Introduction It should go without saying that being good at your chosen career is an absolute must. However, where professional relationships are concerned the skill of one-upmanship is more important: along with whom you know of course. To be seen and heard to be in control, intelligent and charismatic, amongst others, is a skill in its self. Knowing what to say in company, for instance, can elevate your standing beyond your working ability and achievement. Prepare to Have Your Say We have all heard of the advertising campaign “no FT, no comment”. The fundamental message is clear: you need to acquire information to take part in the game. However, only reading the headlines can leave you exposed to more in-depth questioning. The answer, pick, say, one topic per month that you know will be discussed relatively soon. Read all you can about the subject, and drop the subject into conversations. You are almost guaranteed to be the expert in the group on this subject and any other that you prepare for. Use Quotes Quotes are the domain of the intelligent and can earn you respect quickly. “Ungexoshe mpalambili” You cannot chase two antelope at once – Zulu Proverb “Money is paper blood” – Bob Hope “When we come to that bridge, we’ll jump from it” – Anon Be Heard Do you find people lean towards you when you talk? THEN SPEAK UP! If someone has to change his or her posture to have a conversation with you it is almost certain that some of what you say will be missed. This means that the reply from the other person will not be complete: let this happen two or three times and both parties will avoid a similar situation in the future. Watch for the other persons initial movements and adjust your volume: some people actually step BACK when in discussion (loudness and spitting being the culprits – Yuk). Losing the Thread Nothing is more embarrassing than losing the thread of a conversation. I have suffered this at an interview and needless to say I did not get the job. Most of us know whether we are susceptible to this curse and a solution must be sought. The days of attending an interview without a note pad have long gone. You should have your CV and a pad with five boxes penciled in: * My strengths and weaknesses * My impact in this new job will be… * My prepared questions * My achievements (you get the idea) * My threads One word for everything will suffice. When we are about to lose the thread our brain informs us by sending us a message “I’m going to forget this”: this never fails to happen, so jot it down then, or be dammed! If you are in a conversation, without a note pad, the easiest way to remember two topics at once is to picture something simple: an egg (on-line bank), smile (yes, another bank). If you are talking about Sage financial software and someone briefly changes the subject, and then asks you a question about the new subject, think of a turkey to remind you of your previous thread – sage and onion… OK lets move on, quickly! Let Them Finish Interrupting someone while they talk means that you have stopped listening to them: if you ever did in the first place. Why should the interrupted person listen to you? You should listen and think at the same time. You can evaluate their opinion as they talk: your mind thinks quicker than you mouth can talk (yes, we all know someone who dispels this theory). Two people have different opinions: both talk, but do not listen. The end result is that you know no more about the subject, or the other persons view than when you started. Now, if you listened to all the other person had to say, together with your own knowledge, you will have improved your chances of persuading the other person to accept what you are saying: try it, it does works. Stand and Deliver It is far easier to deliver speech when standing: posture, breathing and freedom of movement (arms and legs) are the major benefits. At a recent wedding, the best man stood in front of the ‘top table’ with his back to the main group and the guests at his front. The squashing effect was noticeable and the presentation spoilt. Your environment is crucial to the successful delivery of your speech (it is also true of any meeting). Talking to the boss about your current project while both of you are at your desk is a safe environment and helps your delivery without you being aware of the benefit. However, explain the project in the bosses office and incompetence is written on your head with every bead of sweat. Always be aware of your surroundings and use it. “Your office or mine?”, “mine” you say. There are many areas to cover on this subject and many specialist books are out there to help your personal development. People around you will notice any change in your self-development and will subconsciously be attracted towards your leadership: sorry, one-upmanship.
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