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ConversationallySpeaking:

WHATtoSay,WHENtoSayIt,and

HOWtoNeverRunOutofThingstoSay

ByPatrickKing

DatingandSocialSkillsCoach

Asashowofappreciationtomyreaders,I’veputtogethera

FREETRAININGVIDEO(justenteryouremailaddress)

describingtheBESTexerciseforimmediatesocialand

romanticconfidence.Clickovertowatchitnow!

TableofContents

CONVERSATIONALLYSPEAKING:WHATTOSAY,WHENTOSAYIT,ANDHOWTONEVERRUN

OUTOFTHINGSTOSAY

TABLEOFCONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

1.MASTERCONVERSATION;RELATIONSHIPS.

2.EVERYONELIKESAVERBALMIRROR.

3.ICEBREAKING,MELTINGGLACIERS,ANDSTARTINGACONVERSATION.

4.COMMONQUESTIONSANDUNCOMMON,BETTERANSWERS.

5.EFFECTIVELISTENINGINTHREESTEPS.

6.BUILDINGABULLETPROOFFIRSTIMPRESSION.

7.TELLSTORIESLIKEHOMERANDAESOPCOMBINED.

8.MAKINGSAFETOPICSINTOFAILSAFECONVERSATIONS.

9.AVOIDAWKWARDANDUNCOMFORTABLESILENCES.

10.BODILYSPEAKING.

11.SOCIALCUESSAYMORETHANYOURWORDS.

12.EXITINGCONVERSATIONSWITHGRACE.

13.CONVERSATIONKILLERS.

14.IT’SANINTROVERT’SPARTYTOO.

15.CONFRONTINGWITHOUTCONFRONTATION.

16.LISTENTOOPENTHEMUP.

17.DIGITALLYSPEAKING.

18.A21-DAYCONVERSATIONBOOTCAMPPLAN.

19.HUMOR101.

CONCLUSION

CHEATSHEET

Introduction

I’vebeenfortunatetohavebeenexposedtoawiderangeofpeoplethatIwould

considerrolemodels.

Ihavemanyofthetypicalonesthatotherentrepreneursandauthorsdo,buthere’san

unconventionalonethatmightthrowyouforacurve.

HenryKissinger.

First,somebackground.

HenryKissingerisprimarilyknownasanAmericandiplomatwhoservedunder

PresidentsRichardNixonandGeraldFord.HewenttoHarvard,andcurrentlyruns

KissingerAssociates,aconsultingfirmthatbrokersinternationalnegotiationsand

dealings.

SobesidestoanaspiringSenator,whyexactlyisherolemodel-worthy?

Well,hislistofaccomplishmentshasliterallychangedthecourseofhistory.Let’stake

alook.

IntroduceapolicycalleddétentebetweentheUnitedStatesandtheformerSoviet

UnionattheheightoftheColdWar,whichmanyhistoriansconsiderthebeginningof

theendoftheColdWarandmutualrisingnuclearthreat?Check.

InstitutetalksbetweentheUnitedStatesandcommunistChinawhicheventuallyled

totherecognitionandformalizationofrelationsbetweentwonations,ending23years

ofpoorrelations?Check.

Oh,andnegotiatetheParisPeaceAccordstoestablishpeaceandenddirectUnited

StatesmilitaryinvolvementinVietnam?Check.

Hisbodyofworkspeaksforitself,butit’sreallythemannerandmethodthrough

whichheaccomplishedthesefeatsthatmakeshimahugerolemodelforme.

Athismostbasiclevel,HenryKissingerwasamastercommunicator,negotiator,

andpeopleperson.Thisishowhewasabletobringquarrelingcountriestogetherno

lessthanthreeseparatetimesinhistory,andsaveliterallymillionsoflives.

Hewasabletotalkinwaysthatpeoplewouldlistenandseethebenefitofhiswords.

Heknewjusthowtoappealtopeople’sdifferingmotivationsandintentionstowork

outanunderstandingthatnevercouldhavedevelopedotherwise.Hebrokepolitical

standstillsandbridgedideologicalandphilosophicaldifferencesinwaysthatboth

sparedandendedgreatconflicts.Hedeeplyunderstoodhowtobendpeople’s

positionstoembracerealityandcompromise.

Finally,hejustmadethingshappenthroughsheerskillandwill.

Canyouimaginehavingthatmuchsocialgracethatyoucanliterallybendthefateof

nationswithyourconversations?Meneither,butthatdoesn’tmeanit’snotaworthy

goaltostrivefor.

It’sclearwhatthepowerofsimpleconversationcando–ifitcanshapehistory,just

imaginehowmuchmoreenrichingitcanhelpourpersonallivesbe?

Conversationisthebedrockofanyrelationship,andit’sexactlyhowandwhyyou

havebondedwitheverypersoninyourclosestsocialcircles.Theremayhavebeen

somecircumstantialluckinvolvedfromtimetotime,butmyhopeisthatthroughthe

principlesinthisbook,youwillbeabletostrikeupaconversationwithanyoneatany

time,withnothingcircumstantialrequiredatall.

You’llunderstandhowandwhyaconversationplaysoutthewayitdoes,andseeit

forthescienceofpatternrecognitionthatitreallyis.

Icoverallphasesofatypicalconversationfromicebreakingtoleavingonahighnote,

andnearlyeverypartinbetween–notjustWHATtosay,WHENtosayit,andHOW

toneverrunoutofthingstosay…butWHYeverythingworksthewayitdoes.

You’lluncoveradeepunderstandingofsocialmechanicsthatwillmakeyou,

conversationallyspeaking,preparedforanything.

WemightnotbeabletoreunitetheKoreas,butwecandefinitelymakeadifferencein

howfulfilledweareonadailybasis.

1.Masterconversation;relationships.

Whatareyourgoalsinlife?Tooheavytostartwith?

Okay,sowhatareyourgoalsforthenextweek?Isitwork-related,hobby-related,or

justsocialinnature?

Whateveryouendupansweringisnottheimportantpart–theimportantpartisthe

realizationthatconversationandsmalltalkisgoingtobeintegraltoaccomplishingit.

Ourworldisnotruledbystrictrequirementsandobjectivity,despitewhatwemight

liketobelieve.Wedon’tliveinanythingremotelyresemblingameritocracy,andthe

relationshipsyouareabletocultivatearereallywhatpropelyouforwardinthislife.

Thus,there’salogicalthreadherethatIfeelobligatedtospellout.

Successrequiresasmanystrongrelationshipsasyoucancreate,and

relationshipsaremadestrongbyconversationthatdelvesdeepandallowstwo

peopletoactuallyconnect.

Atitsbest,itallowspeopletodropallpretense,becomevulnerable,andrelatetoeach

otherinwaystheyneverthoughtpossible.Thisengenderslove,friends,business,and

accomplishments.

Beyondthebenefitsthatbecomingastrongconversationalistwillgiveyou,it’sjusta

necessity.Youjustcan’tavoidsocialandinterpersonalinteractionunlessyoudecide

tobecomeashut-in…buteventhen,youhavetooccasionallyorderfoodoropenthe

doorforthedeliveryman.

Unsurprisingly,mostpeoplearenotnaturalsatconversationandsocialskillsin

general.Whenyouwalkawayfromaninteractionthinkingsomeonewasawkwardor

madeyouuncomfortable,that’stheexactindicator.We’reneverexplicitlytrainedin

thesethingsthewayweareingeometry,geography,andthecapitalsofeverystatein

thecountry.

Gee,Iwonderwhichoneisactuallymoreusefulintherealworld?

Peoplealsohavevariousinternalanxietiesandmentalblocksthatmightpreventthem

fromsuccessfullyengagingpeopleinconversationonaregularbasis.

Regardlessofthepaththatledyoutothispointofwantinghelpandimprovement,

restassuredandcomfortedthatitwillbeaneasierclimbthanyouthink.Like

anythingthatisnecessary,youmightinvolveabitofkickingandscreamingasyou

leaveyourcomfortzones,buttherearesomecompellingreasonstodoso.

First,conversationskillsopentrust.

Thefirstmeetingbetweentwopeoplecanbecautiousandtense.Ifyouhavenot

beenintroducedbyfriendsandvalidatedbythenetworkeffect,yousimplydon’t

knowsomeoneandwhetherornotyoucantrustthem.Ifthey’llbetrayyouorbenice

toyou.Ifyou’llgetalongorhateeachother.

Thefirstfewmomentsareaquickhazeofattemptingtocollectbasicinformation

withwhichtomakeaninformeddecisionabouttrust,openingup,whotobuild

relationshipswith,andwhotoignore.

Initialconversationisaneffectivewayofdetectingeachother'sinterestandmost

importantly,figuringoutwhetherwecouldbecomfortablewitheachother.Smalltalk

mayseemverysuperficialandratherinnocentbutintermsofinterpersonal

relationships,it'sactuallyaveryimportantfilteringmechanism.Itcangivepeople

theinformationtheyneedwhethertheyplantoletthispersonindeeperintotheirlives

orholdthematacertaindistance.

Smalltalkandconversationisreallykindofasociallyacceptedgatewayforyoutolet

otherpeopleknowwhatyou'reinterestedin,what'simportanttoyou,whatyour

personalityislike,andyourpersonaltwistorspinoncommonknowledgeorcurrent

events.

Withrustyornon-existentconversationskills,youruntheriskofbeingperceivedas

someonethatisuntrustworthy,notworthspendingtimewith,orjustawkward.

Second,conversationskillsmakepeoplefeelsafe.

Conversationcanbeasshallowasyouwant.Butdonecorrectly,itmakespeoplefeel

comfortableandsafewithyou,andultimatelytrustyou.

Initialsmalltalkandconversationistypicallyneutralinnature,andaboutharmless

topicsthatmostpeoplecanagreeon.Anythingelseandit’snotreallysmalltalk,it’s

justabrasiveandoff-puttinginnature.

Yetstill,thereistheopportunitytoprovidecontextandinformationaboutwhoyou

are,whatyourvaluesare,andhowyouconductyourselfsopeoplecanbecome

comfortableandtrustyou.Thissmalltalkisthegatewaytofriendships,opportunities,

andrelationships.

Whenpeoplefeelsafe,theyreciprocateandattempttodrawyouintotheirsphereof

personalspace.They’llsharewithyou,andwhenyouhavetwopeoplesharing

information,thatisthefoundationoftrustandintimacy.

Ourtruefriendsarewhowefeellikewillbethereforusthickandthin.Youdon’tget

tothatpositionjustbystandingnexttoeachothersilently,nomatterhowlongyou

havestood.Friendshipsandrelationshipsareaseriesofsharedmomentsand

connections,drivenbyconversation.

Ergo,upgradeyourconversationquotientandcapacity,andfindyourselfatthecusp

ofmanymoredeeprelationshipsandfriendships.

2.Everyonelikesaverbalmirror.

There’sasayingthatessentiallystatesthatthebestwaytoengagepeopleistolet

themtalkaboutthemselves.Givethemthespacetoexplaintheirmotivationsand

intents,andnoonecanresistthetemptationoftalkingabouttheirowncleverness.

Comingfromadatecoachingbackground,Icantellyouthatthesameadviceholds

truebecauseithasthesamegoal.Onadate,it’snotabadruleofthumbtodothe

minorityofthetalking,andallowyourdatetotalkaboutthemselvesandtheir

thoughts.

Weinnatelyknowthatthishastheeffectofdrivingaconversationbecausepeoplelike

totalkaboutthemselves.Italsogivestheappearanceofasmooth,flowing

conversationbecausebothpeoplearedrivingtheconversationalongandworking

togetherforasinglepurpose–totalkabouttheotherperson.Theendresultisthat

theotherpersonwilljustlikeyoumore,becausetheyhaveperceivedagreat

conversationtohavetakenplace.

So…doyoufindyourselfclammingupwhenyoumeetnewpeople?Nervousand

anxiouswithothers?

Thenbecomeaverbalmirror.Shinetheconversationbackontotheotherperson

andseeyourinteractionsblossom.

Mostpeoplehaveacertainamountofmentalblocksindealingwithpeoplethatthey

don’tknoworhavejustmet.

Buttheywilllovetoengageontopicsthattheyarecomfortableonorexpertson…

andwhoisn’tanexpertonthemselves?

Ifthereisanyonethingabouthumannatureyouneedtolearn,peoplelovetotalk

aboutthemselves.Theaveragepersonnavigatestheworldwiththemselvesasthe

center.Theyprocesstheinformationtheworldgivesthemfromtheirownpersonal

perspective.

Piggybackonthiscommontendencysothattheybasicallydoalltheworkwhen

you'retalkingtothem.Yourjobistoreadthesignalscarefullysothatyoucanchange

thedirectionoftheconversationsothattheycankeeptalking.Andthefunnything

aboutallofthisisthatthebetteryouareatlisteningtopeople,themoretheywould

thinkyouareagreatconversationalist.Prettyparadoxical,right?

Conversationstendtosufferasaresultofpeoplefeelingthattheyareinthespotlight.

Liketheyareperforming,andwaitingtobejudgedforwhattheysay.Thattheyarein

thecenteroftheroomandeveryone’seyesareonthemandmakingthemincredibly

self-conscious.Peopleclamupandthisistheexactphenomenonwhenyoujustcan’t

thinkofanythingtosaytosomeone.

Thetruthisyou'reagoodconversationalist.Youjustletthepressureofhavingto

performgetthebestofyou.Thisiswhenanxietyaboutperformingkicksinbecause

youhaveaveryhumanandcommonplacefear.Whatfearisthis?Thefearof

rejection.Nobodylikestoberejected.Nobodylikestobemadetolooklikeafool.

Buttherealityisthatyoualreadyhavethosegreatsocialskills.

Oneofthebestwaystotrainyourselftodothisistomastertheartofmakingthe

otherpersontalk.

Sowhenyoumeetanewpersonandstructureanddirecttheconversationbasedon

what'simportanttothem,youhaveyourselfaninstantconversation–thebestpartof

itisthatthere'snoheavyworkonyourpart.Thereisnoneedforyoutofeelthatyou

areperformingbecausetheconversationisallaboutthem,andtheyfeelthesameway

intalkingaboutsomethingsocomfortabletothemasthemselves.

It'sveryimportantthentofocusonwhatyourjobis.Asimplemindsetshiftcanhelp

youhere.

Yourjobduringconversationsisnottograbthespotlightandcomeupwith

somethingprofound,witty,intelligent,orfunny.You’renotintheconversationto

teachorpreach.

Dumbitdown!Instead,yourjobistoguidetheconversation.Throwyourselfin

therefromtimetotimetolurethepersondeeperintotheconversation.Theactual

content,theactualmeatoftheconversationcanbeprovidedbytheotherperson.

Thebetteryouareatguiding,thesaferyoufeelandthelessanxiousyougetabout

talkingtopeople.Eventually,asenseofmomentumkicksin,andyoucanprettymuch

talkwithanybodybecausetherealityisregardlessofwhethertheyliveontheother

sideoftheplanetorasmallcorneroftheUnitedStates,everybodyisthesame.

