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Keys to Successful Conversations

By Marty Nemko

It's break time at a business meeting. You spot someone with whom you'd like to build a relationship. Standard advice is to get them to talk about themselves while you respond with "uh-huhs" and questions to keep them talking about themselves. That's a mistake--it makes you appear withholding. The best conversations are exchanges, not interrogations. Rule of thumb for effective conversations: talk about yourself enough to not appear withholding, then listen carefully, ask questions, and make comments based on what they're saying. You'll know you're in range if you're talking 25 percent to 50 percent of the time.

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