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Travel Detective Blog: The Lost Art of Conversation

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How do you communicate? Texting, tweeting, posting, Instagraming? What happened to just talking? In his latest Travel Detective Blog®, Peter looks at the lost art of conversation. Here are five ways we can all benefit from taking some time out to talk to each other.

What gives me inspiration every day is that I know I will meet, encounter, or be confronted not by people, but by dozens of fascinating stories. Not everyone is a fascinating storyteller, but every single person has a fascinating story. And that leads to establishing common ground and great business decisions—and even better business deals.

I talk to people, I never go a day without learning something, or more than likely, many things from those conversations. There are limitless ways the art of conversation can benefit you, but here are five ways you can apply it now.

1. Throw Out the Script

Good customer service is not about preventing things from going wrong. It’s about recovering when things do go wrong. And they WILL go wrong. As a customer, know who to talk to. Never take a “no” from someone not empowered to give you a “yes” in the first place. As a customer service agent, a conversation will guide you to the best way to serve a client—Is there a service you need to provide? A way to make an experience memorable? Is there a way to address potential—or real and immediate— dissatisfaction? It all starts when you step away from the script and get to know what is really happening

2. Don’t Limit a Conversation to an Area of Expertise

When in a restaurant, I don’t limit my conversation with waiters to a discussion of what’s on the menu. I ask questions. I get to know who they are, where they’re from, what they want to do when they grow up. I can’t begin to tell you how many different and unexpected directions those conversations have taken me—and how many new and individually inspirational stories have developed because of them (here’s just one that ended up being this CBS This Morning report). Some of those waiters went on to work for me.

3. Stay Away from Blanket Statements

Not a day goes by without me being asked, in one form or another, about travel safety—is Turkey safe? Egypt? Mexico? It’s rare that I will ever caution travelers away from an entire country. Having a conversation teaches you how to understand and report on or communicate the full scope of an issue.

4. Order Off the Menu

Think you have to pay $35 for valet? Assume that all the window seats are booked on a flight? Guess again. The Internet rarely has the full story on the services you can score as a traveler. Pick up the phone and call the hotel, call the airline, call your travel agent. It’s all about human contact, NOT what’s listed as available choices on the Internet. You never know what services you can get for free if you just have a conversation and ask. Earlier this week, I reported on how to book the best coach seats without paying extra and once again it all came down to having a conversation.

5. Come to an Agreement

I’m one of those people who believes that if you want to see eye to eye, you’ve got to meet eye to eye. In pitches, negotiations and discussions—conversation speaks louder and takes you further than a PowerPoint document or case study ever will. If you ever see me use a PowerPoint presentation, then you know something is terribly wrong. You meet eye to eye. You speak eye to eye, and then, going full circle to my mother’s important lessons, you do what she always asked me to do—you write your thank-you letters.

Read More of Peter Greenberg’s original Travel Detective® blogs

By Peter Greenberg for his new LinkedIn Influencer column. Follow Peter on his LinkedIn Influencer page.