Everybodylovestotalkaboutthemselves.

Themorepracticeyouhaveofluringpeopleintalkingaboutacommontopic,tolure

theminandhavethembasicallytakeovertheconversationwithyouguidingthemat

certainstages,themoreconfidentandateaseyouwouldfeelaroundstrangersand

withanytopic.

Thiscanmeanthedifferencebetweenahigh-performingsalesperson,andsomebody

whocan'tsellanythingevenifhisorherlifedependedonit.Thiscanalsomeanthe

differencebetweenmeetingthepersonthatyou'redestinedtolivetherestofyourlife

withanddyingalone.Thestakesareprettyhigh.

Greatconversationsreallyareallaboutcallandresponse–peoplecannotresistthe

calloftalkingaboutthemselves.Firstfocusonthesetopicsandtransferthefeeling

andpracticeyougetfromthem.

Keyphrases:

1. Tellmemoreabout

2. Oh?Howdidthataffectyou?

3. Howdidyoucomeupwiththat?

4. [Repeatthelastfewwordsofwhattheyjustsaidandtrailoff…]

5. Whydidyouthinkofthat?

6. Whatwasthebestorworstpartofthat?

7. Whydoyouthinkthathappened?

3.Icebreaking,meltingglaciers,andstartingaconversation.

Whenfacedwitharoomfulofpeoplewedon’tknow,it’sathreateningsituationfor

almostallofus.Howdowepickonepersonout,engagethem,andbreaktheicewith

them?

It’saninherentlyuncomfortablesituationthatmakesusafishoutofwater.We

don’twanttodisruptpeoplethatmightbehavinganicetalkwithsomeoneelse,

becauseweknowthatwe’vebeenannoyedwhenrandompeoplehavebutted-in.We

don’twanttosaythewrongorawkwardthingthatwillstartaninteractionoffonthe

wrongfoot.

Mostofallwejustdon’twanttoberejected!However,aswithallthingsthathinge

aroundthefearofrejection,realizingthatjudgmentisfarlessprevalentthanyou

thinkcandowonders.Inotherwords,onceyoucangetoverthementalblocksof

gettingrejectedfromaconversation(which,honestly,doesn’thappenmuchatall),

you’llrealizethatit’sjustamatterofopeningyourmouthanddoingit.

Ofcourse,thereareoptimalwaystodoitsothatyoucanstartoffaninteractionas

easilyaspossible,andthat’swhatI’lltalkabouthere.Almostall(appropriate)

icebreakersarewelcome,butnotallicebreakersarecreatedequally.

Talkaboutwhatyouhaveincommonatthatmoment.

Evenifyou’resomewherethatyou’veneverbeenbeforewithagroupofstrangers,

thereareboundtobecommonalities.Forstarters,you’reallatthesamelocation,

aren’tyou?

Socialeventsalwayshavethemesandcommonalitiesthatyoucandrawonto

icebreakconversations.Ifit’snotabirthdaypartyorcollegereunion,whatistheone

reasonthatbroughtthisseeminglyrandomgroupofstrangerstogether?Isitakickball

party?

Itcanbeasbasicasanetworkoffriendsinvitingtheirfriendsandfriendsoffriendsto

hangoutatsomebody'shouse.Youcantalkaboutthefriendsyouhaveincommon.

Youcantalkaboutthefactthatyouareinthisinterestingnewhouse,andthatyougot

invitedacertainway.

What'simportantisforyoutoclearlyidentifywhatmostpeopleinthatparticular

socialspacehaveincommon.Searchdeepandyou’llfindit.Fromthere,youcan

branchintoactualconversationandlearnaboutwhatmakespeopledifferent.

Tosumitup,startwithabroadcommonality,thennarrowintotheopposite.

Focusintopeople’sspecifictraitsafterbreakingtheicewithasharedreality.

Keyphrases:

1. Howdoyouallknowthehost?

2. It’smyfirsttimeatthisbar…isitalwaysthisrowdy?

3. Checkoutthatwalldécor,it’ssofunny.

4. Soeveryonehereplayskickball?Whohasthemostpowerfulleg?

5. Host’shouseissonew,isn’tit?I’msojealous.

6. Wheredoyouthinktheygotthenameforthisbar?

7. Whydoyouthinkthatguyoverthereisn’twearingshoes?

Leadtheconversationtothemafterbreakingtheice.

Recallinthepreciouschapterthateveryonelikesaverbalmirror.Theremaybeno

greaterpleasurethantalkingaboutourselvesandexplainingindetailourmotivations

inourdailylives.

Alsorecallthatthisopenspeopleup,andmakesthemperceiveyouasafriendevenif

youjustmet.Ifyoucanprobepeopleaboutthemselvesandfindatopicrelatingto

themselves,youcanencouragethemtostrayontothattangent.

Onceyouidentifythat,keepdwellingonitsothattheycanbasicallytalkmoreand

moreaboutthatparticulartopic.Thegoalhereisasmoothtransitionfromyour

icebreakerintoaconversationwithactualsubstanceandconnection.

Aruleofthumbhereisthatyouwillprobablyberequiredtodo75%oftheleading

andtalkingatthebeginningofaninteraction.Youwillneedtofillthesilences

yourself.

Samplequestionchain:

1. Didyouseethatcowheadmountedonthewall?Thisplaceiscrazy!

2. I’veonlyseensomethinglikethatinTexasbefore,haveyoubeen?

3. Oh,wherewereyouborn?

4. NewYorkdefinitelydoesn’thavecowslikethat.Whydidyoumovehere?

5. I’veheardthattheagriculturejobmarketisstronghere,butIneverknew

exactlywhatthatmeant.Whatexactlydoyoudowithinit?

6. Soitsoundslikeajobthatprovidesanicelevelofwork-lifebalance.Isthat

whatyouwerelookingfor?

7. Great!Where’syournextvacation?IjustwenttoThailandandhighly

recommendit.

Fromageneralobservationofthedécor,toaskingaboutwheresomeoneoriginated

from,todeepermotivationsanddesiresinashortseriesofquestions.

Avoidcontroversy.

WhileIdon’tgenerallytellpeopletospoutgeneralitiesliketheweather,thereisa

timeandplaceforconveyingyouropinionandstandingoutabovethefold.

Icebreakerswithpeoplethatyoudonotknowarehardlytheplaceforthat.Your

opinionscanoftenbepolarizing,whichisnotanegativething.Butgiventhatyour

goalhereissimplytobeginaninteractionandmakethemcomfortablewith

talkingtoyou,beingtheslightestbitabrasivewon’thelpthatgoal.

Mosttopicscanbetalkedaboutfreely,butwhatmakesthemcontroversialishaving

toostrongofanopiniononthem,andimmediatelyconveyingthattoothers.

Keepingthegoalinmindofbeginninganinteraction–whathappenswhenyourun

acrosssomeonewhoseviewsdon’tlineupwithyours?Youwillbeseenasanenemy

oratleastunpleasantperson,asmostpeopleareunabletoseparateacivil

disagreementwithpersonalvendetta.

Itdoesn’treallymatterhowyouhandlethesituationofconflictingviews.Whenthis

happenswithsomeoneyoujustmeet,it’sinstincttowritethemoffbecauseyoudon’t

knowaboutthemotherthanthefactthatyoubuttheadsphilosophically.Ifyoufind

yourselfhere,theconversationmightnotbesalvageable.

Sostayawayfrompotentiallydangeroustopicslikereligion,politics,race,gender

politics,orotherdivisiveissues.Youcanbringthemup,butdon’tofferyouropinion

onthemuntilyougaugehowtheotherpersonreacts,ifatall.

Ifitappearsthatyoumightagreephilosophically,thenfeelfreetoofferyour

unfilteredopinion.Butthatwouldbetheexceptionratherthantherule.

Notedetailsandprovideyourown.

Youmightbedetectingathemethatconversationsrequiresomeeffortandthinking

onyourfeet.Youcan’tjustcoastinaconversationandexpectthatyourautopilot

responseswillproducetheconnectionsthatyouwant.

Takingnoteofdetailsthattheotherpersonprovidesyouwithisaninstanceofwhere

youcan’tcoast,andyoumustactivelybelisteningtotheotherperson.

Mentallycatalogsomeimportantdetailsoraspectsofastorythatappeartoexcite

yourconversationpartner,andreturntothoseintimesofdoubtorimpendingsilence.

Bydetails,Imeanliketheirhometown,occupation,hobbies,andotherpersonal

informationtheyhavedivulgedtoyou–thingsthattheycanrelatetoorthatmade

theirfaceslightupwhentheywerebroughtup.

Thisway,youwillalwayshavesomethingtotalkaboutandinstantlyinjectenergy

backintotheconversation…aswellasavoidawkwardlullsandsilences.Youmay

notknowthatmuchaboutthem,butyoushouldbeabletodetectwhataperson

mightbeinterestedinandexcitedaboutwithinafewminutes.Maintaininterest

andfocusbyfocusingonthem.

Onyourside,youshouldreciprocatewithpersonaldetailsandstorieswhen

appropriate.Ifyouhaveapersonalstorythatrelatestoaperson’sinterestorcontext,

itwilldrawthemtoyouandmakethemviewyouasapersonwithmoreinherent

value.

Keyphrases:

1. Wait,you’refromPhiladelphia?Soyou’reabigsportsfan?

2. Didyoumentionearlierthatyouhadseenthismoviebefore?

3. ItoldyouthatI’malsofromPennsylvania,right?

4. Iforgot,didIimaginethatyousaidyouusedtoplaybasketball?

basketballincollege? 6. Ican’tbelievethatwearefromthesametinycountryintheCaribbeans!

Thesephrasesfillanylullorsilenceeasily.

4.Commonquestionsanduncommon,betteranswers.

Whatwasthelastwaythatyougreetedsomeonethatyoucameacross?

Wasitsomevariationof“Hey,”“Howareyou,”or“What’sup?”

Anddidyouactuallylistentoorcarewhattheresponsewasgoingtobe?

No?That’sbecausethesegreetingsandcommonbeginningstoconversationsareso

overusedthattheyarebasicallyinstinct.Theyfadeintonothinganddon’tleave

anyonewithanimpressionwhatsoever.Ifyouwantaone-linerconversation,well

that’sprettyeasytoaccomplish.

Obviously,thisisnotourgoalwiththisbook.

Lookatthecommonquestionsandgreetingsthatyou’llbeaskedassoftballs–by

whichImeantheyaregiftsgiventoyoubecausetheyaresoeasytoanswerin

uncommonandinterestingways.Startpreparingandansweringthesequestionswith

greatstoriesandphrases,andyouwillinstantlycaptivatewhoeveryouaretalking

to.

Thebestpartaboutthischapter’slessonisthatitissomethingthatyoucanprepare

forbeforehand.Somuchofconversationisstressfultousbecauseitdependsona

certainamountofskillandthinkingonyourfeet–thiscanbedauntingbecausewe

oftenimagineourselvesrunningoutofthingstosayandsimplystandingthere

dumbfounded.

Ifyoucantakesometimetoprepareanswersandstoriesforsituationsthatyouknow

willcomeupineachconversationyoutakepartin,youcaneliminatealargepartof

thefear!

AsItouchedonabove,themostcommonconversationstartersaresimplyvariations of“Howareyou,”or“What’sup.”Thereisnothingspecialaboutthesequestions,and

theyaresimplywaysthatpeople(1)acknowledgeyou,and(2)showaninterestin

yourlife.

Unfortunately,weroutinelyfailtotakeadvantageoftheopeningsthatwearegiven

onhowtoengagepeople.Someanswerscanleadtoengagingandentertaining

conversations,whilemostsimplycutconversationshort.

Youaredefinitelyfamiliarwiththelatter.Theydon’taskformoreinformation.They

respondandblockofftheotherperson.“I’mfine,thanks!”“Great.”“Good,you?”

“Great!Bye!”

Nothingaboutthatexchangeiscompellingorwillleadtoanykindofconnection.All

conversationkillersbasicallyrevolvearoundgivingabroadyetvagueanswer.

Easysolution–respondwithanswersthatleadtomorequestions.

Ifyouwanttoengagethepersoninadeeperconversation,youcannotgiveananswer

thatcutsthemoff.

Whenyougivethiskindofanswer,thisopensuptheconversationinmanydifferent

directions.Theconversationcantalkabouttravelstories.Itcantalkaboutany

discrepanciesbetweentravelbrochuresandactualtravelexperiences.

Responsesthatleadtomorequestionsaremoreeffectivewhentheystartwithastory.

Whensomebodyasksyouaverybroadandoftenbanalquestion,youcanchooseto

say,“I’mgreat,”andjustcutitoff,oryoucanthrowinapersonalstory.Whenyou

tellthemthatyoujustgotbackfromRomeorParis,itattractstheircuriosityandyou

canstartanexchangeoftravelstories,whichcanleadtomanydifferenttangents.

Youhavetostartwithyourstorybecauseitmakestheconversationmorepersonal.

Thisdrawsthemin.Whenthey’redrawnin,theystartthrowingintheirstory,and

thenyoucanusethattechniquethatI’vementionedearlierofputtingthespotlighton

themifyou’refeelingawkwardoranxious.Youonlyneedtoaskfollow-upquestions

todigdeeperintotheirstoryandbasicallytheconversationwilltakealifeofitsown.

Theartofgreatconversationsisnotamystery.It’saboutlookingatthecommon

humanityyouhavewiththepersonyou’retalkingwithandlettingthestorytakeover.

Everybodyhasastory,andhumannatureissetupinsuchawaythateverybodyisin

arushtotelltheirstory.

Aslongasyouknowthesefacts,youcanthenusethemtoyouradvantagetobecome

agreatconversationalist.

5.Effectivelisteninginthreesteps.

Accordingtoarecentstatistic,mostmarriagesintheUnitedStatesbreakdownnot

becauseofinfidelityormoneyissues,butfailuretocommunicate.Whilethismight

seemlikea“duh”moment,itstillunderscoresafewveryimportantconceptsabout

ourdailylives.

First,theabilitytoengagepeoplemeaningfullyinconversationandhaveitlead

somewhereoccasionally–asageneralblanketstatement,peoplearen’tgoodatit.

Evenwithinthesupposedlysafeconfinesofmarriage,peoplehaveissueswith

difficultconversationsandthethingsthatneedtobesaid.Iwouldassertthatalarge

partofthisaversiontomaritalconflictisbecauseofeitherpartner’sinabilitytolisten

effectively.

Second,peopledon’tlistenwell,andthere’smoretolisteningthanjustsitting

quietlyandwaitingforyourturntospeak.Communicationissuesarisewhenissues

aremiscommunicated…andwhenasafespaceisn’tcreatedtoallowgrievancesto

cometolight.

Third,peoplethinktheyarecommunicatingbutaren’treally.They’reso

uncomfortablewithallthatgenuineandopencommunicationentailsthattheyonly

diptheirtoesintotheprocess.Thismeansthathalf-messagesaresentallthetime,and

nothingiscompletelyunderstoodbecausepeoplejustwanttoendtheprocess.

That’swhybeingagoodlistenerisimportant.

