Everybody knows that the average person’s favorite topic is themselves. As a result, many people have a tendency to talk a lot about themselves without letting the other person change the subject. This turns most people away. Ironically, it is also a great conversation strategy.
The strategy is a simple one: talk less and listen more. Give people the opportunity to talk about themselves by asking questions. Asking questions has several benefits.
For one, you learn more about that person. It can be rather entertaining to find out what makes people tick. Some people are highly passionate about certain things, and can talk forever about those things. There’s an old saying that nothing is more beautiful than a person talking about something they love. Just being a listening ear for someone to talk up a storm about their favorite movie, musician, book, etc. can cause them to like you.
For instance, I once asked a colleague what his life purpose is. He invested 10+ minutes into telling me about his dream to commercialize personal development. I don’t know how to put into words how passionate he was about it. Hell, I became embarrassed about my own slacking in personal development. That’s how awesome his explanation was.
Speaking of which, the talk less/listen more strategy can be educational. Not just in the sense of finding out about that particular person. Every single person, regardless of age or status, knows something that you don’t. They may teach you something or give you some great ideas based on something they said.
An example took place during a conversation with a female colleague. One of us asked the other a question that led to a discussion about the casual misandry in our society. To my shock, she agreed that it is ridiculous how there’s almost no empowerment for men, and it’s acceptable for women to hit men, etc. Considering how many
women girls — and even men — love the idea of females being put on a pedestal and men being disrespected and abused as “payback for centuries of oppression,” that revelation was an educational experience in itself. Then she gave me the idea to do something about it via an annual month-long social media campaign.
An unexpected feather in my cap for a certain life mission of mine stemmed from a question!
Asking questions can also reopen a conversation. Now that you know their opinions and beliefs, you can start a new conversation about that information. When you run out of things to say, you can ask what book they’re currently reading, or something to that effect. Who knows, you may even jump-start an awkward silence into a full-on fun conversation.
Anybody who knows me knows that I don’t talk much unless I have very good chemistry with someone. 2016 has been amazing for me in terms of meeting new people and chatting with familiar faces. I’ve had many fun conversations with strangers before I even had the chance to talk about interesting facts about myself. All because I focused on them.
Of course, it’s a bad idea to only ask questions like a creepy interrogation robot child. At least acknowledge their statements with phrases like “tell me more” and “are you serious?” It also helps to occasionally tell them about your similar experiences. Not to outdo them, just to show that they can relate to you.
Make a nice day!