuality and duality of healthy dialogue.
My client resisted my advice at first, but eventually he tried my stopwatch technique. A month later, he reported that he'd closed a record number of sales. In addition, he felt like he was feeling a positive shift in his personal relationships. I was thrilled, but not surprised. He was now balancing his output with other people's input. When you do that, you don't just more effectively communicate your message, you communicate respect, which in turn generates respect from others. The pause invites the person or people you're speaking with to reciprocate and engage you. His clients didn't realise it, but they were responding to the overall effect of heightened warmth.
Steve Herz is the author of "Don't Take Yes for an Answer: Using Authority, Warmth, and Energy to Get Exceptional Results." He is the president of The Montag Group, a sports and entertainment talent and marketing consultancy, and a career advisor to CEOs, lawyers, entrepreneurs, and young professionals. Prior to joining TMG, Steve was the President and Founding Partner of IF Management, an industry leader whose broadcasting division represented over 200 television and radio personalities.
Adapted from "Don't Take Yes for an Answer: Using Authority, Warmth, and Energy to Get Exceptional Results" by Steve Herz, copyright 2020. Reprinted with permission by Harper Business/Harper Collins.
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