Fortunately,therearethreeeasystepstosetyouonyourpathtobeingagreatlistener

andsubsequentlygreatconversationalist.Thisgoesbeyondthestrangersatthe

cocktailparty–itcanhelpsalvageyourrelationshipwithyoursignificantother.

Stepone:ACTUALLYfocusontheotherspeaker.

Whenyou’relistening,itmeansthatyourmouthiscompletelyshutandthereis

nothingcomingoutofyourmouth.

Moreimportantarethefollowingtwoaspects:(1)youarenotsimplywaitingforyour

turntospeakwithsomethingonthetipofyourtongue,and(2)youareactually

acknowledginganddigestingwhatisbeingtoldtoyou.

Manypeopleliketopridethemselvesasgoodlistenersbasedpurelyonthefactthat

theyletpeoplerantabouttheirlives.Theactofsittingsilentlydoesnotmakeagood

listener,itjustmeanstheyaregoodatnoddingandsaying“Uh-huh…”Attheendof

itall,theonlypersonwhofeelsgoodaboutthatinteractionisthepersonwhothinks

theyarelisteningwell,becausethespeakerwon’tbegettinganyvaluefromit.

Reallisteningisallaboutfocusingonthespeaker.Thisisveryhardformanypeople

toswallowbecausemostpeopleareegocentric.Unfortunately,ifthat'showyou

handleyourrelationships,you'renotgoingtogetfar.Ifthat'showyouconduct

yourselfatwork,youprobablyaren'tgoingtogetpromoted.

Youhavetolearnhowtofocusonthespeaker.Insteadofthinkingaboutyourtrials

andtribulationsandwhat'shappeninginyourlife,wrapyourmindinsteadaroundthe

lifeofsomebodyelse.Wrapyourmindaroundwhat'simportanttothemandfocus

closelyonthecollectionofideas,emotions,andrevelationscomingfromthespeaker.

Thismayseemeasy,butitisn't.Alotofpeoplethinkthatthey'regoodlistenerswhen,

inreality,they'refiltering.Sothepersonistalkingbutthey’reonlylisteningtothe

thingstheywanttolistento.They'reonlygettingthemessagethattheywanttoget.

Thisisnotreallistening.Reallisteningisarawfeed.

Steptwo:followup.

AsIsaidbefore,effectivelisteningisn’tjustsittingtherequietly.

It’sacknowledgingandtakingwordsin,synthesizingthem,andformulating

specificfeedbackandfollow-up.

WhatisNOTarealfollow-up?“Uhhuh,”“Oh,Isee,”and“OhmyGod!”

Arealfollow-upquestioniswhenyouputyourselfintheirshoesandtryto

understandthedetailstheyhavetodealwith.Ifyou'retalkingtosomebodythatjust

losthisjob,putyourselfinthatemotionalstate.

Howwouldyoubefeelingwhenyouhaveyourhomemortgageduethenextmonth,

andyoulostyourjob?Howwouldyoubefeelingwhenyourkidscomehome,and

theyseethattheirdaddydoesn'thaveajobanymore,right?

That'swhatyourquestionsshouldrevolvearound.Thecenterofgravitymustbeon

whatisimportanttothespeaker,andtheconversationshouldflowfromthere.Many

peoplethinkthattheyaregoodconversationalistsbecausetheybasicallythinkthey

alreadyhavetheanswer.Theseconversationstendtobeone-sidedandultimately,

useless.

Byfocusingonthespeakerandpracticingempathy,youcanthenteaseout

informationthatcouldactuallyhelpthembecausemostpeople'sproblemsaresolved

byanswersthatarealreadycontainedwithinthequestion.Youaskfollow-up

questions,youhavetoplaceitfromtheirperspectiveandwhatmatterstothem.

Agreatconversationisajourney,notthedestination.It'snotamadrushtowards

thisfixedanswerthatdoesn'tchange.Instead,it'sreallyjustabouttheprocessthe

personjustlettingtheiremotionsout,pickingthroughthedetails,andreallyhaving

anotherpersonbetheretosharetheexperience.

Stepthree:fighttheurgetotalkaboutyourself.

MylastbreakuptookamentaltollonmebecauseIhadinvestedsomuchintothe

relationship.Despitethatinvestment,Iknewithadtoendatsomepointandjust

couldn’tseeitculminatinginmarriage.

SoItookthenewstomybestfriendandreallyjustwantedtounleasheverythingthat

wasinmyheartandheadatthatpoint.

Whattranspiredwasincrediblyfrustrating.Iwouldtalkabouttheaspectsofthe

relationshipthatweren’tworkingforme,andmademereconsidermyentirelife

course.

Thenshestartedtalkingabouthowshedidthatwithherhusband,andthenhowher husband’sfamilywentonatriptoIsraelthatpastsummer.Andthenhowthattripwas horrible,andledtosomefamilydiscord. Shestolemydamnthunder.

NormallyI’mmorethanawillingear,butthiswasalowmomentformeandshe

failedtorecognizethatsheneededtokickherlisteningmodeintogear.Sheflipped

thefocusoftheconversationfrommetoherinafrustratingseriesofsidethoughts

andthinkingoutloud.

Yourjobistogivethemsafeemotionalspacewheretheycanexploreideas,be

honestwithfeelings,andotherwisecomeupwithasenseofclarity.Youflushall

thesedownthetoiletwhenyoutalkoverthemorswitchthefocusoftheconversation

toyourself.

Thisgoesbeyondstealingthethunder,andservestomaketheotherpersonfeel

marginalizedandunimportant.Reallisteningisaboutthespeakerandnotyou.

They’retheoneswhoknowtheanswersregardingtheirproblemsnotyou.Soit's

reallyimportanttofighttheurgetodominatetheconversation.

Listeningdoesn'ttakeanadvanceddegree,butittakesalotofheart,empathy,and

compassion.

6.Buildingabulletprooffirstimpression.

Whenmeetingsomeonenew,we’veallhadthatmomentof“No,thanks,”rightoffthe

bat,haven’twe?

Ihave,andIdon’tthinkI’mmorejudgmentalthantheaverageperson.

Thereasonthathappensisbecausethatpersonmadeanegativefirstimpression.

Youjustdidn’tliketheir“vibe”ortheirpresence–andthat’sexactlywhatthefirst

impressiongoverns.

Itdoesn’treallymatterwhoyouareorwhatyourgoals.Yousimplyneedtoknow

howtomakeabetterfirstimpression.Weonlygetoneshotatthisuntilthe

opportunityisgone.Oncethathappens,everythingelseyoudoorsaywillbeviewed

throughthelensofthatnegativeorlukewarmimpression,andit’sapitthatis

extremelydifficulttoclimboutof.

Thegoodnewsisthatit’snotasdifficultasyoumaythink.

Partofthereasonthatpeoplemakereallybadfirstimpressionsisthattheycomeinto

asocialsituationwithalotofanxietyorfear.Ifyougointoasocialsituationlooking

toimpresspeopleorproveapoint,ninetimesoutoften,you'lldroptheball.

Removethefearofjudgmentfromyourmindandseeyourfirstimpressionssoar.Of

course,that’seasiersaidthandone,sointheinterim,asetofbasicguidelinescan

coveryourbases.

Makeeyecontact.

Inwesternculture,eyecontactestablishestrustandcredibility.

Accordingly,thelackofeyecontactcanconveymanythings.Itcanmeanthatyou're

beingevasive,orhavesomethingtohide.Itcanalsoconveythatyouareweakperson

andbasicallylookingtobedominated.Thereareallsortsofmeaningsthatpeoplecan

readintoyourinabilitytomakeeyecontact.

Awarenessishalfthebattlehere,aseyecontactisnottypicallyadifficultstepfor

peopletointernalize.

Don’tstareintotheireyeslikeyouaretryingtoreadtheirsoul.Thatjustcreeps

peopleout.Thisrelatestomynextpoint.

Smilewithyoureyes.

Asmentionedabove,youhavetomakeeyecontact,butthereareobjectivelybetter

waystodoit.

Thebestandmostcomfortablewaytodoitistosmilewithyoureyes.Youreyesare

notjustdeadpoolsorblack,blue,brown,orgreen.

Inotherwords,youreyesarecommunicatingtothepersonyou'relookingatthat

personiswelcomed.It'scommunicatingtothatpersonthatyou'reopenforan

exchangeorconversation.

However,ifyoudoitwrong,andyoujustlookatsomebodystraightintheeye

withoutsmilingwithyoureyes,thiscanbeviewedasachallengeorathreat.Itcanbe

viewedasshowingdominance.Notagoodmoveifyou'retryingtomakeasaleor

meetsomebodynew.

Howdoyousmilewithyoureyes?Liftyoureyebrows(whichmakesyouappear

non-threateningandempathetic)andcrinkleyoureyesaroundtheedges.Incidentally,

theeasiestwaytocrinkleyoureyesthuslyistogenuinelysmile,sothat’satwofor

onetip.

Useanexpressivevoice.

Manypeopledon’tknowit,buttheydon’tconveyanythingclosetowhattheywantto

becausetheydon’thaveanexpressivevoice.

It’sthedifferencebetweenbeinggoodatsarcasm,andcomingofflikeanasshole

mostofthetime.

ManyforeignstudentsofEnglishembodythedifference,astheycansayphrases

andwordsfine,butwithoutproperexpressionandinflection.Themeaningfallsflat

andsometimesistakentheoppositeway.

Youwanttobeseeninapositivelightimmediatelyuponfirstimpression,soexpress

positivitythroughyourvoice.Done?

Nowusetentimestheamountofpositivitythatyouthinkyoujustused.Exaggerate

it,becausechancesarethatwhatseemslikealottoyouisn’tmuchinreality.

Don’ttakethechanceofbeingmisunderstoodormisconstruedinanegativelight.

Practiceyourexpressivevoicetoconveyexactlywhatyouwant.

Focusonyoursimilarities.

Thereisaninherenthumanbiastopeoplewhoaresimilartous.Weopenupbetterto

peoplewholooklikeus,soundlikeus,andspeakthesamelanguageasus.

Sowhenyoutalktosomebodynewandwanttomakeagreatfirstimpression,always

lookforsimilaritiesandfocusonthose.Instantly,youwillbeseeninapositivelight,

asthepersonwillseethemselvesinyou–andwhodoesn’tlikethemselves?

Focusingonyoursimilaritieswillmakepeoplelessapprehensiveandopen

themselvestoyouinafardeepermannerthantheywouldotherwise.It’slikeyouare

theirneighbor,andwhodoesn’twanttoendearthemselvestotheirneighbor?

Reflecttheemotionalcuesofthespeaker.

Wanttomakeagreatfirstimpression?Laughatsomeone’sjokesorcursethetraffic

justastheydo.

Isthisfakeorinsincere?No.

Here’swhy.

You’renotlyingorconveyingsomethingthatyoudon’tfeel,you’rejustincreasing

theamountofsociallubricantinasituation.Here’sanotherinterpretation:isn’tit

commonsensetoremainsomberwhensomeoneistellingasadstoryandexpress

angerwhensomeoneelsewantstorantaboutsomething?

Whenthispersongetstheimpressionthatyougetthemonanemotionallevel,they

arewillingtoletyouinfurtherintermsofemotionalintimacy.

Sendtherightbodylanguagesignals.

Awarenessishalfthebattleonthisone.Youdon’thavetosendbodylanguage

signalsofattractionoraffection,butyouDOhavetoavoidsendingoutnegativeor

closedoffsignals.

Guyswhoareunabletopickupwomenatsingles'barsusuallyfailbecauseofthis.

They'remouthsaresayingonething,theirfaceissayinganother,andtheirbodyis

sayinganother.Wholecommunication–yourwords,thewayyousayyourwords,the

toneofyourvoice,yourbodylanguage,andyourfacialexpressions–mustbe

consistent.Don'tsendthewrongbodylanguagesignalsbecauseitsabotagesthekind

ofintimacyandtrustthatyou'retryingtobuild.

Bewareofhowyoucrossyourarms,standorleanbacktoappearstandoffish,your

facialexpressionwhilelistening,howmuchyoucoveryourface,fidget,andwhich

directionyoupointyourtoesin.Theyallcontributetoaconsistentimageofhow

engagingapersonyouappeartobe.

Makingagreatfirstimpressionreallyinvolvesbothverbalandnon-verbalsignals.

Tosumitallup,youreallyneedtohaveahighlevelofconsistencysowhatever

signalsthatyouaresendingcanleadtohigherlevelsofintimacy,confidence,and

trustandarenotsabotagedbynon-verbalsignals.

7.TellstorieslikeHomerandAesopcombined.

Isthereanyonethatsticksoutinyourmemoryasagreatconversationalist?

Ninetimesoutoften,thereasonwhyyouweresoimpressedbythesepeopleis

becausetheytoldgreatstories.

Conversationisreallyasetofinterestingremarksandrelatedstories,soit’sno

wonderthatgreatstorytellingcanmakeyourconversationskillsskyrocket.It’sa

cornerstoneofhowweactuallycommunicatewithothers.

Focusonthecentralpointofthestory.

Ifyouwanttobeabetterstoryteller,figureoutthecentralpointofthestorybefore

youtellit.Whatisthecentralideayou'retryingtocommunicate?Theclearerthisis

toyou,thebetteryouwillcommunicatethatidea.

Alldetailsmustleadtothiscentralpointandbesomewhatrelated.Ifyouhavetoask

yourselfwhyyouarementioningthispersonordetail,thenitonlyservestodilute

yourstoryandmessage.Thinkofthecentralpointasthethesisofthestory–every

detailorpointmustrelatetoit,orprovidecontextforit.

Poorstorytellershaveonethingincommon:theytalkonandonandreallyneverget

tothepoint.Thesestoriesareannoyingbecausetheytakeyourattentionandwasteit

–youcanwasteminutesonsomebodythatbasicallydoesn'tknowhowtotellastory.

Thekeytoeffectivestorytellingisthatthedetailsofthestorythatyou'regoingtotell

mustleadtothecentralpoint.

Forexample,youaretellingastoryaboutperformingatanopenmiclastweek.

Focusonthedetailsofthesetting,theperformance,andtheleaduptoit.Talkabout

yourfeelings,andhowmuchyoulikeperforming.

Whatisn’trelatedtothecentralpointofthestory?Whereyougotyourguitar,how

muchyourmotherlikesyoursinging,andhowbadthecommutewastogetthere.

Stayfocused.

Thecentralpointmusthaveanemotionalpayload.

Humanbeingsareemotionalcreatures.We'dliketopretendthatwe'rerational,or

wemakeourdecisionsbasedonlogic.

Butninetimesoutoften,wemakeanimpulsiveoremotionaldecisionthenwelater

onjustifybycomingupwithsomesortofrationalexplanation.We'reallemotional

animalsandthere'snothingwrongwiththat.

Thismeansthatifyou'regoingtotellastory,youhavetomakesurethatthereisan

emotionalpayload.Whenpeoplegettotheendofyourstory,eitherthey'relaughing,

they'recrying,they'refeelingangry,oranyotheremotionalreaction.

