If you’ve ever found yourself in a conversation, and felt that uncomfortable silence, you know that coming up with something interesting to say on the spur of the moment can be very difficult. When you combine two people feeling that same lack of conversational insight at the same time, and you have the recipe for conversation ending disaster.
One widely held misconception about holding interesting conversations is that you have to be interesting. While it helps if your job is a juggling trapeze artist who performs regularly for the Queen of England, it’s really not necessary to be anybody other than yourself. After you finish reading this short article, you’ll have the tools necessary to easily become the best conversationalist in the room.
The simple secret is that you don’t have to be interesting, rather you have to be interested. Interested in what the other person is saying, why they are saying it, how they came to their conclusions. Itâ€™s no big mystery that most people like to talk about themselves. That is the biggest stumbling block to conversation success.
Most people are so interested in speaking about themselves; they rarely give the other person a chance to speak. When you have two people competing for the limelight in a conversation, it can get pretty boring, pretty quickly.
The trick is to ask open-ended questions about what the other person is saying. An open-ended question is simply a question that doesn’t have a short one-word answer. When you begin to dig beneath the surface of what the other person is trying to say, you show that you are really interested in them, which will almost automatically make them interested in you. We generally like people that like us, and think that we are interesting.
Once you start digging beneath he surface of their conversation, start to look for similarities. Similarities in experiences, in values, in beliefs. Once you find a similarity, briefly tell a story or personal anecdote illustrating the similarity. This is much better than simply saying “me too!” That can come off as being insincere, as if you are some kind of salesperson trying to sell something.
Once you discover a similarity, and tell a brief story or anecdote, guide the conversation back to what they were talking about, so they don’t think you are stealing the conversation. This takes some practice, because it’s pretty easy to lose your place once you start talking about yourself.
But just like anything, the more you practice the better you will get, so don’t give up if you forget this at first. When you can engage somebody in a conversation, become interested in them and their stories, show (don’t tell) how you are similar in experience or beliefs with them, all while keeping the conversation focused on them, you will fast become a very popular person.
Extra bonus points if you can do this on a first date. That will create that feeling of “clicking” with someone, which is a great foundation for a good relationship.
Of course, if you are listening to them drone on and on, and you really can’t find anything they are saying interesting, and you can’t find any similar experiences, it’s best to cut your losses and find somebody else to talk to. Remember, not everybody was meant to be friend with everybody else.
When you use this strategy with people on a regular basis, you’ll develop deep, lasting friendships with people that you find interesting, and share many things in common with.
Now get off the Internet and go out and talk to somebody!