Mon | Sep 24, 2018

Don't fall into this trap!

Published:Sunday | October 19, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Corine La Font, Contributor

Have you ever had a conversation that didn't go the way you wanted or didn't have the outcome you played out in your head? Well, I had one of those the other day - a conversation with someone I was meeting for the first time.

These types of conversations can happen anytime - in the first, second, or even final conversations - but the trap really happens in the first-time conversations because you are at that point, most vulnerable and don't want to seem like you're holding back or hiding something. These conversations can happen at the job interview, in networking sessions, or even in negotiation meetings.

So you begin

And it goes something like this. The other person starts off making you feel like you are one of them, quite comfortable and at ease, and this becomes even more apparent if you share something in common. You are made to feel that you are part of something special because both of you share something, but don't be fooled. Never get yourself set up for this. Always be on your guard and see people for who they are not what you share.

So the conversation continues and you are now so comfortable that you feel inclined to open yourself up to even more questions that have now taken on a personal nature. You start to feel a bit uneasy inside. That is your gut telling you that something is wrong. Something does not feel good about this and you may hesitate, yet you don't want to seem like you're hiding something. Your head and your gut are at odds. You quickly start to think, 'What do I do?'

You quickly decide that you don't have to share this personal information, and the other person has clearly overstepped his or her bounds. Like I said before, this can be in any scenario - job interview, negotiation, or networking session. Follow your inner voice, which tells you to pause or stop, slow down, and take back control, and see what reaction you will receive from the other person. He or she may be shocked that you do not want to tell all.

Stand your ground and take control. You decide how you want this conversation to go. If your inner voice tells you that this is not something you want to follow through on and end right now, then do so. If it is one that you don't want to follow through but not burn your bridges, then end it nicely but know that you are not going to pursue it. It may mean the end of a job interview, end of a contract, or end of a prospective client. I have lost on all three counts because I stood firm on what I believed and followed my gut instinct based on the tone and flow of the conversation.

Don't fall into the trap that you are so desperate for the job, contract, or client that you will say what they want to hear or think they want to know with the hope that something positive will come from it. It never does, and if by chance, it works out, it never lasts.

So a few things to keep in mind when you're having any conversation, and this is especially true for us Caribbean people who tend to speak fast and think that everyone 'has our back':

  • Enter the conversation with caution but without pre-judgement.
  • You start the conversation and set the tone.
  • Speak slowly enough to allow yourself time to pause and think before responding.
  • Answer questions generally without giving away too much and quickly follow up with a question of your own.
  • While you use your mouth to speak, use your ears and other senses in their entirety to decide if the conversation and/or the other person is worth following up on and would make for a lasting loyal relationship.
  • Listen out for the clues that tell you that the conversation is all about them (the other person) as opposed to the focus being on how you can both help each other.

We take for granted the ease with which we speak on an everyday basis, but there is an art and science to conversation. While I am not an expert, I have had many conversations that I have replayed and wished in hindsight that I had done things differently, and so I have learned over the years.

There are those who have mastered the language of conversation, and they will definitely have an advantage over you, so it's time for you to start understanding and learning the game as well. It is said that God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason. Let's put it to good use, shall we?


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Corine La Font is a self-publishing, online marketing and virtual events specialist and consultant. She is also an award-winning publishing resource in the 2013 Small Business Book Awards. Get a copy of her book at and Tune in to her radio programme at She can be reached at