Foraneffectivestory,therehastobeanemotionalreactionattheend.Eitherthey

feelupliftedandenlightened,ortheyfeeloutragedormovedtoaction,ortheirhearts

havebeenmovedtopity.

Otherwise,yourstorywillsimplyengenderareactionof“Sowhat?”or“…and?”or

“Isthatit?”

Youhavetoensurethatthecentralpointofyourstoryhasanemotionalpayloador

otherpeoplewouldnotfindyourstoryengagingorinteresting.

Paintapicture.

Anyonecantelladryandboringstory.

Allyouhavetodoisdescribewhathappensinsteps.Reduceyourstorydowntoa

seriesofactions,includingaconclusion,andwhatdoyouhave?Astorythatisas

goodasasetofinstructionstodolaundrywith–equallyasthrillingandemotionally

moving.

Greatstoriesarewhenthestorytellerletsyousmellwhatheorshesmellsinthestory.

Greatstoriesarewhenthecolorsareveryvividandvibrant.Greatstoriestake

placewhenthereisalotofsoundanddynamisminthedetailsoftheoverallnarrative.

Youcantellalousystorywhenthedetailsareflat,whenmanyofthedetailsare

rushedthrough,orotherwisemissing.It'sasifyouarethere.Thebetteryouarein

paintingaverypalpable,vivid,andreallyengagingstory,thehigherthelikelihood

thatthispersonwouldbeemotionallyengaged.

Greatstorytellersmakegreatfirstimpressionsinsocialsettingsbecausetheyaregreat

communicators.Theyareabletohelpustoconnectbetterwithouremotionsand

intellect.Greatstorytellersarefewandfarbetween,andthisiswhyyouneedtoreally

stepupyourgamesoyoucanmastertheartofconversation.

8.Makingsafetopicsintofailsafeconversations.

Ifyouwanttomastertheartofconversation,youhavetoknowhowtocomeupwith

conversationtopicsthatcanleadtogreatconversation.

Justkidding.

Thisisactuallyuntrueandadamagingmindset,becauseitwillmakeyoudependon

thatmagictopicthatdoesn’treallyexist.

Whatisthedefinitionofagreatconversation?Let'skeepitsimple.Agreat

conversationisaconversationthatallowsbothpeopleintheconversationtofeel

betterabouteachother.

Notalltopicsleadtogreatconversations.Sometopicsactuallyleadtodead-end

conversationsbecausethey'resoclose-endedandsimple.

Asthetitleofthischaptersays,itisperfectlypossibletotakesafetopicsandtwist

themtoyouradvantage.It’sallamatterofknowinghowtomovebeyondthe

materialprovidedandcreateaconnectionregardless.

Therefore,itisperfectlyharmlesstofocusonwhatmightbeotherwisecalledboring

smalltalktopics.Thebigbenefithereisthatyoucanbringthemupwithanyoneand

someonewillhavesomethingtosayaboutthem.Aslongasyoutakeapersonaland

emotion-basedangleoffsomethinguniversal,youcantwistitintoagreatopenerto

branchoutintoothertopicsthatcanleadtodeepercredibilityandtrust-building.

Weather.

Oneofthesafesttopicstotalkaboutistheweather.

Thereasonwhythisworkstimeandtimeagainisbecauseit'sasharedexperience.If

youliveinthepartoftheUnitedStateswhereitsnowsalot,everybodycanagreethat

it'ssnowing.Whatmakesthisaninterestingdiscussionpointisthateverybodyhasa

differentspinontheweatherandwhatitmeanstothem.Forexample,ifsomebody

wascaughtinasnowstormonhiswaytotheBahamas,that'sagreatgatewayfora

greatconversationaboutvacations.

Anotherwaythiscanleadtoconversationiswhensomebodytalksaboutthehumidity

intheirhouseleadingtomildewthatleadstohomerepair.Thiscanbeagreatwayto

transitionfromtalkingabouttheweathertodo-it-yourselfconstructionprojects

aroundthehouse.

Weatherisagreatstartingareaorstagingareawhereitcanbranchouttoother

personalareasthatyouhavesimilarexperienceswith,andyoucanshareinformation

on.

Theworstwaytodealwithaweathertopicistojustsaytotheperson,“Yes,Iagree.

It'sbadweather,”andleaveitatthat.

Weatherisagreatconversationtopicbecauseit'sopen-endedandleadstomany

places.Don'tdestroyitspowerbyrestrictingittoadescriptiveorobjectivediscussion

abouttheweatheronlyandleavingitatthat.

Currentevents.

Manycurrenteventstopicscanleadtointerestingsidediscussions.

However,youhavetobechoosyaboutwhichcurrenteventyoubringup,because

manyareinherentlycontroversialanddivisive.

Ifyoutalkaboutcurrenteventsthatfocusonthosecategories,insteadofafree

rangingconversationwherethepeopleengagedintheconversationfeelabouteach

otherandfeelliketheyknoweachotheralittlebitbetter,itmightdivide.Youmight

haveanargumentoradebateandthisispreciselywhatyoudon'twant.

Focusinsteadoncurrenteventslikelocalnewsoranykindofcurrenteventsthatis

harmlessandshapelessenoughthatitcanleadtootherpersonaltopics.

Commonpersonalexperiences.

Everybodytakesvacations.Everybodyhasgonetohighschool.Everybodyhasdone

certainthingsthatmostotherpeopleshare.

Focusonthesecommonpersonalexperiencesandbranchoutfromthere.

Byfocusingonwhatweallhaveincommon,youcanbranchouttheconversationto

moreintimatetopics.

Thekeytoharmless,safetopicsisnottostayonthem.Youusethemtostartout

conversations.Youusethesebanaltalkingpoints,andthenyoudrawthepersonin.

Youthengettheotherpersontotalkaboutsomethingmorepersonal.That'showyou

useharmlesssmalltopicstoleadtogreatconversations.

9.Avoidawkwardanduncomfortablesilences.

Oneofthemostpainfulsituationsknowntomanisthesinkingfeelingofan

awkwardsilenceduringconversation.

Youmayhavedoneallthatyoucantocarrytheconversationandengagetheother

person,butsometimesawkwardanduncomfortablesilencesstillpopup.Thiscan

givepeopletheimpressionthatyouareabadconversationalist,eveniftheyarethe

oneatfault,andevenprematurelyendconversationsaspeopleexcusethemselvesto

escapetheawkwardness.

Butthat’ssomeamateurstuff.WithalittlebitofpreparationandawarenessthatIwill

teachyou,youshouldbeabletoavoidthevastmajorityofawkwardsilenceswithin

conversations.Andsubsequently,yourconversationpartnerwillwalkawaythinking

thattheyhadanamazinginteractionwithyou.

Why?

It’stherealizationthatmostpeople’sconceptionofagreatconversationisnonstop

banter.Whenyouareabletominimizesilencesandlullsinaconversation,thisis

exactlythefeelingthatpeoplearelookingfor–andwhenyougiveittothem,they

willimpartandassumemanypositivefeelingstoyourinteraction.

Okay,sowhataresomestepstominimizesilences?

Learntolead.

Mostpeoplethatyouwillcomeacrosswillnotbegiftedconversationalists.They

dependonserendipitytomakegoodconversationwithnewpeople.Butthisisnot

you.

Youwilltaketheleadinaconversation.Justimaginehowaninterviewertakesthe

leadinaninterview.Theyareinapositionofpower,butmoreimportantly,theyact

likeit.Theyaskthequestions,movetheconversationalongtodifferenttopics,and

generallydictatetheexactdirectionoftheconversation.

Youcandothiswheneveryousenseasilencecoming.Taketheleadbypreparingand

takingnotesofquestionstoaskorbringupwheneverasilencecomes,andtakethat

opportunitytodirectaconversationwhereveryouwantit.

Assumetheresponsibilityoffillingeverysilencewithsomethingthatcameup

earlierintheconversation,oraclarifyingquestionaboutsomethingtheysaid.

Keyphrases:

1. Wait,whatdidyousayabout[polarbears]?

2. Didyoumentionearlierthat[youwenttotheUniversityofArkansas]?

3. Ican’tbelievethatyousaid[theUniversityofArkansashadapolarbearat

onepoint]!

4. Soanyway,[wherewereyouborn]?

5. Haveyouever[beentoPennsylvania]?

Digdeeper.

Whenyouengageapersoninaconversation,you'rebasicallysaying“Ifindyou

interesting.”

Atleast,intheory.Butthat’sthemindsetthatyoushouldbeapproachingpeoplewith.

Assuch,you’reinterestedinwhattheyhavetosay,andthedeepermotivationsthat

drivethem.

Soyouservethemaquestion,they’llhititbacktoyou…andthenyoushoulddig

deepertoseewhatisbehindtheiranswer.

Underlyingthisaspectofconversationsisthefactthatthebestconversations

shouldn’tbemechanicalorsurface.Youshouldn'tjustbegoingthroughthemotions.

Youshouldbesharinginformationthatactuallyleadstogreaterunderstandingand

emotionaldepth.

Thekeyistogetthatpersontofeeltheyknowyouonamoreintimatelevel.Thereis obviouslyatimeandplaceforthis,butbeingengrossedinthiskindofdiscoursewill

either(1)makethesilencesthoughtfulandmorecomfortable,or(2)killthem

altogether.

Keyphrases:

1.

Whatdidyoumeanby[insertphrasetheyspokeearlier]?

2. Whyexactlydoyouthinkthat?

3. Whydidyougothatroute?

4. Whatwasyourthinkingbehindthat?

5. Wasthatsomethingyoualwayswantedtodo?

6. Howdidyougettothatpoint?

Sumuptheirwords.

Peoplehateitwhenyouputwordsintheirmouth.

Whichiswhyyoushoulddoitfromtimetotime,especiallytoavoidsilencesand

lulls.

Ifyousumuptheirwordsandyouarecorrectinyoursummary,theywillagreewith

youandclarifyfurther.

Ifyousumuptheirwordsandareincorrectinyoursummary,theytypicallywon’t

takeoffense.They’lltaketheopportunitytoexplainindepthwhattheyactually

meant.

Thisisagreatwaytogettheotherpersontofillanypotentialsilence,bycompelling

themtoclarifysomethingaboutthemselves–thisisoftenirresistibleforpeople.

Keyphrases:

1. SowhatI’mhearingis…

2. Letmegetthisstraight…[repeatasentenceofwhattheysaid]?

3. Wait,areyoutellingmethat[Argentinaistiny]?

4. Whatdoyoumean[…]?

5. Didyoumean[…]?

Startingwithtakingtheleadinyourinteractions,thiscollectionoftipsshouldkeep

awkwardanduncomfortablesilencesatbay.Thekeyhereiseitheryoufillingthe

silenceyourself,ormakingtheotherpersonfeelcompelledtofillit.Eitherway,it

createsamoreflowingconversationthatmostpeopleassociatewithchemistryand

friendship.

10.Bodilyspeaking.

It’seasytoreduceconversationandallcommunicationtothewordsthatarecoming

outofourmouths.Butthatwouldbeinaccurateandignorantofwhatdrivesourevery

dayinteractions.

Emails–whydoweusesmileyfacesandemoticons?

Howcanweusesarcasmandmanytypesofhumorifyouweretodependentirely

onthewordsthatarecomingoutofourmouths?

Whydoweusegesturestoemphasizeandmaximizeouremotions?

Andofcourse,whataboutbodylanguageandhowmuchdoesthatcommunicateour

messages?

Givenalloftheabove,itshouldn’tbesurprisingthatonlyaminorityofouroverall

messageiscommunicatedthroughourwords.

Youmightbesayingsomethingwithyourmouth,butifyourbodylanguageisvery

differentfromthesignalsthatyou'resending,thiscanleadtoconfusion,mixed

signals,andmisunderstandings.

Humancommunicationisallaboutconsistency.Greatconversationalistsrealize

thisandmakesurethattheircumulativesignalssentareconsistentwithamessage

thattheywant.Thetoneoftheirvoice,thefacialexpressions,thewaytheystand,the

waytheircrosstheirarms,allthesesignalscombinetoamplifyandstrengthenthe

overallmessagethatthey'resharing.

Thismakesthemamuchmoreenjoyablepersontobearoundbecausetherearen’tany

lurkingfeelingsofdeceptionorconfusion.Whatyouseeiswhatyouget,andthat’sa

comfortingpresence.Mixedsignalsmakeusfeellikewe’reinthepresenceofa

passive-aggressiveroommatewhokeepstellingustowashthedishes,exceptthe

dishesaren’tyours.

Thischaptershouldbeviewedasaquickguideonhowto(1)makesurethatyou

aren’tsendingmixedsignals,and(2)interpretotherpeople’sbodylanguageto

ascertaintheirtruemeaning.

Herearequicksmalltalkbodylanguagetipsyoushouldkeepinmindtomaximize

yourcommunicationeffectiveness.

Crossedarms.

Whensomebodythatyou'retalkingtohastheirarmscrossed,itcansignalavarietyof

things.Themostcommoninterpretationisthattheyareprotectingthemselvesand

holdingtheirmostimportantparts–theirtorsoandorgans.Ifyoufollowalongthis

trainofthought,itmeansthatyouhavemadesomeoneatleastalittlebit

uncomfortable,defensive,andinsecure.Theyaren’topeningthemselvesuptoyouor

makingthemselvesvulnerable.

Itmaynotevenhaveanythingtodowithyou.Butyoucandoacoupleofthingsto

openthemupphysicallyandconversation-wise.

Whenyouactivelyaskthemwhattheirfeedbackisorwhattheirinsightsare,you

makethememotionallyinvestedintheexchange,andyouincreasethelikelihoodthat

theconversationwouldbemoreofatwo-waystreet.

Anotherwayyoucangetsomebodytouncrosstheirarmsiswhenyounodin

agreementandgivebigreactionsofagreementtotheirwords.You'resayingtothem

onasubconsciouslevelthatyou'renotanenemy.You'renottheretothreatenthemor

harmthem,andyou'reontheirside.

Finally,anotherwaythatyoucandealwithsomebodythathastheirarmscrossed

whenyou'retalkingtothemiswhenyouaskthemtotellastory.Whenyouaskthe

persontotellapersonalstory,you'rebasicallyaskingthemtotakethecenterstagein

theconversation.Thisworkswondersintermsofgettingthepersontofeelthatthey

havesomelevelofemotionalownershipovertheconversation.Theyareinvestedin

theconversationtoacertainextent.

Andofcourse,letthisbealessontoyouinbeingconsciousofhowmuchyou

subconsciouslycrossyourarmslestyoucomeoffunapproachableandharsh.

Leaninginandnodding.

Theseareseparatebodylanguagesignals,butoftenseentogether.

Leaninginmeansexactlywhatyouthinkitmightmean.Whatdoyoudowhenyou

can’thearsomethingthatyouwantto?Youleanin,andpayspecialandcareful

attentiontoitbecauseyoudon’twanttomissanyofit.

