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Westside Toastmasters is located in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, California

CHAPTER 17

The Eighth Signal: Verbal Reassurances

A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Before him, I may think aloud.

  -- RALPH WALDO EMERSON

Vocal reassurances are essential to charm. But if you combine them with verbal reassurances, you double their impact. Eye contact, flicks, body inclines, and head nods and tilts together make a great impression on people -- but once you add the power of vocal and verbal commentary, you become a totally charming conversationalist.

The first type of verbal reassurance consists of noncommittal words and phrases. They are defined as noncommittal because they don't necessarily mean that you agree with what is being said. Words and phrases such as "I see," "Really?" or "Well, is that so," reassure people that you are listening and keeping in step with them, but you remain neutral. Noncommittal words or phrases are used as polite reassurances in general or casual conversation. They fill the air during small talk at cocktail parties and other social events.

When you are prepared to commit yourself and want to agree or support what is being said, you then use words and phrases such as "Yes, without question," or "I agree, absolutely," or "You hit the nail right on the head," and the like. At this time you become an ally in the conversation -- you have taken sides. Before you offer such comments that convey agreement, always be sure this is what you want to do.

When processing a person's words, tone of voice also has impact. Have you ever said something to make someone else angry then declared your innocence by saying, "But I only said such and such." Usually the other person responds immediately by saying, "It's not what you said; it's your tone of voice."

Your Tools for Charming Others

Introduce vocal and verbal acknowledgments into your everyday conversations, especially when you're on the phone. Use vocal reassurances, or basic sounds, when you don't want to sound too involved or want to remain neutral on a subject. Include more verbals, those specific words of agreement, when you want to show you agree with and support the speaker.

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