I’m awkward.

I often trip over my own words. I’m constantly terrified that I’ll say the wrong thing. I usually run from difficult conversations as fast as I can.

I’m also very shy and a true introvert, through and through.

Which means, most of the time, I’d rather not be the one talking.

I’m the person you have to force to attend events and social gatherings (just ask my husband), the one who mysteriously disappears halfway through because I’m desperately in need of some quiet time.

Can you relate?

I mean, it feels like there’s so much external pressure to be “on,” always armed with a conversation starter and a way to smoothly fill in any awkward pauses.

And this is a problem for me because there are days when my brain just doesn’t want to chatter, socialize, and make small talk. On those days, jabbering away feels like a struggle, and I’d really prefer to just be alone.

But as a business owner—and a human—it’s not possible (nor healthy!) to live in the quiet of my home with my husband and my dog day in and day out. Getting into the world is essential and necessary, and that’s why when my mentor Martha Beck taught me these two words, everything changed forever.

“Say more”

That’s all, just two simple words that are so incredibly powerful.

The power in “say more” is in the way they effortlessly get the other person talking in pretty much any situation.

If I’ve learned anything in all my networking and communication fails, it’s that other people (especially extroverts) love talking and especially love talking about themselves.

Even better, when you ask people questions about themselves, they instantly feel really heard and validated.

As an introvert who avoids the spotlight at all costs, I love using “say more” because it takes the focus and pressure off me while also giving the other person an opportunity to shine. These magic words let our natural curiosity shine through and keep us from having to do too much thinking or talking on our feet.

Like most introverts, I like to take time to form my thoughts, so I can add meaning and depth to a conversation. But that’s not always easy to do when you’ve just met someone new and you’re chit chatting about the weather, last night’s “big game,” and other popular small talk topics.

But with these magic words, I can easily engage in a conversation and show interest in what the other person is saying without constantly coming up with new questions or creative ways to keep the conversation flowing. All I have to do is ask them to say more!

I quickly realized what a total game changer these two words are, and I learned to apply them to my coaching practice, to networking events… even to my personal relationships. @jennyshih (Click to Tweet!)

A game changer for networking

When I was building my career coaching business, I decided I would go to the largest Chamber of Commerce networking event in the State of Oregon every Friday. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to tell a ton of people about my new business… even if not a perfect fit for my introverted nature.

You bet it took a ton of courage to get there, and I definitely pulled the car over a few times to give myself pep talks. To say I was uncomfortable at these events is a huge understatement! I was surrounded by hundreds of people and completely out of my element.

All I wanted to do was go home, sit behind my computer, and play with my adorable dog. (She’s cool with me being me.)

I hated the idea of forced small talk, but I felt like, as a business owner, I needed to “make connections.” So I’d dutifully show up at the event every week, determined to make it a productive use of my time.

In the beginning, I was that person standing in the corner, a cup of lukewarm coffee in hand, and a terrified smile plastered on my face, hoping I wouldn’t have to talk to anyone.

It’s like I didn’t get the memo that that’s the whole point of networking events!

I’m not going to tell you I warmed up to the idea of talking to complete strangers—I didn’t! But when you’re growing a business, you have to do things that make you uncomfortable and push you outside your comfort zone.

So what changed? One day I remembered I had a secret weapon in my back pocket: Say more.

A powerful coaching tool

Knowing what an amazing impact these two words had in a networking setting, I had a feeling they’d be even more powerful when working with clients.

You know that feeling you get when there’s something the other person just isn’t saying? Like they haven’t gotten to the crux of the problem or really reached the root of their challenge?

Anyone who works one-on-one with individuals or has coached an employee, a client, or even helped a friend troubleshoot a problem knows it can be challenging to get to the heart of the real issue at hand.

“Say more” can help you get more clarity.

One of my clients was frustrated that she wasn’t gaining traction in her business. This is a pretty common complaint among new business owners. But “not getting traction” is also pretty broad and almost impossible to troubleshoot.

The first thing I did was ask her to tell me more about the problem. As she started to describe all the things she was doing, why she didn’t think they were working, and how this lack of progress made her feel, I asked her a few more times to say more.

Eventually, after 10 minutes of this back and forth, she said something that made us both stop. I asked her, “Did you hear what you just said?”

She had admitted she wasn’t doing as much as she could because… What if it actually worked? What if her business took off and became massively successful? She was afraid of her potential success, and simply by asking her to say more, she had a breakthrough aha moment.

Deep down, she knew all along that she was afraid of being successful and that was preventing her from taking any real action in her business, but she simply needed to talk it out to have that insight come to light.

If I hadn’t used “say more,” I might’ve given her all kinds of advice on taking massive action or how to more effectively act on marketing activities. I wouldn’t have uncovered that she really had a mindset block around success!

The magic of “say more” got my client to see the real problem all by herself. My job was so much easier, and all I had to do was say two simple words!

It’s okay to change it up

“Say more” might not always sound right in a given circumstance. Even though any Martha Beck certified life coach will tell you the importance of using these precise words, for me, the intention behind the words is what’s important.

If “say more” doesn’t fit the situation or doesn’t sound like you, use different words!

Tell me more.

That’s interesting—tell me more about that?

I didn’t realize that—can you say more about that?

All variations on “say more” that accomplish the exact same thing. As long as you’re participating in the conversation and getting the other person to do most of the talking!

No, I’m still not crazy good at networking. I’m still super awkward. But I can always fall back on these two words.

The next time you find yourself reluctantly attending a networking event or you’re not sure what question to ask your client to keep the information coming, remember these two words:

Say more.

Jenny Shih is an uncompromising business coach who has taught more than 25,000 women how to earn a full-time income working 30 hours per week or less as online, service-based entrepreneurs. For most of her time in business, Jenny was debilitatingly sick and at some points was only able to work a few hours each week. As the household breadwinner, Jenny found strategic ways to ensure her business remained highly profitable while also giving her the much-needed time to heal. Drawing on both her decade of experience in high tech and her training with Martha Beck and spiritual teacher Byron Katie, Jenny guides her clients through a no-fluff, step-by-step approach to creating thriving businesses they love without having to work long hours or make huge sacrifices. Connect with Jenny on her website and on Facebook, and be sure to grab her Ultimate Business Bundle to help you build a profitable business on your own terms.

Image courtesy of Tim Gouw.