Sowhensomeoneleansintowardsyou,whethertheyarestandingorsitting,itcould

possiblyindicatethattheconversationisgoingwellandtheyvalueyourinputand

furthercomments.Theyareengagedintheconversation,andactuallyinterestedin

what’sbeingdiscussed,andyou.

Muchthesamecanbesaidofanoddingperson,wheretheyareliterallyand

figurativelyagreeingwithwhatyouhavesaid.Theyareengagedandinterested.

Thereforethelackofaleaninornod,orworseyetleaningbackawayfromyou,may

beconstruedasdisinterestandwantingtheleavetheconversation.Ifthisisthecase,

youmaybeabletolurethembacktoengagementbyaskingthemabouttheirown

personalstoryoropinion.

Thechallengeofdealingwithsomebodywho'slearninginandnoddingisnotso

muchtogetthatpersontotalk.

Theyareengagedforthetimebeing,soyoumusttakeadvantageofthatmomentary

interestbyaskingquestionsandbranchingouttheconversationtorelatedsubtopicsto

keeptheirattention.Makesurethatyourquestionsaremorepointedorthere'smore

varietyinyourquestionssothatthispersoncanbeengagedontheemotional,

intellectual,spirituallevels.

They’llprobablybeopentoansweringsomewhatmorepersonalandinvasive

questionsonaccountofhowinvestedandengagedtheyare!Takeadvantageofthis

openness.

Bodylanguageisobviouslyavastandexpansivesubjecttocoverinthischapterfully.

Infact,Ihaveanentirebookonthesubjectanditonlyoffersabroadoverviewwith

specificsignalstowatchoutfor.

Inthecontextofconversation,bodylanguagecanservetocompleteaconsistentset

ofsignalsthatwillultimatelymakeyouappearmorelikeableandengaged,orthe

opposite.Muchofthedamagingbodylanguagewedisplayisentirelysubconscious,

sotaketheawarenessthatthischapterprovidesyouandtrytoobservehowmuch

otherpeopleinyourdailylifedisplayitaswell!

11.Socialcuessaymorethanyourwords.

Imaginethatyou’vejustreceivedascreenplaywithagreatplot,fantasticcharacters,

andacompellingtwistattheend.

There’sjustoneproblem–thereisnonarrationtosetthestageorintroducethe

characterswhatsoever.

Youhavenoideawherescenesendandbegin,howthecharactersarepositioned,

whattheyfeel,orwhoanyoneevenis!

Thisiswhataninteractionislikewithoutsocialcues.

Socialcues(alsoknownashints,clues,signs,etc.)aresmallverbalandnon-verbal

hintsthatguidesocialinteractionimplicitly,andareusedbymostofusonan

unconsciouslevelonadailybasis.Theytelluswhatpeoplearereallysaying.

Itturnsoutthatweintuitsomuchofpeople’sintentions,motivations,andemotions

throughimplicitmeanssuchasfacialexpressions,bodylanguage,toneofvoice,and

evenhowclosepeoplestandtous.

Socialcues,attheirmostbasiclevel,acttoreducetheamountofambiguityinthe

communicationswereceivefromothers.It’swhywecansaysomethingandmean

completelytheopposite–socialcueswillindicateotherwiseandprovideusan

interpretationthatallowsforhumorandsarcasm.

Giventhatmostofushavehaddecadesofpracticeinreadingsocialcuesatthispoint,

ithasallowedustoformamentalmodelofpeople’sbehaviorsandintentionsthat

servesuswell.Thisiswhywecansaythingslike“I’vegotabadfeelingabouther,”

or“Ijustknewhewasthinkingthat!”

Youjustknowitbecauseyouknowwhatsignsindicateitandalsoindicatethe

opposite.It’sonlywhenwearefacedwiththeabsenceofthemdowerealizehow

importantofaroletheyplayinourlives.

Theabilitytorecognizesocialcuesandreactaccordinglyisalsopreciselywhatthe

peoplewedeem“sociallyawkward”lack.

Alargepartofsocialcueshingesonhowsociallyawareandobservantoneis.You

andIbothknowpeoplethatlackthosetraits.Sowhataresomecommonsocialcues

thatyoushouldbeawareof?

Nodding.

Nodding,asyoumightexpect,isasignofagreement.

Butyoumightnotexpectisthatit’sasignofpeoplemakingthemselvesagreeableto

you.Thedifferenceisthatwhiletheymightnotexplicitlyagreewiththewordsthat

youjustsaid,theywanttomakethemselvesnon-threateningandfriendlytoyou.In

eithercase,it’sasignofgoodvibes.

Thissocialcuegivesyouthefreedomtoaskdeeperquestionsandmovethe

conversationtomoreintimatetopics.

Theymentionit.

There’saruleinfilmmakingthatifyoushowanobjectbyitself,youmustreturntoit.

Thefirsttimeitisshownessentiallyforeshadowsthedirectionofthefilmandthe

importanceoftheobject.

It’sprettymuchthesamewaywithconversation.

Ifyourconversationpartnermentionsaspecificperson,event,orobject,it’slikely

thattheywouldliketoturntheconversationtothattopic.Youshouldn’tletthe

allusionslide,asitisprobablyinreferencetosomethingthattheyhaveastoryabout

–andweknowthatstoriesareagreatwayforpeopletoopenupandfeelcomfortable

withus.

Thissimplesocialcuerequiresyoutopaymoreattentiontowhatpeoplearethinking

inside,andhowindirectpeoplecanbeabouttheirdesires.Mostaren’tcomfortable

outrightinterruptingyouortellingyouthattheywanttotalkaboutthemselves,soit’s

uptoyoutopickuponthissocialcuetoallowthemtotalkaboutthemselves.

Thissocialcuemightalsosignalthatyouhavebeentalkingaboutyourselftoomuch,

andtheywantsomeofthespotlight.Inanycase,itwillteachyoutopaycloser

attentiontothemeaningbehindpeople’swords.

Keyphrases:

1. Ohyeah,thattotallyremindsmeofmytriptoMexicolastsummer.[atwhich pointyoushouldaskabouttheirtrip,andsoon]

2. IdidthatlastsummertooinJapan![askaboutjapanortheirsummer]

3. I’veneverbeenskydiving,butIdidbungeejumpafewtimes.[resisttalking

moreaboutskydivingandaskaboutbungeejumping]

4. IactuallymetTomCruiseoncetoo![askaboutthatfatefulday]

5. Yeah,Iactuallymadethatapplepie![askaboutthedamnpieandtheirbaking

prowess]

Similarly,theyaddanewdetailorhintatanewstory.

They’renotbringingthesespecificreferencesupjustfortheirown

entertainment.

Rememberthatpeopleseriouslyenjoytalkingaboutthemselves.Givethemthat

opportunityandtheywillenjoytheconversationthatmuchmoreandironicallyfeel

liketheygotmoreoutofit.

Withconversationalsocialcues,wearetryingtopickuponthesubtlehintsthatwill

makeourconversationsflowbetter.Ahallmarkofthisissimplybeingabletodeduce

whatpeoplewanttotalkabout.Ifyoucandothis,youcansimplymakeaninteraction

morepleasurablefortheotherparty.

One-wordanswers.

Someconversationsyoujustcan’tsalvage.

Ifyoufindthateveryquestionyouask,evenpiercing,intimate,andintelligent

questionsaremetwithsimpleone-wordanswersandnotmuchexcitementorvocal

inflection,readthewritingonthewall.

Thispersonisdonewithtalkingtoyou–don’tbethatpersonwhooverstaystheir

welcomeandpesterseveryone,requiringpeopletorescuethemfromyourpresence.

Ifsomeonedoesn’tturntofaceyouwhentheyansweryou,consideryour

conversationdoublyfinished.Theyareattemptingtoshowyouthattheyareengaged

withsomethingorsomeoneelse,andthatyoushouldstoptalkingtothem.

Ifyoudon’tknowpeoplewhoawkwardlyhangaroundconversationsfortoolong,

despitehavingnothingtocontribute…thenyoumaybethatperson.Peopledon’tlike

tooutrightrejectothersortellthemtogoaway,soyoumustlookforthesubtleways

peopledothis.

12.Exitingconversationswithgrace.

I’vestudiedalotofpsychologyinmylife,andaphenomenonthatsimultaneously

surprisesmeyetmakescompletecommonsenseistherecencyeffect.

Therecencyeffecttellsusthatthemostrecentofaninteraction,activity,event,or

personthatweareexposedtoiswhatwerememberthebest.

Thismakescommonsensebecauseifweviewthebrainandmemorybanksasa

stack,thenitiscompletelylogicalthatwecaneasieraccessitemsatthetopofthe

stack,andthingsnearthebottomofthestackgetcrushedorreplaced.

It’ssurprisinginasensebecauseitmeansthatsomuchofwhatwedoandsayis

simplyinvalidatedasaresultofthelimitedcapacityofourmemories.Evenifwesay

ordothemostcharmingofthings,itisnotguaranteedthatpeoplerememberit

becauseitisn’tthelastimpressionthatpeoplehaveofyou.

Let’sbringitbacktoconversationandhowtherecencyeffectshoulddictateyour

actions.

Youcanbeasconversationallyfluentandcharmingduringaconversation,butifyou

leaveitinthewrongway,itcanseriouslyskewpeople’sperceptionofyouina

negativeway.Ifyouhadagreatdateyetfumbledthekissbylaugh-spittingontheir

face–itmightnotbethebestimpressionleftofyou.

Moreover,ifyouleaveaconversationinanegativeway,itdoesn’tmakepeoplewant

tore-engageyouatalaterpoint.

Givethemopportunitytodeveloptheirstory.

Wheneveryouengagewithothers,there'salwaysanopportunitythereforpeopleto

tellstories.

Welookatourexperiencesasaseriesofstories.Sometimesweexperiencethingsjust

forthestoryitself.Pointbeing,weenjoysharingourstorieswithotherpeople,as

storiesareinnatelysocial.

Don’tbelieveme?Doyoueverpostanythingonsocialmedia?Thenyou’resharinga

story.

Sowhathappensifyoushareaparticularlypersonalorfunnystoryonsocialmedia,

andpeoplejustdon’tseemtogetit?Isthatanexperiencethatyou’refamiliarwith?

I’mbettingthatyourelishtheopportunitytosettheirmindsright.

It’stheexactsameinconversation.Ifpeoplegetonlypartwaythroughastorythat

theyaresharing,orifthereappeartobemisconceptionsaboutthestorythatthey

don’thavethechoicetoexplain,theyaregoingtowalkawayfromaninteractionvery

annoyed.Theemotionalpayloadorpunchlineissimplyruined.

Givethemanopportunitytofullydevelopandfinishtheirstory,andthenyoucan

bowoutofaconversation.Todosootherwiseistoshowmisunderstandingofwho

theyare,andtheywillassumethatyoumisunderstoodthem.

Theirstoriesmightbelackluster,butitdoesn'tmatter.Whatmattersisthatyou're

givingthemenoughopportunitiestofullydevelopthestorytheyhavetoshare.

Deliverthefeedbacktheyareseeking.

Conversationsonlyserveafewpurposes,whenyoureallybreakthemdown.

Weengageotherpeopleforentertainment,information,orpleasure–ifnot

presently,thenforthehopeofsuch.

Wedon’talwaysseekthesethingsconsciouslyorknowingly,buttherecomesa

distinctfeelingofemptinessanddissatisfactionifwewalkawayfromaninteraction

withoutfulfillingourpurpose.

Ifyou’veeverbeentoanetworkingevent,youmightknowthefeeling.Howdoyou

feelifyoutalktoonepersonthewholenightversuswhenyoutalkto15people

throughoutthenightandcollectalloftheirbusinesscards.Ifyoudotheformer,you

willprobablygohomefeelinglikeyoudidn’taccomplishyourgoals.

Sowhetheritisentertainment,information,orpleasure,trytohoneinonwhatyour

conversationpartnerisseekingandgiveittothem.

Howcanyoutellwhattheywant?Let’ssimplifythis.

Entertainment:Theywanttosharetheirlifeexperienceswithyou,orhearabout

yours.Listentotheirstoryandaskfollowupquestions.

Information:Theyareaskingyouaboutsomethingthatyouhavespecialknowledge

in.Givethemafewactionablestepsandresourcestolookuplater.

Pleasure:Theyareflirtingwithyou.Ofcourse,thisisn’tsomethingthatyoushould

feelobligatedtosatisfythemwith.

Awittysummation.

Oneofthemosteffectivewaystoendaconversationistouseajokeorsomesortof

wittycommentthatisopen-endedenoughthatitcanbethebasisofanotherfuture

conversation.

Ofcourse,thisrequiresabitofthinkingonyourfeettogetitright.

Herearesomeexamplesthatyoucanimaginesayingwhilewalkingaway:

1. Well,interestingconversationonthebathroomhabitsofants…I’llkeepin

themindthetipsyougaveme!

2. Ofcourse,Anna’sfriendswouldhaveaheateddiscussionaboutwhatkindof

marketingstrategyisbest.Ihavesomuchresearchtodo.

3. Wow,okay,Ineedtogolookupandverifythatfact…rightnow!

4. I’mgoingtogomentionthistomyfriendoverthere,Ithinkhewillgetakick

outofthis.

5. Okay,mymindisblownbythatfact.Ineedtodecompress…

6. Youguysaretoocrazyforme,I’mgoingtogoseewhatthosepeopleare

talkingabout.

Rememberthatthewayyouendyourconversationsreflectsofhowgooda

conversationalistyouare–evenifitdoesn’t.That’stheironyoftherecencyeffect.

13.Conversationkillers.

Doyouhaveatoughtimecarryingonaconversation?Doyouoftenfeelthatyour

conversationsoftenendsoonerthantheyshouldend?Doyouexperiencedifficulty

keepingaconversationgoing?

Youmightbecommittinganyoneofthefollowingconversationkillerswithouteven

knowingit.Yes,itmightbeyoucondemningyourconversationstoprematuredeath.

WhydoIpointthefingeratyou?

Becauseyou’retheonereadingthebookrightnow,activelygainingthepowerto

improveyourconversations!Mostpeoplewillneverthinkabouttheirconversations

insuchdepthasIpresenttoyou,soit’suptoyouasthebetterconversationalistto

leadandkeepconversationsinteresting.

You’reright.

Simplyagreeingwithsomeoneisnotsayingmuchatall.

Itsaysthatyouagreewiththeperson.However,thereisreallynomeattothe

statement.

Whenyoufindyourselfsaying“You’reright”alot,youdon’tgivetheotherperson

reasontokeeppressingaheadwithanotherstory,oranotherinsightoranother

observation.Youjustechothem,whichisn’tnecessarilymotivating.Eventhough

peopleliketobeagreedwith,itcanstopaconversationcoldifthereisnoadditional

insight.

Instead,say,“IagreewithyoubecauseXandY.”

Whenyoulayoutreasons,twothingshappen.First,youletthatpersonintohowyou

think.Yougivethatpersonasneakpeekintohowyourmindworks,howyourmind

handleslogicalprocesses.Thisisanopportunityforanintellectuallevelofintimacy.

Second,whenyouexplainthereasonswhyyouagreewithsomebody;youare

actuallygivingtheconversationanopportunitytobranchouttothoseareas.

