Many of us live in paranoia that we will say the wrong thing and become socially ostracized. In America this is a realistic fear. Others are quick to point the finger at us an make false accusations simply because we said something that “could” be interpreted the wrong way even if there is no proof or likelihood that we meant what we said with negative intentions. India and Asian countries might be more forgiving in this respect depending on the context. Culture is a complicated topic, but let’s stick to the basics here. This article is not about culture, but about personality!
None of us come across the way we want to when interacting with others. We are simply not paying attention, or simply don’t see ourselves the way the other person does. Perhaps you use nice words but avoid eye contact. Or, perhaps you say things that could be interpreted as negative when you meant them as positive. Or perhaps you are too paranoid to say anything of substance. Americans tend to be super busy and keep conversations short to the point that you feel they don’t like you. In India, many people are so lackadaisical (yes, this means you) that they come across as not giving a damn. The Chinese are uptight and spastic in their interactions. Hey! I thought this was not going to be about culture!
I guess in this multi-cultural world, different cultures come across differently. Maybe I’m highlighting some critical cultural points in terms of how we come across.
In any case, in business, the main point is to come across as someone who is responsible, solid, caring, competent, and friendly — but, not too friendly — caring, but not mushy, solid, but not inflexible. I think you get the point. When you talk to clients, try to sense how they react to how you communicate. You’ll master the art of coming off the right way if you do this.
Another interesting point is to help the other person loosen up. I often start business calls off with jokes that worked well in the past. Remember, that jokes can backfire, so pick ones that have a proven track record.
“Hi, this is Frank from XYZ company. I’m calling to check your information on file and verify that you are a real person.”
Since there are so many fake people out there on the internet, most people laugh when I ask to verify that they are a real person. Adding little quirks to your interaction that you may never have thought of can often work wonders and soften situations that can be stressful under normal situations.