What do I mean? Well, say you're at a networking event and someone starts talking about a topic that usually isn't brought up in a professional setting - say its something political going on currently.
This can get awkward pretty quickly.
Or a situation that happened at work, an intense situation. Maybe they are just wanting feedback to know how to handle that type of situation in the future, or maybe they are just venting. Or our favorite… “the seller”. Yikes.
You’d think most people would know that networking isn’t about selling, it’s a great testing ground for your commercial, yeah but not your “schpiel”.
These are just a couple scenarios, but honestly overall thinking ahead about how a conversation might escalate and how a certain topic should be avoided, is a must in a professional setting.
Think about it, how would that person make you feel after leaving that conversation? Depending on your political views, maybe irritated - and you might avoid that person in the future just because of how you felt after the conversation. Or the sales person… I remember there was one specific professional years ago when she walked in the room- not kidding you everyone turned away and started talking more intensely. Why? They didn’t want her to join their conversation. No one likes to be sold to.
There are two topics specifically, one should stay away from when in a professional setting... religion and politics. I know, I know... you would think people would know, but given the times we are living in right now, politics seem to intertwine very easily with other topics.
So how do you handle it when you're in a conversation and an awkward topics comes up?
More than likely you are not the only one that feels awkward. If you don't speak up, someone else probably will. So that is one way you can handle it.
Another way is steering the conversation back to the previous topic. It might seem a bit obvious but others will probably sigh in relief, and you're letting the other person know maybe not a good idea to veer the conversation that way.
When I was new to networking I had a friend that was new as well. We came up with this idea if we were ever stuck in an awkward conversation (usually one on one with the opposite sex) we had a signal, lightly tugging on our earlobe, and we would use this to rescue each other. Granted we very rarely used it, but it was good to know someone had your back and was looking out for you.
Some conversations can get awkward really quick, and if you're shy, well... it can take a lot to excuse yourself.
So remember this when you are speaking to others that might not know you at all or very well... stay away from certain topics and always leave the conversation professionally and try to on a positive note.
They will always remember how you made them feel.
Have an idea ahead of time of what topics you want to talk about. Current events and what's new with you and your business/company. Know who you want to talk to and what industries you want to be introduced to. Go in with a game plan.
This way you won't unintentionally start conversations with the wrong topic or be a part of those that are ones that you should stay away from.
Remember, people will always remember how you make them feel, not necessarily what you say.
Yours In Success,