Notsaying“You’rewrong.”

Again,peoplelikebeingagreedwith.Butifthat’sallthefeedbacktheygetfroma

conversationwithnofeedbackorinsight,theyquicklygetboredwithpraisealone.

Peoplearelesssensitivetojudgmentthatyouthink.Ifyoudisagreewithsomeone

(tactfullyandnicely)thenrarelywilltheylashoutatyou.Notethatthereisaworldof

differencebetweenrespectfullydisagreeingwithsomeoneandtellingthemthatthey

areflatoutwrong.

Whenyounotetosomeonethatyoudisagreewiththem,itspursacertainlevelof

respect,andfromit,debateanddiscourse.

Peoplewillalwaysrelishtheopportunitytoexplaintheirinnermotivationsand

thoughts,soifyoudisagreewiththem,yougivethemopportunitytoclarifyand

explain.Don’tbeayesman/woman.

Failuretoaskfollowupquestions.

Oneofthemostcommonconversationkillersiswhenyounodandafterapersonhas

saidtheirpieceandleaveitatthat.

Youhavetoaskfollow-upquestions.Ifyoutrulyagreed,therearecertainareasthat

trulyengagedyou.Youmightwanttofocusonthoseareasbyaskingquestions

regardingpointsofagreement.Thiscanincreasethelikelihoodoftheconversation

branchingoutintosubtopicsthatcanleadtomorestoriesandmoreshared

information.

Rememberthateveryoneisseekingoneofthreethingsfromaconversation–

entertainment,information,orpleasure.Ifsomeonehassaidtheirpiece,without

feedbackitisimpossibletofeelfulfilledinaninteraction.Followupquestionsallow

peopletofindtheirpurposesatisfied.

14.It’sanintrovert’spartytoo.

Introvertsgetanunfairrapinsociety.

Mostofthetimetheyarelumpedtogetherwiththesociallyawkwardoranti-social.

Weknowpeoplewhosevenndiagramdoesindeedintersectthere,buttheyarethe

exceptiontothegeneralrule.

Thetextbookdefinitionofanintrovertisonewhorechargestheirsocialbatteryfrom

spendingtimealoneorotherwisewiththemselves.

It’sprettysimple,actually.Ifyouspendadayoutwithyourfriendsatabarbecue,

whatdoyoufeelmoreinclinedtoyouwhenyoureturnhome?Crashandrelaxforthe

restofthenight,orregroupandjoineveryoneelseataclub?

Introvertswouldlikelyanswertheformer.

Sointrovertsdon’tinherentlyhavelessofanabilitytowardsconversationthan

extrovertsdo–theyjusthavealessercapacityforit.Unfortunately,lifedoesn’toften

carewhetheryouareanintrovertandhaveusedupyoursocialbatteryfortheday.It

willrequireyoutopushthrough,regardlessofyourleveloffatigue.

Herearesomeconversationskillsspecificallydesignedforintrovertswhomaybein

needofjustpushingthroughitoccasionally.

Justintroduceyourself.

Justdoit.

Goodconversationsareaseriesofsequences.However,yourobyourselfofthe

chancetostartanyofthosesequencesifyoucan’tjustbebotheredtointroduce

yourself.It’sthebeginningofanyconversationwithastranger,andoftenthebiggest

obstacletoovercome.

Iknowthatasanintrovertyoursocialbatterymighthavebeenexhaustedhoursago,

butthisisn’tabookthatisgoingtonotpushyou.

Partofsocialsuccessasanintrovertisseeingyoursocialbatteryextendedand

increased,soactivelymakingthechoicetolookaroundandthinkaboutwhoyoucan

introduceyourselfto–that’sgoingtopushyourboundariesandmakeyoumore

capableofseizingtheopportunitiesthatyoumightmissoutonotherwise.

Passivelyparticipate.

Soyoursocialbatteryhasrunoutandyoustillhavetoengageothers.There’sa

relativelyeasywaytodothis.

Justaskincrediblyopen-endedandpersonalquestionstopeople.IfIhaven’tmadeit

clearalready,peoplelovetalkingaboutthemselves.Theywilltakeanyopportunity

andopeningtodoso,especiallythosewhoareusuallymodestandhumbleabouttheir

accomplishments.

Soifyoujustactlikeamirrortothemandaskthemquestionslikethis,youcan

participateinaconversationinaverypassivemanner.Nod,smile,andask.

Promptthemtokeeptalkingbyaskingquestionslikeaninterrogation–thisisavery

loweffortwaytointeractwithpeople.

Thesweetironyisthatthisisalsoawayofinteractingthatmakespeoplethinkthat

youareinterestedinthem,andmayworkbetterinfosteringrelationshipsthanactive

conversations.

Thinkoutloud.

Partofthereasonthatintrovertsrechargetheirbatteriesaloneissothattheycanthink

theirthoughtsaloneandinpeaceandsilence.

We(yes,Iidentifyasanintrovertaswell)liketimetonothavetoanswerotherpeople

andjustreflectontheday.Whenwe’realone,wegodeeperintointrospectionthan

wewouldwithotherpeople,whereeverydaysituationswouldn’tallow.

Oh,andnothavingtodealwithothersisanicetoo.

Butassumingthatyoucan’tmuseonthesetopicswithotherpeoplewouldbea

fallacy.Youwillbesupremelysurprisedwhenyousimplythinkoutloudaboutwhat

youwouldusuallymuseonbyyourself.

Thisisgoingtotakeyourconversationstothenextlevelintermsofintrospection,

informationexchange,andpureinterest.

Thealternativeisstayinginconversationsthataresafe,shallow,andboring.Theleast

youcandowhenyoursocialbatteryisexhaustedistomakethingsinterestingfor

yourself,andthinkingoutloudontopicsthatyouwant.

Assumetheotherpersonisincrediblyinteresting.

Ifyoursocialbatterywasexhausted,wouldthatmatterifyourfavoriteactoror

musicianwasatthebarnextdoor?

I’mprettysurethatyourreactionwouldbetoattheveryleast‘suckitup’and

participateinwhatappearstobearareoronce-in-a-lifetimesituation.

Whatifyoucouldtrickyourselfintothinkingthatinanysituation,thereissomeone

whoisgoingtoprovidethatmuchexcitementorvalueforyou?

Actually,itshouldn’tbeatrickbecauseit’sjustthetruth.Everyoneisinteresting,and

everyoneisbetterthanyouatsomethingandcanteachyousomething.

Sohere’sthemindset:everyoneisinsanelyinterestingintheirownway.Everyoneis

unique.Thewaytheylookatandexperiencetheworldisoneofakind,anditwould

beashameifyoudenythisreality.

Letyourcuriosityandthirstforentertainmentovercomeyourexhaustedsocial

battery.

Ifyouexpectthatothershavenovaluetoprovideyou,you’rebothsabotaging

yourselfsocially…andcompletelywrong.

NoteveryoneisaNobellaureate,butthenagainneitherareyou.

Asanintrovert,Iunderstandintimatelyhowdifficultfacinglargesocialsituationscan

be.SometimesIcanfullyadmittomyselfthatIdon’tpreferlargecrowds,butdoesit

matterifthechoiceisremovedfrommyhand?It’suptometomakethebestofit,

andthetipsIhaveherearedesignedtoextendandgrowyoursocialbatterysothat

nomatterhowtiredyouare,yourconversationskillsarestillfarabovepar.

15.Confrontingwithoutconfrontation.

Noteveryconversationcanbeginandendwithrainbows.

Sometimesconversationsdevolveintoargumentsandlouddisagreementsdueto

circumstancesthatareoutofyourcontrol.Youcanavoidmostofthese.

Butthat’snotwhatthischapterisabout.Thischapterisaboutthedifficult

conversationsinourlivesthatwecan’tavoid–conflictswithpeopleorsituationsin

ourlivesthatarenecessaryandunavoidable.Welookattheworldindifferentways,

andwecan'tallpossiblyagreeonallthingsallthetime.Criticismanddisagreements

willcomeuptimeandtimeagain.

Confrontationisnotaconceptthatthemajorityofusarecomfortablewith,andasa

resultweusuallyavoiditforaslongaswecan.Butthatjustcausesresentmentand

passive-aggressivenesstofesterinsideuntilitexplodesinamessofangerand

emotion.

Weallinnatelyknowthatthebestwaytoaddressanissueisactuallyconfrontation,

butsinceweusuallyavoidit,wealsodon’tknowhowconfrontationworksbest.You

canengageinameasuredwaythatleadstoaneffectiveandefficientexchangeof

informationandview,oryoucansimplyverballybrawl.

Youhavetodecidewhetheryou'dratherengageinaproductiveconversationthat

leadstoaresolution,orattempttoproveyourpointinsolepursuitofbeingright.The

wayyouapproachconfrontationcaneithertriggeranemotionaloutpouring,ora

mutuallybeneficialexchangeofideas.

Likewitheverythingelseinlife,thereisanoptimalwayofproceedingthatwillmake

yourdifficultconversationsandconfrontationsleadsomewherepositive.

Createasandwich.

Mostconfrontationanddifficultconversationsbeginwithasimplecriticism.

However,peopledeliveritinharshwaysthatdon’tallowthecriticismtobereceived

inwithoutdefensivenessorothernegativeemotion.

Oneofthebestwaystodisarmpeopleandtheirinnatedefensemechanismsisto

createacriticismsandwich.

Justasasandwichhastwopiecesofbreadaroundapieceameat,soshouldyour

criticism–exceptthebreadshouldbepositivestatements,andthemeatyour

criticism.

Forexample,

Bread:Ireallylikehowyou’reshowinginitiativeandtakingactionwithyourdaily

tasks,Lisa.

Meat:However,Ithinkthatsometimesyoutendtoletthisstepoverotherpeople,and

youcanbealittlepushyaroundtheminyourinterestinpushingprojectsforward.

Bread:We’vedefinitelyseensomegrowthfromyourinitiative,though.It’sagood

traitthatisveryhardtofindinpeoplethesedays.

Youstartonapositivenotetomakepeoplefeelcomfortableandnotdefensiveright

offthebat.Insertyourcriticisminatactfulway,includingthepositiveaspectsofit.

Thenyouendonapositivenotesohopefullytheirrespondisfirsttothepositivenote,

andnotdirectlytothecriticism.

Ifyoudivestraightintothecriticism,youwillintimidateandthreatentheother

personimmediately,andsetthetonefortherestoftheconfrontation.

Focusontheconsequences.

Whenyouareconfrontingsomeone,youarerarelymakingajudgmentaboutthem.

Youaresimplynoticingsomethingthatyouwouldlikechangedandbringingitto

theirattentionsothattheymayfixit.

However,thedifferencehereisgoingtobelostonmostpeople.Thisisthereasonthat

peoplebecomedefensiveandlashbackatyouwhenconfrontedandcriticized.They

feelthatyouaremakingajudgmentonthemandattackingthempersonally,which

understandablyisquitedistressingtopeople.

That’swhyitissocriticaltomakeclearthatyouarenotcriticizingthem,hence

strikingthephrase“you’rewrong,”whichisdirectlyatthem.Thus,youalsoshould

notdirectlycriticizeanaction.

Instead,makeitclearthatyouareonlylamentingthenegativeconsequencesthatare

happeningtoyou.Itisnotanattackonthem,ratherjustpointingouthowyouare

beingnegativelyaffected.Morethanlikely,thiswillspuryourconversationpartnerto

turnonthemselvesandwanttoaltertheiractionstokeepyoufromfeelingthatway.

Ifthepersonyou'redealingwithisintellectuallyhonest,theycanworkfromthe

faultypremisestocomeupwithalogicalconclusionthatmeansthemadjustingtheir

actions.

Forexample,

“Ikeephavingtoparkpartiallyonthelawnasaresultofourparkingsituation,which

meansthatmypantsandshoesgetreallymuddyeverymorning.Woulditbepossible

toshiftyourparkingupafewyardseveryday?”

Insteadof,

“Hey,youneedtoparkbetter.”

Bysteppingthemthroughtheanalysis,theycanseehowtheymadethewrongturn

andendedupwithaconclusionthathurtsyou.Usetheirintellectualprocessesfor

themtocomeupwiththeirownanalysis.Inotherwords,theytakeownershipof

yourcritique.

Besolution-oriented.

Focusonactionablesolutionsinsteadofwhatyoudisagreewith.

Thereasonforthistenetistherealizationthatyousimplycannotchangemany

people’sminds.Diplomatically,thisputsmattersatastandstill,andmanypeople

oftencannotmovepastit.

Butwhatifyouweretojust‘agreetodisagree,’andfocusontreatingthesymptoms

thatmakepeoplefeelbadly?Maybetheinternalintentcan’torwon’tchange,butat

leastthepartiesinvolvedcanfindmorepeaceandresolutionifthereisacompromise.

Theclearansweristofocusonactionablesolutionsthatwillalleviatethe

problem.

Startwithwhatresolutioneachpartywantsfromtheconfrontationorcriticism.Figure

outprimaryandsecondarymotivationsbehindtheiractionsandwants–thiswayyou

canunderstandwhichsolutionswillactuallymakethemfeelbetter.

Fromthere,itispossibletocreatealistofpossiblesolutionsandresolutions,untilone

resonateswithbothpartiesasacceptable.Thisisnotaprocessthatwouldbepossible

ifyouhadfocusedonanimpassebetweenyoutwo.

Indeed,sometimesitisfarmoreproductivetonotevenaddresstheunderlyingissues

ifyoudonotthinkeitherpartywillactuallychange,andjustseektomakethem

happierthroughsolutions.

Countlessfriendshipshavebeendestroyedbyunhealthyandmisguidedconfrontation.

Partofsocialsuccessisdealingwithuncomfortablesituationsinsmoothandgraceful

ways.Indeeditcanmeanadifferencebetweenpreservingafriendshipanddestroying

one.Muchofthisbookhasfocusedonpositiveconversations,butequallypresentare

negativesituationswecannotturnawayfrom.

16.Listentoopenthemup.

Justbecauseyouareabletohearwhatsomebodyelseissayingdoesn'tnecessarily

meanyouarelisteningtothem.

Listeninginvolvesmorethanjustprocessingthesoundwavesthatenteryourear

canal.

Effectivelisteningshouldenableyoutoclearlyunderstandthemotivationsbehind

whatapersonissaying,andcontributeinwaysthatwillsolvetheirproblemsormake

themfeelbetteraboutthemselves.Atleast,thisistheidealgoal.

Hereareafewwaysthatyoucanimproveyourlisteningskillstonotonlyincrease

yourconversationskills,buttogetpeopletoopenuptoyouliketheywouldaclose

friend.

Compliment.

Makesureyoucommunicateyourappreciationforthefactthatthispersontookthe

time,effort,andbothertosharewhatheorshewouldliketoshare.Thisisvery

importantbecauseitsetsthelisteningprocessandinterpersonalcommunication

processoffontherightfoot.Whenyoufailtocomplimentthespeaker,you're

basicallysendingoutasignalthatthismightbeaconfrontationalortensesituation.

