lips illustrated with a zipper closing them. Used to illustrate the Language Lab's post about the gift of gab.

You probably know someone who is blessed with “the gift of gab.” Wherever that person goes he/she easily chats up others and puts them at ease. My daughter is one of these people!

She truly has the gift of gab. She never ceases to amaze me at how effortlessly she is able to engage in conversation, whomever she meets. On our recent vacation to California, whether it was the person at the car rental desk, the breakfast line up, or the swimming pool, within five minutes she would find out information that would take me a week to discover. (Or maybe not at all!)

Perhaps in business it isn’t vital to find out where someone bought her bathing suit, or what the best special is for breakfast. But the very same skills that my daughter demonstrated in those social situations, during our vacation, can likewise be applied to a business situation. For example, simply by asking the gentleman, sitting beside her at the swimming pool about his job, my daughter ended up finding out that the company, for which he worked, is a well known, U.S. restaurant chain, headed by a venture capitalist. She even learned how this gentleman was able to work his way up from the bottom to a senior role in the organization.

Having the gift of gab may originate, as the legend goes, from kissing the Blarney Stone, but you don’t have to go to Ireland to cultivate it! At its simplest, it comes down to curiosity about other people, the basis of any new human connection. To develop that essential curiosity and use it in a business context take a look at the following three key ideas. See if they could help you easily engage people in conversation in your business (and personal) life.

Three Ways to Improve Your Gift of Gab and Connect with Others

1) Forget the Gab: Believe it or not, some of the gift of gab has nothing to do with you talking. Instead it’s about you listening to the other person, the kind of listening that means you truly hear what he or she has to say. How many times have you had a conversation where you sensed the other person was just waiting for a turn to speak? Don’t be that person. Open yourself to truly learning about someone else.

2) Truth Wins Out: People respond to honesty, to a genuine attempt at conversation. There’s no point in acting honest and genuine just to gain someone’s confidence. You have to really put yourself on the line. It helps if you can share something about your own challenges or difficulties that connect with the other person’s life situation.

3) Use the Gab: Don’t be afraid to tell stories and anecdotes that reveal something about you and the qualities that make you a unique boss/client/employer/business person. It’s not about reciting an epic; it’s about sharing your experiences in a succinct manner. Make your anecdotes as short as a minute and a half if you want to hold someone’s attention.

Remember, even if you find the idea of starting conversations with strangers intimidating, what’s the worst thing that can happen? The person won’t respond, just like the Parisian cab driver, who grunted at my husband when he tried, in his best French, to chat with him. That’s pretty much as bad as it gets. As for my husband, he just shrugged his shoulders and moved on. And as you probably know, for every taciturn cabbie there are a hundred who will gladly tell you their life story — as long as you are willing to gab with them.

To find out more about effective business communication strategies, contact me at The Language Lab.

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