…and I will tell you something for nothing

I had a recent trip abroad to deliver a leadership training programme. I was sitting in the bar of the hotel having a quiet drink waiting for my co-trainer to join me and as usual found myself listening to a conversation on the table next to mine –be careful what you discuss in public areas, who knows who is listening in! It was another expat, like myself, talking to a couple of locals. The subject of the conversation was principally about himself, his company and how brilliant they are.

The two locals continued to smile and nod throughout the conversation which got louder and more animated the more local lager the expat consumed. From my position I could see the locals were giving each other that look –
you know the one, the one that says what a !@#~!? this bloke is. However, all the expat saw was a couple of gents enthralled by his discourse, obviously agreeing with all he said. This tacit agreement that was being demonstrated added to the confidence the lager was giving him. At the height of his speech a couple of interesting observations were made which started with the phrase, and I will tell you something for nothing. At the end of the evening the expat left full of himself and happy with the couple of converts he left behind in the bar. Whilst I didn’t understand the language the locals continued their conversation in, it was pretty obvious how they felt about the guy who just left the bar.

This started me thinking about how people communicate in general where the goal is to engage with team colleagues or customers. Some simple rules to consider;

  • When communicating, do you talk at or talk with people?
  • When trying to influence and/or engage with others it is better to make them the focus of the conversation
  • Nodding doesn’t always equate to agreement, check it out

…..and finally if someone tells you something for nothing, that is probably all it is worth.