Holiday Conversations – Tips and Tricks From Bandalier

What does your holiday season look like? Are you settling in for an end of year grind, or getting ready to take a holiday break? Or maybe it’s a little bit of both?
Whether you need to lock down one last sale before the end of the year or just want to make dinner-table conversation with your distant cousins easier, we’ve got tips from our team to make your holiday conversations easier!

Talk Less

As new team members join Bandalier University, we encourage them to listen more than they speak. While it’s a great tip for professional conversations, it’s also useful for navigating holiday events. Most people love to talk – encourage them! We recommend a balance of 70% listening, 30% speaking. If you can thread in a few open-ended questions, all the better. It helps your conversation flow, and makes it easy to encourage the other person to open up.

Smile More

Smiling while you speak or listen can go a long way in keeping a conversation pleasant. In a study from the University of Portsmouth, researchers found that listeners could differentiate between types of smiles by sound alone. Coupled with studies that suggest smiling can boost your mood, a simple grin is an easy way to improve your day. While our outsourced sales teams use these tips to close more deals, you can use them to improve your conversations. Smile a bit while catching up with folks, and see how it changes the conversation!

Ask Questions

At Bandalier, we’re big proponents of asking better questions. As you talk to someone, practice active listening, and balance asking close and open-ended questions.

Close-ended questions elicit short responses:
“Did you see the game last night?”

Open-ended questions make it harder for people to respond in brief:
“What did you think of the game last night?”
“Ludicrous display! What were they thinking, that they could just walk it in?”

Open-ended questions can drive conversations, and encourage people to open up. While our outsourced customer service teams need to focus on keeping conversations moving, casual conversations have more space for close-ended questions. Sometimes a simple question is a great way to demonstrate that you’re actively listening to your conversational partner. It can also help clear up points of confusion if they’re really diving into a topic!

Do Your Research

This is especially helpful if you’re meeting with old friends, new friends, distant family members, or anyone else you haven’t spoken with in a while. If you’re friends on social media, see what they’ve been posting lately, and keep it in the back of your mind. Ask your closest family and friends what that person likes, and take five minutes before you meet to get a basic understanding of some of their favorite topics. If you’re nervous and trying to make a good impression, it might even be useful to write out a few questions ahead of time!

It’s all in the presentation, though – don’t dig too deep for information, and don’t read off of your note sheet. Keep things light and casual, as if you just happened to remember something as you spoke to them.

Stay Warm

While wearing layers is important for folks in the colder parts of the world, keeping conversations warm is important everywhere! Holiday get-togethers are well known for escalated conversations, and it’s important to interrupt those escalations where you can. One useful technique from Bandalier University is what we call the “ER3R”:

3rd party information
Return (to an earlier topic)

For sales teams, this technique can be used to address objections and center the conversation around the rep’s product. For customer service teams, it can be helpful to redirect the conversation when callers are frustrated.

Let’s say it’s late in the day during a holiday celebration. Everyone’s been having a good time, but they’re getting tired, and frustration is rising. One person starts sharing more negative opinions than the rest of the group is comfortable with. While a simple “Hey, knock it off, it’s a holiday!” is tempting, it’s less effective. Instead, try:

“Hey, it sounds like this is a really frustrating topic for you. I know a lot of other folks feel the same, I just saw a few articles online about it. I think we got on a bit of a tangent from talking about superhero movies earlier. What did you think of the latest one?”

In the second example, you stay engaged with the speaker and redirect their interest, rather than harshly cutting them off. In most cases, folks will follow along with that change and keep things light. If they return to their venting, it might be time to be more direct!

At the end of the day, holidays are meant to be enjoyed. Hopefully, these conversational tips make it easier to unwind at whatever parties you attend! For more tips and tricks, check out some of our past blog posts. If you’re interested in joining Bandalier and learning more techniques to guide conversations, consider joining our team! Our two-week paid training course will give you all the skills you need to build a career with Bandalier (and make most conversations a breeze).