Working a Room: The ABC’s of Interrupting a Conversation

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Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert when it comes to entering a room full of strangers you break into a sweat and have butterflies flying in your stomach. Working a room can be hard, if you don’t know what you’re doing.

A recent post I read talks about the top four most “uncomfortable” moments when working a room:

  1. Starting the interaction
  2. Breaking off an ongoing conversation
  3. Bringing someone new into your conversation
  4. Interrupting an ongoing conversation

The post offers a few pointers on the last point, “interrupting an ongoing conversation,” as that can be one of the most uncomfortable things to do from the above four.

So if you want to walk up to a group and join their conversation, here are some tips:

First, take a deep breath & realize that people in networking events EXPECT you to break into their conversations. You’re introducing them to new people (yourself) without them having to interrupt someone else’s conversation. Some people will be absolutely giddy that you’re rescuing them from the previous conversation.

Second, breaking into someone else’s conversation takes some guts but it gets easier with practice. It’s as easy as A-B-C:

A. Do what you would do if you saw someone you already know. That is, walk up & catch the eye of one member of the group, then stick out your hand to shake his/her hand.

B. Say, “Excuse me. I’m ____. May I join your conversation?” Amazingly creative, huh? But, as with “Open Sesame,” the group will magically open up to make room for you.

C. Sometimes the group is in a meaty conversation when you walk up, so just introduce yourself briefly with your name (no elevator speech at this point) & say, “You looked as if you were in an interesting conversation when I walked up. Please continue.”

Building your business network by working a room well can be as easy as A-B-C if you know how to do it well and with confidence.

When it comes to business networking, the little things you do make a big difference.

Interpersonal Communication Skills training can be a great way to learn all about working a room including tips on reading body language, prepping up your conversation skills, perfecting your handshake and much more.

 

Top 4 Interpersonal Communication Skills You Need to Get Ahead at Work

What are the most important skills to have to get ahead in your career? Some essential skills include increasing your visibility, getting others to perceive you in a positive light, developing your executive presence and having strong interpersonal communication skills.

What are interpersonal communication skills? A general definition would be that interpersonal skills are the skills required to effectively communicate both verbally and non-verbally. According to a recent article in Hubpages, Terersa Coppens groups interpersonal skills into four main categories:

Most interpersonal skills can be grouped under one of four main forms of communication: verbal, listening, written and non-verbal communication. Some skills such as recognition of stress and attitude are important to all forms of interpersonal communication. In order for communication to be effective, a person’s verbal and written communications must match the non-verbal cues either consciously or unconsciously given otherwise miscommunication is inevitable.

Listening skills (possibly the most important of all communication skills) and verbal skills include:

  • Relaxation – a calm self-confident manner allows for more coherent verbal expression and gives the impression of an active listener.
  • Positive attitude – all people prefer communicating with the happy, accepting person
  • Empathy – by seeing, understanding and respecting another’s point of view, a person gain’s respect and the trust of others as a speaker and is seen as an attentive listener
  • Understanding stress in yourself and others – allows for self-monitoring of your own verbal communication and a greater understanding of a speaker’s motivations; you realize when your tone of voice or word choice is affected by internal feelings of stress and as well understand when you are listening to someone who’s speech is affected by stress; it allows you to compensate accordingly
  • Assertiveness – this quality is essential and fundamental to negotiation in that the participants express beliefs in a way others can understand but also respect the thoughts and feelings of all involved
  • Teamwork – includes adaptability and flexibility in dealing with differing personalities and differing interpersonal skill levels

Written skills include:

  • Analysis – strong analytical and research skills are key in expressing new ideas and getting them accepted by co-workers and senior management
  • Computer and technical literacy – these skills are essential in the business world as most written communication and all analysis of data occurs on the computer
  • Professionalism – this quality is important in all forms of interpersonal communication including written communication; standard formats for business correspondence are common and spelling mistakes and grammatical errors are unacceptable eroding a workers value in the firm

Non-verbal Interpersonal skills include:

  • Gestures
  • Eye-contact
  • Body language

All of the above can reinforce the honesty, integrity and morality of personal interaction with co-workers and clients. In verbal exchanges, a person lacking eye-contact is seen as dishonest and/ or lacking confidence in their words. Reliability and responsibility are also conveyed by positive gestures and body language that match the tone and content of the speakers voice. Excessive hand gestures and invasion of another’s personal space is intimidating and detracts from the value of the conversation. Leaders and management personnel with poor non-verbal communication skills are not viewed as efficient, competent managers leading to poor office productivity and poor office moral.

It goes without saying that interpersonal communication skills are essential in any career or business as person-to-person interaction is required at any level and for virtually any job. Build key interpersonal skills by developing executive presence.