I wasn’t always good at conversations.
Three years after I graduated from college, I was working at IT giant IBM. My job was to build and manage relationships with the clients who bought software and services from us. Make sure they were happy.
In other words, my job was to have conversations with people. Conversations that connected, engaged, and persuaded. I quickly leaned this wasn’t easy. However, I found it absolutely thrilling. There was something inside of me that moved into “the zone” when I sat across the table from a client.
I began to study the art of conversation. I had good foundational knowledge from my education in Speech Communications/Journalism, but I was finding there was a nuance – an art – to crafting a sentence in a way that moved the relationship forward.
I was quickly promoted into the big(ger) leagues. As a mid-career sales rep at IBM, I felt a lot more pressure. I flailed for a while, losing sales, over-promising and under-delivering, and listening way too much to the voices inside my head.
One day, after a particularly rough rejection, I sat in my boss’s office and sobbed. Like, ugly cry sobbed. He sat there, completely calm, and handed me a tissue. After I collected myself, he started working with me to make me better, starting with just going back to the simple art of connection.
I practiced. I had hundreds of conversations. I became a student of each one of them, noting what moved things forward, what held things back.
After eleven years at IBM, I moved into an Executive role in Operations at Accenture, managing a team of 120 employees. I moved into conversation mastery.
- I’ve built lasting relationships at work.
- I’ve never interviewed for a job I haven’t subsequently been offered.
- Conversation skills apply to all types of communication. My full-time gig, as Director of Marketing & Communication for MiracleFeet, an amazing nonprofit treating kids with clubfoot – the birth defect I was born with – started with a blind introductory email.
- I love meetings (really, I do!).
Quite simply, I have built my career on effective conversations. I started coaching others how to do the same thing because I believe:
- Your relationship with your direct supervisor is the most important relationship you have at work. If it’s broken, nothing else works.
- Building a constructive relationship with your boss happens through conversation.
- There is an effective way and an ineffective way to communicate at work.
Ready to learn more? Start here.
Amanda has spent her career in various sales, marketing, and operations roles. As a former executive with Accenture, she has worked closely with several Fortune 500 clients, including State Farm Insurance and Microsoft. Amanda currently serves as Director of Marketing & Communications at MiracleFeet, an international nonprofit dedicated to increasing access to clubfoot treatment for children in low- and middle-income countries. She also maintains a private coaching practice where she works with clients to master the art of conversation. Amanda has a BA in Speech Communication from Messiah College and received her Executive MBA from Bradley University in 2011. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two sons, growing vegetables in her backyard, and cooking.