You know the type – the people who command attention the entire conversation. You know everything about them and their day, yet they did not ask you ONE question in return! The interaction was more a monologue than a dialogue. Often times you walk away from these conversations and wonder why you feel frustrated. It is hard to change these people, so let’s do a self-check on our skills.
As a motivational speaker, people often ask questions about how I got started in the business and who my clients are, and I find myself getting giddy. Someone is interested in me! I have to relax and realize that they mostly want the cliff note version of my career path. It is fun to have an interesting job, but it is a conversation killer to wax on and on about it. I always try to steer the conversation back to them. Then they get to feel giddy, “Yippee, someone is interested in me!”
BE INTERESTED MORE THAN INTERESTING
The problem is that we all want to appear interesting, but true meaningful conversations occur when there is genuine interaction, where both parties converse equally and thoughtfully. The most important step is to be more interested in the other person than trying to be interesting to them. Yes, we want to bond and connect, but watch what happens when you are an engaged listener. Give others your full attention rather than waiting for them to take a breath, so you can hijack the conversation with something about yourself.
My engineer hubby is famous for this. When we are at parties, he will end up “talking” with someone and when I say talking, I mean that he listens, asks great questions and is truly present. People will then tell me what an amazing husband I have, which is funny because I know how my husband casts his spell — he is interested in them!
DOWN WITH THE ONE-UPPER
A subset of the conversation killer is the one-upper. You know people who after listening to your story have to top it with their story? Sometimes it becomes a contest of who had the worst day or who is the most stressed out or how many sporting events they had to sit though. Just let people have their moment. You’re not performing or trying to win. I know it is hard, but if you beat them with an “even more embarrassing moment” (I always can), you’ve basically stolen the thunder and killed the conversation momentum. Don’t be a banter bully.
THE BIG KEY
Do you want to have better and more meaningful connections and relationships?
Be aware of your conversation skills. Recognize when you are too long in the speaking spotlight. People have a story and they love when someone is interested in listening. Be present and pay attention to what others are saying. Ask questions. Make relating statements. Find a balance between listening and talking.
Converse. Connect. Engage. Enjoy!