That'shardlyaningredientforeffectivelistening.

Createasafespace.

Oneofthebiggestreasonsthatpeoplearenotasforthcomingastheywouldbe

otherwiseisbecausetheydon’tfeelsafe.

It’snotafeelingofdangerlikeswimmingwithsharks,butrathertheydon’tfeelsafe

fromjudgment.Theyimaginethatpeoplemightthinktheyareabadpersonjustfor

speakingtheirmind,orforpersonalopinionstheyhold.

Andthat’svalid,becausemostofusdojudgepeoplefullyandcompletelybeforewe

evershould.

Sopartofeffectivelisteningwillhingeonyourabilitytocreateasafeandjudgment-

freespaceforpeopletoreallyspilltheirgutsandtellyouwhat’sontheirmind.

Thisisaprocessthatmostofusarenotusedto,sohereareafewguidelinesto

creatingaspacethatwillmakepeoplefeelcomfortableinopeningup.

1. Don’tshownegativeemotionswhenpeopleexpresstheirpersonalopinionsor

thoughts.Atworst,keepapokerface.Thisshowsthatyoudon’tdisapprove

ofthemortheirchoices.

2. Revealaspectsaboutyourselfthatmightbejudgedbyotherpeople.Ifyoudo

thisandmakeyourselfequallyvulnerable,itwillinspireotherstosharewith

you,assumingthatyoudonotjudgeaboutsuchthings.

3. Tellthemexplicitlythatyoudonotjudge,andrealizethatpeople’schoices

aretheirownanddon’tmakethemanybetterorworseofpeople.

Determinethemainmessage.

Thisisacrucialpartofeffectivelistening.

Whenpeopletalk,theyaren’talwaysveryorganizedorarticulateintheirthoughts.

Addthattoemotionaldistress,andpeoplearetypicallyallovertheplace.

However,peoplearetalkingtoyoubecausesomethingmatterstothem.There’sa

reasonthattheyaresharingthatparticularpieceofinformation–determinewhatthat

reasonandunderlyingmotivationis.Determinethemainmessageandyoucandig

deeperintosomethingthatmattersmoredeeplytothem.

Don’tinterrupt.

Anotherthingtokeepinmindwhenyou'redealingwithsomebodywhoexpressesa

bodylanguagethatcommunicateshighlevelofengagementistoavoidtalkingover

them.They’rerunningdownhill,andthat’satrainthatisdifficulttostop–andwhen

youdostopit,it’sbothannoyingandleavesasourfeeling.

Whenyou'retalkingoversomebody,itcanbeinterpretedasathreateninggesture.

Somakesurethattheyenoughtimetofullyexplainwhatthey'resayingandtofully

communicatewhattheyhavetosay,andthenyouaskfollow-upquestionsoryou

shareyourownstory.Avoidtalkingoverthembecauseyou'renotinadebate.You're

nottheretodominate.You'renottheretointimidatepeople.You'retheretoget

people'strustandconfidence.

Byfollowingthestepshere,youcangoalongwayinbeingperceivedasa

conscientioussincerelistener.

Listeningatitsrootisanexercisewhereyoubecomeclosertosomeonebyhearing

theirnarrativeandrelatingtoityourself.However,mostpeoplehaveroadblocksin

actuallysharingtheirnarrativethatyoumustfirstovercome,andthat’swhatIhope

youhavelearnedtoovercomeinthischapter.

Listeningbyitselfisaneasyact,butthepathtoeffectivenessismoredifficultthan

onewouldexpect.

17.Digitallyspeaking.

Ifwehaveenoughtroublecommunicatingourintentsfacetofacewhenwecansee

someone,justhowmuchofthatoverallmessagedoyouthinkislostwhenwe

communicatebydigitalmeans?

Okay,we’reinanagenowwheremostofourdailycommunicationwithfriendsisnot

byactuallyseeingthem.

It’se-mail,texting,instantmessaging,andanynumberofsocialmediaavenues.

Whilewecandebatebackandforththevalueofrelyingonthesekindsof

communication,andwhetherornotiterodesouroverallabilitytocommunicate

effectively…thefactofthematterremainsthatitisheretostay,andwillonlygrow

moreprevalent.

Whichmeansthatweshouldthinkaboutourconversationskillsandhowtomaximize

themwithindigitalmeans–whichformydefinitionandthepurposesofthischapter,

includesphone,e-mails,chatting,andtexting.Thedynamicsaresimplydifferent,and

youcannotconfusewhatworksononemediumwithwhatworksinanother.

Rememberthatmostofthemessagethatwecommunicateisn’tthroughthewordsthat

wesayorspeak,soyouneedtomakeyourmessageextraclearoverdigitalmeans.In

fact,thatleadsmetomyfirstpoint.

Ifindoubt,makeit100%crystalclear.

Withoutthebenefitofallthesignalsthatweusuallyutilizewithin-person

communication,partofourmessageisboundtogetlostintheshuffle.Worseyetis

whenyourmessageiscompletelymisunderstood,andgetstwistedintosomethingthat

youhavesaidnothingnear.

Thinkaboutit–we’vealldonethesametoothers.“Whatdidhemean‘I’llseeyou

later?’”Aretheybeingpassive-aggressive,tryingtobefunny,sarcastic,orjust

oblivious?

Whatasimplesmileorgesturemightconveyiscompletelylostoverchatore-mail.

Therefore,ifyouareeverindoubtofthemessageyouaresending,make100%

crystalclearoftheintenttotheotherperson.

Youshouldn’tfeelawkwardaboutthisatall,becausehere’sthealternative:yourbest

friendassumingthatyoudon’twanttohelpthemmove,wheninfactyouwere

makingalight-heartedjokeaboutgettingpaidinpizza.Soundfamiliarorrelatable?

Takingaquickasideandclarifyingyourmessageandintenttootherswillalwaysbe

lesspainfulandeasierthanyouthink–andofcourse,theupsideasavoidinghuge

misunderstandingsispriceless.

Keyphrases:

1. Wait,youknowIwasjustkidding,right?

2. Okay,thatwasaweirdjoke,butIactuallymeant[

3. Bytheway,Iwaskiddingaboutthat.

4. Boy,IneedtobemoreclearaboutwhatImean…

Smilewhenyou’reonthephone.

]…

There’sareasonthatbigbusinessmeetingsarealwaysinsistedtobeface-to-face.

Whenyoumeetsomeoneinperson,yougetthewordsoutoftheirmouths,theirfacial expressions,toneofvoice,andbodylanguage. Obviously,threeofthosearelostwith digitalcommunication.

Sowhilethingsmightlookgoodinwritingthroughdigitalmeans,theymightbe

sayingsomethingcompletelydifferentunknowingly.Lackingathreedimensional

viewofasimplestatementisdangerouslyincomplete,especiallywhenimportant

issuesareatplay.

Aconversationbyphoneisuniversallyrecognizedasthenextbestalternativetobeing

abletoseesomeonetocommunicate.Thebestwaytoavoidanykindof

miscommunication,especiallyifitisadifficultsubjectmatteroryourhumorskews

mean,istospeakwithasmileinyourvoice.

Thismeansthatwhenyou’reonthephonewithsomeone,toimaginethattheyare

rightthereinfrontofyouandactuallysmileandemote.Thisisgoingtodotwo

things.

First,whenmostofustalkonthephone,weemotelessbecausewedon’thave

anythingvisualtoreactto.Thismeansthatourvoicesalsoemoteless,andlessofthe

messagewewanttoconveyshinesthrough.Smilingwhileyouspeakonthephone

fixesthisproblemtoadegree.

Forpractice,starttakingyourphonecallswhileyouwatchyourselfinthemirror.

Noticethedifference.

Second,studieshaveshowntimeandtimeagainthatourmindscanliterallyfollow

whatourbodiesdo.Thismeansthatifyousmile,youcanliterallyimproveyour

overallmood.Thisisbeneficialforyourconversationandyourdayingeneral.

Exaggerateyouremotions.

Intheabsenceofcommunicationsignalsotherthanourwordsatfacevalue,welatch

ontootherthingsthatmightindicateemotionandtoneofvoice–whatpeopleare

thinking.

Wecanusethisknowledgewisely,andexaggeratetheemotionswewanttoconveyto

makesurethattheyareknown.Thisisthedifferencebetweenawrysmileanda

chuckle,andanaudiblelaughpunctuatedbya“That’shilarious!”

Ifthisfeelsfaketoyou,itshouldn’t.Infact,it’stheopposite–it’sincrediblyhonest.

Allyou’redoingismakingsurethatpeopleknowhowyouhonestlyfeel!

Howelsecanyouexaggerateyouremotions?Asidefrommoreloudlyanddirectly

reactingtowhatpeoplesay,youcanoutrightsayhowyouarefeelingabout

something–thattakesalltheguessworkoutofit.

Forexample,someonemakesyoumad.Inperson,youmightfrown,rollyoureyes,

andsighloudly.Howmightyouexpressthesameovertextore-mail?Thereareafew

ways,buteachcanbemisinterpretedinanumberofways–thebestwaymight

simplybetodirectlyexpressyouremotionbysaying“Thatwasalittleoffputtingthe

wayyousaidthat…”

Usingemoticons10%morethanyoucurrentlydocanalsohelpwithdirectexpression

andmakingsurethatnomessagesaremixedormissed.

Themainthemeofdigitallyspeakingistomakesurethatyouareconveyingwhat

youthinkyouare.Wehaveenoughtroublewhenwearestaringsomeonerightinthe

eye,sowemusttakeextracareandcautionwhencommunicatingoveranyother

medium.It’sworthnotingthatnothinginthischapterisadeparturefromother

conversationskillsthatIhaveimpartedtoyou–youshouldstillintegratethose,but

simplyensurethatyouarebeingcrystalclearaboutthem.

18.A21-dayconversationbootcampplan.

Justincaseyouwerewondering…internalizingtheseconversationandsocialskillsis

alifelongprocess.

Havingthetoolsandknowledgeisundoubtedlythefirstpartoftherequiredwork,but

it’slessthanhalfthebattleasopposedtoactuallyapplyingandpracticingthem.The

merepreamble,sotospeak.

Unfortunateyetisthefactthatifyouweretocompareyoursocialandconversation

skillswithotherpeople’s,theywillinevitablydevelopatdifferentratesasaresultof

ourlifeexperiencesandinnateabilities.

Yetthepointisthattheywillimprovegiventimeandpractice.Forsomemorethan

others,itjustmightrequireamoreregimentedandstructuredplan–howabouta21

dayconversationbootcampplan?

Day1:Identifyandunderstandyourmostcommonconversationproblems.

Idon'tcarelikehowsocialyouare.Everybodyhasaconversationproblemor

stickingpoint.

Maybeyouendconversationstooabruptly.Maybeyouhaveatoughtimestarting

conversationsinthefirstplace,oryoujusthaveatoughtimemaintaining

conversations.

Regardlessoftheproblem,there'salwaysasolutiontoit.However,you'renotgoing

toarriveatasolutionifyoufirstdon'tidentifytheproblemthatyou'regrapplingwith.

There'sareasonwhyyoukeeprunningintothesameroadblocksagainandagain.

It'sagoodideaforDay1ofthis21-dayplantositdown,andhonestlyfigureoutwhat

yourmostcommonconversationproblemsare.Thiswillalsobeusefulintermsof measuringyourimprovement.Takenoteoftheproblemsyouhave,andseehow

youfeelaboutthemonday21.

Days2to3:Notewhereconversationscanbesavedorextended.

Therearecommonreasonsthatconversationsendquicklyorprematurely.Whenyou

spenddays2to3observingandtakingnoteofyourinteractionswithotherpeople,

youwillbegintoseeverydistinctpatterns.

Nobodyisexpectingyoutobeperfect.However,youjustneedtoworkonclearly

identifyingthegoodandbadthingsthathappeninyourconversations,otherwisewhat

isthepurposeandhowcanyoulearn?

Attempttofocusonwhathappensrightbeforeyousaygoodbyetosomeoneandpart

ways,whathappensrightbeforeanawkwardsilence,andwhathappensrightafter

yougreetsomeone.

Thosearethethreeaspectsofaconversationthatcanbeworkedonandimproved,

becausetheyarethethreespotswhereconversationcaneasilybreakdownandwither

away.

Spotanybehavioralorconversationalpatternsyoucan,andstartworkingon

correctingthem.

Days4to7:Startingconversationssmoothly.

Nowthatyouhaveaclearideaastowhyyourconversationtendstoendupworking

outornorworkingoutacertainway;thenextstepistolearnhowtostart

conversationsmoothly.

Thegoodnewsisthatpeoplearelookingtotalk.Theyliketalkingaboutthemselves,

andtheyaremoreopentotalkingtopeoplethanyouwouldexpect.

We'reinaconstantsearchforanaudience.Youhavetomakethisfactworktoyour

advantage,andthegoodnewsisthatstartingconversationsmustfocusonshared

experiences.

Whatkindofcommonexperiencescanmostpeopleagreeon?Thiswilldependon

whatyoudoandwhoyouseeinyourdailylife.

Forexample,you’reanengineerworkinginabigcity.

Youmightexpectthefollowingtypesoftopicsforhim:work,programming,

commute,weather,lunchchoices,weekendplans,projects,cityevents,upcoming

vacationplans,siblings,family,pets…thelistgoeson.

Theseareallcommonexperiencesyouhavewiththepeoplearoundyou.Startinga

conversationisaseasyasaskinginanoff-handwayaboutanyofthosetopics.

“Didyouhearthatitwasgoingtobesupernicethisweekend?”

“Didn’tyourbrotherjustgetmarried?”

“Can’tbelievewehadtowork80hourslastweek,right?”

“SoIhearthatthefestivalthisweekendisgoingtohavealotofnakedpeople…”

Days8-9:Leavingsmoothly.

Justasittakesskilltostartaconversationsmoothly,italsotakesskilltoendoneona

goodnote.Theworstthingyoucandoistodroptheballandjusthaveitcutoff

abruptly.

Thewholepointinengaginginconversationsisreallytoknoweachotherbetterand

tofeelbetterabouteachother.Whenyouengageinconversationsinsuchawaythat

you'recuttingoffpeopleabruptly,thishardlyleadstoapositiveplace,especiallyif

theyhaven’tfulfilledoneofthemainpurposesofaconversation:entertainment,

information,orpleasure.

Solearntheskillsthatyouneedtoendconversationssmoothly.Usually,thisinvolves

openinguptheopportunityforfuturediscussions.Itcanalsoinvolvesettingupan

appointmentforafollow-upinthefuture.

Days10to14:Goingdeeper.

AsI'vementionedearlier,peopledon'treallyneedmuchencouragementtotalkabout

themselves.

Buttherearecertainlevelsthatpeopleareaccustomedtotalkingto,andmostofthese

levelsdon’treallybuildtherelationshipsthatyouwouldwant.

Forwhatwewanttoaccomplishwitheachconversation,weneedtogodeeperinto

topicsandultimatelyintopeople’slivesandthoughts.

Howdowedothis?Afewsimplestepsandmindsetstoembody.

