The #1 Way To Build Relationships

Business break

Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something. Plato

My summer months were filled with delightful social situations, but The Phone Lady part of my brain doesn’t always understand the word “vacation”. It still observes and analyzes, feeding my seemingly endless curiosity about communication.

Which led me to investigate these two words:

1) Talk – its root is Germanic and means “a tale” or “to tell” and entered Middle English meaning “a tale or story”; and

2) Conversation – its root is Old French and Latin, and means “abide or keep company with”.

At every occasion (and also on the phone), you will experience both these forms of communication. The talker tells a story (or gives an opinion) and their audience will be either highly entertained, or politely listening. If the former, it’s possible that everyone will have an opportunity to speak and tell their own story. If the latter, once the story is finished there will be some polite murmuring and then a drifting away. Everyone leaves with at least one story,  but not necessarily a connection with the story teller or anyone else in the audience.

Conversation, on the other hand, contains many voices. It is a weaving together of speaking and listening; there’s no main stage. While story telling is certainly part of conversation, it arises from questions, from curiosity, from a genuine interest in others and a desire to learn more about them. When we are in conversation we are “keeping company with” someone … and this is how we build relationships.

Conversation allows us to deliver excellent service to our customers, to learn more about our prospects and gain their trust, and helps us identify job opportunities and employers that inspire.

To create and enjoy conversation, you need to cultivate two skills: 1) active listening (I’ll share more on this next week); and 2) asking open-ended questions. Then you need to practice, practice, practice. Inspiring conversation is an ability that expands with use. Stay present and identify the opportunities. Then … make it happen. In this previous post I’ve shared my favorite, conversation-inspiring phrase: Perhaps it will work for you.

Or tell me … how do you inspire conversation?

Enjoy your phone work everyone.

Closing a sale is the natural outcome of inspiring great conversations and listening intently to our potential customers.

This natural approach still involves a process – a plan that moves potential customers through a journey of discovery with you. So ... what's your process? And am I the right sales coach for you? Let's find out.

Leave a comment

When you subscribe to my weekly blog, you'll immediately get my detailed ebook The Why and How of Following-up featuring my best advice plus examples of success you can duplicate.


What's The Phone Lady doing?


  • Remote learning experiences + one-on-one coaching for women entrepreneurs (More info about this three-year program here.)
  • Team and individual coaching with a national moving company to refine their sales process
  • Remote half-day training for provincial tourism representatives
  • Remote seven-part sales training program for US-based SaaS
  • Remote webinar on accounts receivable communication for industrial-services company
  • Remote webinar on validation to college students in entrepreneur program
  • In-person workshop on job search skills for women in the trades
  • Remote half-day webinar on written correspondence to customers

Do you or your team want to improve your communication skills? Do you have a communication question or challenge you'd like to discuss? This quick-to-fill-out form is easy to use and you'll hear from Mary Jane very soon.