APEGS ANNUAL MEETING TRACK SESSIONS
The Art of Dialogue
Hand-written letters have been nearly extinct for at least a couple of decades. Dialing a friend on the telephone is almost as ancient a communication practice. Are we losing our grasp of the face-to-face conversation as well?
dvancements in technology, coupled with the introduction of social media channels, have made communicating rather simple, if not informal. Accessibility knows few limits.
But the old-fashioned means of networking – a handshake, greeting and brief introduction while looking a person in the eyes – is part of our everyday business world. Engaging in a productive conversation is imperative, according to Lisa Moretto.
“Like it or not, networking is a part of our North American culture. It’s a part of our professional experience. We have to learn how to do this,” Moretto explained during her presentation at the APEGS annual meeting and professional development conference hosted May 2-4 in Regina.
“It’s an idea of exchanging information, exchanging contact, exchanging ideas and opinions and professional knowledge. Think of how valuable that is to you, as a professional, and to us as individuals.”
Moretto is the president of RGI International. She teaches regularly for APEGS and Engineers and Geoscientists Manitoba. She also is a professor at the Rochester Institute for Technology where she teaches technical writing and business communication courses.
Networking occurs almost everywhere – at the grocery store, the local sports field or arena, at the office or conference room. Moretto says these are opportunities to learn valuable information on a variety of subjects. Also, it’s a time to share your knowledge.
As we age, our circle narrows. Networking is a chance to meet people who may share similar interests. Regardless the topic of conversation, it’s more than likely you’ll come away having learned something.
“When you are networking, you are practising your networking skills, practising your speaking and listening skills,” she says. “And every time you do this, you are representing yourself and/or your company. This is your opportunity to be confident and proud of what you do, what you know or who you work for.”
But Moretto stressed productive conversations are two-way streets.
What can you give to a conversation? What can you gain in a conversation?
No one gains from a conversation where one person dominates. Listening and not just waiting for your turn to talk is equally as important as sharing in a dialogue. Moretto says we listen with our ears, our eyes, our feet and our heart. We listen so we can comprehend. And part of listening is asking questions.
“When we get nervous, we tend to talk a lot. And we talk about things we know best. What do we know best? Ourselves. Try to not fall into that trap of talking about yourself all the time,” she says.
“And don’t go into a networking situation looking to just get something out of it like a job interview. Chances are you’re going to fail and you’ll never want to go back.”
Consider a three-stage approach to an effective conversation:
Basic chat topics – the weather, sports, where you’re from. Find common ground. Build a relationship and get the other person engaged and move beyond the basic chat.
This is where you offer opinions and perspectives on the topics. But take it a little deeper.
A more intimate level of talk. Share personal experiences. When wrapping up a conversation, Moretto offered one final nugget.
“If you network with someone, thank them for the conversation. This will help you look professional.”BACK TO TOP