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Get to the point

 

Techniques > Conversation techniques > Opening the conversation > Get to the point

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

In some conversations, it is better to get quickly to the point rather than start with small-talk.

Situations where this may appropriate include:

  • In many business conversations.
  • When you have little time.
  • When the other person has little time.
  • When the other person has something that they particularly want to talk about.
  • When what you really want talk about will not take long.
  • When a quick question gets a quick answer and hence what you want.

All situations, however, are variable and this cannot be a definitive or complete list. When in doubt, add some brief niceties at the beginning and watch carefully to see whether the person looks impatient or interested in small-talk.

Example

A child interrupts it's mother just as the doorbell goes and whilst she is on the phone, asking permission to go out with friends. The mother quickly agrees.

A sales person, seeing a busy professional buyer, asks just enough business-focused questions to understand the buying context before getting to more serious sales talk.

Discussion

In many professional situations, it is not appropriate to spend much, if any, time on small-talk. For example if you are talking with a busy senior manager, asking them about their person lives beyond a basic courtesy may well be considered rude or lacking business focus (the same is true in many other situations.

Getting to the point straight away can also act as a kind of shock tactic, triggering a response which you are seeking, pushing the person into an unthinking answer.

A danger when getting to the point because you are in a hurry is that this may discomfort other person such that they do not engage with you and might even take revenge in some way. 

See also

Elaboration Likelihood Model, Surprise principle

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