Strategies For Taking Control Of Any Conversation
When it comes to taking control in a conversation there are many effective strategies you can use to gain the upper hand even if in the past you found yourself at the mercy of others in more powerful positions. This post will put you back in control by showing you how to access your own power to communicate with impact while still maintaining rapport.
Control ultimately begins in the mind. How you look at a situation can either empower you or detract from your sense of control over unfolding events. For many people conversations are random events where the other party sets the agenda and directs the flow of conversation. This does not need to be the case.
You can learn how to direct any conversation and how to take charge, stand up for yourself and make your voice heard. This goes far beyond assertiveness. This is about expressing your true personality and taking control when you choose to. And best of all you can do so in a way that makes people responsive to what you are saying.
Info Gathering Principles:
Always look for and align with commonalities
It is very important when talking to someone to listen carefully for clues that reveal what you both have in common. This information is essential for building deeper rapport. Later in the conversation you will use shared opinions and outlooks to bridge to topics or points you want to make.
How do you discover commonality? By listening carefully to what the other person says and even more importantly to how he stresses and emphasises points that matter to him. Look for shifts in voice tone that indicate enthusiasm, heightened interest or concern.
You can then ask questions at these key points to get a deeper understanding of how he feels about that topic, and, why it matters so much. The “why” is very revealing so make sure to explore further to discover key beliefs that dictate his world view.
Engage in active listening
In this the information gathering phase of taking control it is essential that you demonstrate exceptional listening skills. Listen to what is said, how it is said and watch the associated body language.
By being such a good listener you encourage the other person to open up and talk freely – this allows the conversation to flow and ensures open honest communication. If you fail to do this you have little chance of taking control of the conversation later because you will have neglected to identify the specific manner in which the other person likes to communicate. Further, by not getting deep rapport early on it becomes very difficult to achieve it later.
Observe talking style
Now, we turn our attention to how the other person speaks rather than to what he is saying. We need to know if he is a fast, moderate or slow talker. Does he speak up when he wants to emphasize a key point? Does he pause and use silence to build anticipation before making a point? We need to know. Why? Because later on we will speak in his style to “speak his language” to take control. If we do not it is unlikely he will even hear what we have to say let alone respond to it.
Other points to look out for:
- physical movements while talking
- facial expressions when speaking
- breathing rate and variations
- eye movement, intensity and degree of focus
Use of language
Some people like to use complex language to impress others. They will use technical jargon, insider terms and uncommon words to say what could be said with everyday language. When you encounter this pay special attention so you can use some of the same words to match their speaking style.
Make mental notes to use those words that you fully understand and ask for clarification for any words that you do not understand. It is important to match the language usage and sometimes to mismatch it to take back control of the dialogue.
However you need to pay special attention and recall key words and phrases later if you are going to use this tactic. Then, you will have a simple way to get the other person`s attention before taking over the direction of the discussion.
Identify sense of importance
One great pattern to spot is one I call displayed self-importance. When you meet someone for the first time listen and look for evidence of pride or even arrogance. This can come across in a watered down form as a kind of benevolent authoritative all knowingness. This is worth spotting and its even better if you can narrow down the range of knowledge or experience that this pride applies to. Let´s say the guy is proud of his business success, ask what is his most proud of and why. When you know that you have valuable information that you will reflect back later to win his attention and agreement.
On the other hand, there are many people who display humility even to the degree of feeling awkward about their accomplishments. These individuals may be wonderful people, tremendously interesting and very skilled in their profession but you`ll never know it unless you get to know them better.
These are humble people who value results and success but have no need to shout about it. How can you spot these people? They often are very precise when it comes to their area of expertise but quietly confident without saying much about what they have done. They have a quiet solid sense of self-acceptance that makes it fun to talk to them.
How can you identify what he is most proud of? It takes a little more digging around but you can still figure it out. Once you have a good rapport, ask directly what is he most proud of and why. You may get a superficial answer at first so be prepared to ask again, more gently, until he really answers.
We want to know what others are proud of and just as importantly – why. This information gathering will be very helpful later when we want to speak their language and take control!
I hope you will now practice the points we’ve just covered, if you do, you’ll discover how easy it is to create deep rapport with people as well as how to regain control in conversation.
If you enjoyed this post, you can find my more advanced strategies for conversation control along with conversation blueprints in my book How To Control Any Conversation at Amazon.com.