Getpersonal.Peoplearerarelyasoffendedorviolatedasyouthinktheymightbe,so

thefirstlessonistoeradicatethemindsetthatyouwilloffendpeople.Ofcourse,this

issomethingthatshouldobviouslybewieldedwithcautionandcommonsense,but

being‘safe’inaconversationwillrarelyleadanywhererevelatory.

Askwhy.Ifyoukeepaskingwhy,itforcespeopletoexplaintheirthoughtsand

intentionsbehindtheiractions.Ifyoudigdeepenoughonthe“whys”youwill

eventuallybegintounderstandwhatdrivesapersonandwhytheyarewhotheyare.

It’sasimplestep,butpowerfulwhenusedcorrectlyandrepeatedly.

Finally,bebold.Thisisthefirstpointrestatedinsomewhatofadifferentlight.Ifyou

can’teasilyadoptthemindsetofaskingpersonalandmoreintimatequestionsof

people,thenyoumuststartwithattemptingtobeboldinyourconversationtopics.

Days15to18:Non-verbalfocus.

It’sbeensaidatleastafewtimesinthisbookthatmostofthecommunicationsignals

weendupactuallysendingaren’tfromthewordswespeak.

Therefore,itwouldmakeperfectsensetospendafewdaysfocusingonhowtoread

them,andsubsequentlyhowtodisplayit.

Here’syourtaskfordays15to18.Beamasterobserver–morethanyouwere

earlierinthe21dayperiod.Thistime,justgrabacupofcoffee,andsitinabusycafé.

You’regoingtochooseaspotwhereyoucaneasilyseepeoplegoinandoutand

interactwitheachother.Hopefully,youcanalsospotafewawkwardcoffeedates

alongtheway,whichwillbeperfectforourpurposes.

Thenyou’regoingtosimplysipyourcoffeeandwatchpeople.

Startsimple,andseeifyoucantellifaninteractionorconversationisgoingwellor

poorly.Whatlittlefacialexpressionsorgestureswouldmakeyoufeelthisway?Can

youarticulatewhy?

Fromthere,seeifyoucanstarttodeducetheactualmoodsofthepeopleinvolved.

Aretheyhappy,angry,sad,annoyed,joyous,nervous,oranxious?Canyouarticulate

why?

Justmakesurepeopledon’tcatchyoustaringatthem!

Days19to20:Practicebegins.

You’vepreparedforthisforalmost3weeks!Thisiswhenyoucanreallybegin

internalizingthelessonslearned,andputthemintopracticetosolidifythem.

Thebestpeopletopracticewitharetheservicepeopleinyourlife–Imeanthe

baristas,cashiers,andvaletsthatweinteractwithonadailybasis.

Thesepeopleareliterallypaidtobenicetoyou,andyouhaveprobablymadetheir

dayfarlessboringjustbyengagingthem.

Finally,it’sazero-riskmovetopracticeonservicepeoplebecausethere’sagood

chancethatyouwon’tseethesepeopleagaininyourlife.Ifyoucrashandburn,

whichisunlikelygiventheirjobs,thenyouhavestilllostnothingbecausetheywill

notimpactyourlifeinanyway.

Besttopracticeonpeoplelikethat,thatwillhavenoimpactonyourlife,thantodive

inandpracticewiththeCEOofyourcompanyatabigcompanynetworkingevent.

It’slow-risk,high-reward,andultimatelyasatisfyingthrill.

Day21:Shootforthemoon.

Isthereachallengingsocialsituationthatyouhavealwaysbeenhesitanttoface?

Someonethatyouhavealwaysbeenhesitanttoengageinconversation?

Nowisthetimetoseizethatfearandmakeanopportunityofit.You’vehonedyour

skillsthroughsmartstudyandpracticeforthepast3weeks,sothereisliterallyno

pointinyourlifethatyouhavebeenmorepreparedforit.

Thebaristasmaybetooeasyforyounow,soit’stimetoputyourskillstothe

challengebytacklingsomethingbig.Thebaristasalsodon’tinducetheanxietyor

adrenalinethatyou’llfeelonadailybasisinactualsocialsituationsthathavesome

stakes,soit’stimetostartintroducingthoseintoyourcontextandgetusedtobesting

them.

Thischallengewillbeeasierthanyouthought,andrememberthoseproblemsyou

wroteatthebeginningofthe21days?Takealookatthoseandseehowyoufeel

aboutthemnow.

Makenomistakeaboutit,greatconversationalistsaremade.Theyareneverborn.

Youcanbeasocialperson,butyoustillneedskillstobuildonyournaturalabilitiesto

trulybecomeagreatconversationalist.Evenifyou'reatrueintrovertandthethought

ofmeetingandtalkingtostrangersscaresyou,youcanstilldeveloptheskillsetyou

needtobeaneffectiveconversationalist.

19.Humor101.

Whetherornotyouareafanofstandupcomedy,youcan’tnotacknowledgethatthere

arecomediansthatareclearlysuperiortoothers.ThedifferencebetweenaDaneCook

(so-soinmyopinion)andaLouisC.K.(crudeandhilariousinmyopinion)isasbig

astheGrandCanyon,andit’sinnosmallpartduetotheirdeliveryandtiming.

WhyamItellingyouthis?

It’ssimplytobringawarenesstothefactthatevenpeoplewhotelljokesforaliving

sometimesaren’tgreatathumor.

Now,combinethatwiththefactthathumorisprettymuchthebestsociallubricant

thereis,andthatjokesareessentiallyshortstoriesthataredesignedtoproduce

specificresponses.Whatdoweget?

Humor,thoughsupremelydifficult,isdamnimportanttodailyconversation.

Luckily,scientistshaveactuallystudiedhumorandbrokenitdownintosmall

componentsthatwecanactuallylearntouseindailyconversation.Morespecifically,

theyhaveproposedthatthevastmajorityofhumorfallsintoacertainnumberof

distinctpatternsandstructures,whichIwillintroduceyoutoshortly.

Retitling.

Thisiswhenyoureframeanactionunderadifferentname,usuallyinanexaggerated

manner.

“Rajiswalkinginandoutoftraffic”becomes“Wow,RajisembracinghisinnerEvil

Kinevil.”

“Didhejustwatchthatterribleromanticcomedy?”becomes“Iguessheistryingto

findhisfeminineside,huh?”

“Hegetsthesamecoffeeeveryday”becomes“Hisbloodisprobablyhalflattethese

days.”

Statingtheopposite.

Thisiswhenyouansweraquestionorstatementwiththeoppositeofthetruthina

jokingandoftensarcasticmanner.

“Whothehellwasthat?”“I’mguessingitwasn’tBradPitt.”

“Wheredoesthisroadgoto?”“Mordor,Ithink.”

Underplayingimpact.

Thisissimilartoaeuphemism–itiswhenyouunderplaytheimpactordamagemade

bysomethinginasarcasticmanner.Somemightrecognizethisasslightlypassive-

aggressive,butthekeyhereistonotactuallycareabouttheimpactandsayitwitha

smile.Thismakestheotherpersonknowthattheimpactisnotabigdeal,andthat

youactuallyarejoking.

“I’msorryIdidn’tmeantohityou,areyouokay?”“Totallyreadytoruna5k,ifyou

excludemycrushedfootandleg.”

“Ididn’tmeanforthate-mailtogetsentout!”“Don’tworry,itjustupsettheentire

managementteam.”

“SorryIdidn’twashthedishes.”“Noproblem,I’mtotallyreadyforinvasionofthe

antsparttwo.”

Emphasizetheoppositeofsomethingshared.

Thisiswhereyoutakesomethingthatyousharewiththeotherperson,andtalkasif

theoppositeistrue.

Ifit’saverycoldday,“I’mgoingtogotothebathroom,letmeknowifIcanget

anyonesomeicewaterorjusticecubes.”

Ifitisaverysunnyday,“Lookslikewewon’tbegettingtanstoday,guys.”

Ifsomeonespillstheirdrink,“Andyoucanseewhythisplacehaswonawardsfor

cleanliness!”

Literalobservation.

Thisiswhenyoubreaksomethingthatyouhaveobserveddownintoverydescriptive

components.

Onsomeone’sbutt:“Itlooksliketwopringleshugging.”

Onamessykitchenaftercookingmeat:“Thislookslikewolveshavejustfed.”

Onabodybuilder’sarms:“Thatbicepisliterallythesizeofmyhead.”

Anunexpectedconclusion.

Thisiswhenyouaretellingastorythatseemstoleadtoacertainconclusion,butthe

conclusionyouactuallyuseiscompletelydifferentfromwhattheyexpect.

“Imightnotseemygrandmaagainafterthis.”“Issheokay?”“She’sfine,Ijustdon’t

likeherverymuch.”

“Ireallylovewalkingtothebeach.”“Youlikethewateralot?”“No,Ilikewatching

surferswipeout.”

“Ican’tbelievemydogisstillalive.”“Becauseheissoold?”“Morebecausehe

keepsstealingmychocolate.”

Sowhilesomeofthesemaybehitormissforyou,ormayrequiresomepractice,

thesehumorpatternsandstructuresareliterallyscientificallyproventobefunny.

Effectiveconversationisoftenbookendedbyhumor,andifyoucanmakesomeone

simplylaughandenjoythemselvesduringaconversation,theywillbethatmuch

morewillingtostickaroundandcontinueit.

Noteveryonehastobethelifeoftheparty,butlaughterisincrediblydisarming.It

shouldbeaformidableweaponinyourarsenal,soembracethisandtakesometimeto

learnthestructuresandpatternsIhavepresented.

Conclusion

Conversation–it’snotalwaysthestuffofKissinger,butIhopeit’sbeenmadeclear

exactlyhowmuchinfluenceitcanhaveonyourdailylife.

Withoutit,howarerelationshipsbuilt?Moreimportantly,howarehumansrelatable

toeachother?

Conversationcaneasilybebrokendownintobaseelementsandcomponents,butitis

notuntilyoufitthemalltogetherthatyouwilltrulybeabletomasterthem.

Thisofcoursemeansthatpracticeandapplicationisintegraltogainingthe

conversationskillsthatyoudesire.Someofyoumayneedtostretchmy21dayplan

in42oreven63days,andthat’sokay.

Justmakesureyouareabletoreflectonwhereyoustarted,anditwillbeworthit

already.

Sincerely,

PatrickKing

DatingandSocialSkillsCoach

P.S.Ifyouenjoyedthisbook,pleasedon’tbeshyanddropmealine,leaveareview,

orboth!Ilovereadingfeedback,andreviewsarethelifebloodofKindlebooks,so

theyarealwayswelcomeandgreatlyappreciated.

OtherbooksbyPatrickKinginclude:

CHATTER:SmallTalk,Charisma,andHowtoTalktoAnyone

Magnetic:HowtoImpress,Connect,andInfluence

SocialFluency:GenuineSocialHabitstoWorkaRoom,OwnaConversation,and

beInstantlyLikeable…EvenIntroverts!http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PJBF6JK

CheatSheet

1.MASTERCONVERSATION;RELATIONSHIPS.Becominggreatatconversation

willmakepeopletrustyou,openuptoyou,andultimatelyfeelsafetoyou–three

integralelementsofstrongfriendshipsandrelationships.

2.EVERYONELIKESAVERBALMIRROR.Reflectstatementsbacktowards

peopleandmakethemthefocusoftheconversationtoopenthemupandreach

conversationdepth.

3.ICEBREAKING,MELTINGGLACIERS,ANDSTARTINGA

CONVERSATION.Toeffectivelybreaktheicewithanyone,useicebreakersthatare

relatedtosomethingyoushareatthemoment,andthenleadtheconversationbackto

themandfocusonthem.

4.COMMONQUESTIONSANDUNCOMMON,BETTERANSWERS.Predictthe

commonquestionsyouwillbeaskedonadaytodaybasisandpreparebeforehandfor

interestinganswersandmini-storiestojumpstartinteractions.

5.EFFECTIVELISTENINGINTHREESTEPS.Trulyfocusonthespeaker,follow

upwithspecificandpointedquestions,andresisttheurgetostealtheirthunder.

6.BUILDINGABULLETPROOFFIRSTIMPRESSION.Atrulyeffectivefirst

impressionisholisticandincludesyourvoice,bodylanguage,andhowyoucarrythe

conversation’sfirstsixtyseconds.

7.TELLSTORIESLIKEHOMERANDAESOPCOMBINED.Astoryisultimately

anemotionalexperience,sobeyondfulfillingthemechanicalstorytellingcomponents,

makesurethatthelistenerisinvestedandthattheemotionalpayloaddelivers.

8.MAKINGSAFETOPICSINTOFAILSAFECONVERSATIONS.Mostofthetime

itdoesn’tmatterwhereyoustartaconversationfrom,aslongasyoucanguideitinto

apersonalandmoreintimatespace.

9.AVOIDAWKWARDANDUNCOMFORTABLESILENCES.Conversation

silencesaretypicallycausedbythelackofaleaderintheconversation,sotakethat

roleandtakeresponsibilitytopre-empteachsilencewithdeeporcallbackquestions.

10.BODILYSPEAKING.Humancomunicationhasverylittletodowithwhatwe

actuallysay,andfarmoretodowithhowwedeliverthatmessagethroughourbody

andothernon-verbalsignals.

11.SOCIALCUESSAYMORETHANYOURWORDS.Socialcuesarehowpeople

saywhattheyreallywanttosay,withouthavingtosayit.Often,thedifference

betweenrecognizingcertaincuesisthedifferencebetweenbeingextremelylikeable

andthatpersonthateveryonewantstoavoid.

12.EXITINGCONVERSATIONSWITHGRACE.Conversationstypicallyserve

threepurposestopeople,andaslongasyougivepeoplethechancetofeelsomewhat

fulfilledinoneofthepurposes,youshouldfeelfreetowalkaway.

13.CONVERSATIONKILLERS.Conversationsaretypicallycutshortwhenthey

aren’tgiventhechancetodevelop,oryoudon’tletthem.

14.IT’SANINTROVERT’SPARTYTOO.Introvertsareallaboutconservingand

usingtheirsocialbatterieswisely,sopassiveparticipationandspecificassumptions

canhelpthemrallyforwhentheyarespent.

15.CONFRONTINGWITHOUTCONFRONTATION.Confrontationhastornmany

arelationshipandfriendshipapart,soitisimportanttofigureoutwaystodeliver

negativemessageswithoutinflictinginsultorinjury.

16.LISTENTOOPENTHEMUP.Listeningeffectivelycaninstantlytransportyou

intoclosefriendterritory,andthemainbarriertothisisthefearofjudgmentanda

lackofsafespacetobevulnerable.

17.DIGITALLYSPEAKING.Themainissuewithmostdigitalformsof

communicationisthelackofclarity,soexaggerationandexplicitclarificationwill

helpyouavoidmisunderstandings.

19.HUMOR101.Laughteristhebestsociallubricantthatdoesn’tinvolveillicit

substances,sofocusingonafewpatternsthathumortypicallyfollowswillmakeyou

morelikeableandengaginginstantly.