Conversation Agent - Valeria Maltoni - Connection Kata: There are Two Versions (at Least) to Every Story

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One thing that is valuable when interacting with people: genuine sincerity.

- Are "you" really interested in me, or just getting to know me because it furthers your goals?

There are many tools out there that can help you appear sincere, without any actual effort on your part. You can seem interested in the person as a person, and, well, it ain't nice to be so manipulative.

There seems to be a feeling, especially in cities, that people are disposable. You don't have to make much effort to know anyone, because they can be ignored with startling ease. The point to this is "don't be friend unless you mean to be a friend". Be a client, a business contact, a casual acquaintance or 'someone I know', but don't confuse the difference between those and being a "friend".

When meeting people, be aware that your reputation invariably isn't what you think you it is, and it's always ahead of you. And don't be put out when the other person hasn't a clue who you are!

There's a substantial difference between knowing someone online and in-the-flesh. I'm struck by how often people seem to forget that! Once online, all pretenses at being polite get cast out the nearest window, and then they wonder why you're mad at them when next you meet. (If you need to know politeness, look up Emily Post and/or the thing Quentin Crisp wrote about it.

"Please", "Thank you" (or "thanks"), and "sorry" go a long way to lubricating the wheels of a relationship! Really listening does, too. That would be a bit more than listening for the keywords that perk your interest. Listening is an art that many ignore; try it and see who's actually listening to you: do they understand what you said, or are they simply making noises in response? (Not to be (too) gender-biased, but women tend to be much better at listening than men! :-) ) Listening is not only polite, it's a very useful skill.

Don't presume. We all do this, but some make an effort to not be idiotic about it, while others are simply oblivious. (For example, they assume that because they know "it", you do, too.) Sorry, that comment has little place in this response, but it sort of slipped out and I've decided to leave it in! (See: I don't presume! :-) )

Above all: don't take the other person for granted. Meaningful conversation isn't about boasting rights, or making sure that they remain your customer. Conversation is about relationships, and by making the other person feel valued as a person, they'll stay your customer. At the very least, you can hope they say nice things about you to others. But if you try to manipulate them: don't be surprised when your reputation takes a long nose dive. The relationship usually doesn't survive the foreshortened flight, either.

(If the conversation is about trying to keep them as a customer - you've got a few more problems than are going to be solved in a conversation! Think: credibility.)

One last thing: you're not going to get along with everybody. It's worthless even trying. Some people just rub you the wrong way, bore the socks off you and could be reasonably put to work curing insomnia. Or you just don't like them! Don't push it; it's not worth the effort. Sometimes a relationship starts out well, and goes downhill from there. Again, don't push it. We all have enough stress in our lives.

Don't view people as disposable, and you'll stand a better chance that they won't view you in that way. No guarantees, though! Conversations become meaningful when the participants are sincere.

Carolyn Ann

PS Apologies for the lecture; it sort of just happened! :-) <- Embarrassed smiley.

Great post Valeria.


I loved your post. I can't tell you how much I empathize with your experiences.

As a member of several professional associations, I can't tell you the number of times that people fail to do what they said they would do. The person who actually DOES follow through definitely stands out from the crowd.

I'm not sure where this "better than thou" attitude comes from. Some people may feel that rudeness is the best way towards fulfilling their goals.

What's worse is when someone says it's OK to contact them, hands you their business card, then totally ignores you when you follow up.

When someone fails to live up to their end of the bargain, it's not a conversation -it's an insult, and it makes them look like a phony. What people don't realize is that by keeping their promises and following up, they will stand out in the crowd and this will go a long way in developing and nurturing future business opportunities.

Business is all about people, but somehow the art of personal conversation is beginning to seem more like a lost art out there. It's a bit ironic that technology has picked up where the "corner store" philosophy seems to have ended.

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  • Since 2006, Conversation Agent focuses on business, technology, digital culture, and human behavior. At Conversation Agent LLC, I help organizations and brands that want to build better experiences tell a new story.


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