I once read somewhere that to be interesting, you have to first be interested – and that means becoming an expert at listening!
Meeting people for the first time and keeping that conversation going can be a very daunting task, but it needn’t be the case. If you seek to understand other people, by listening to what they like to talk about, then meeting people for the first time can be an enjoyable experience.
The problem with meeting new people, or those you don’t know so well, is that you tend to put yourself under pressure to talk. What should I talk about? What shall I say? How will I fill the silence?
You enter into these meetings and encounters with ME firmly front and centre of your mind! You forget about the other person because you’re too busy thinking of what to say! In fact, you don’t end up communicating at all, you just end up taking it in turns to talk.
One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say. Bryant H. McGill
The best conversationalists in this world are often the best at listening. Yet, there you are racking your brains thinking of things to say all of the time.
When you become expert at listening, you invite the other person to do most of the talking. When you go into a situation where you are meeting someone for the first time, go into that encounter with only one thing on your mind – THEM.
You must treat that person as if they are the most important person in the world because to them they are!
To build rapport and to engage in conversation, ask questions and be curious about the other person, not yourself.
So, what do you talk to the other person about? Well, if you’ve been reading this far, you’ll have worked out you don’t!
You allow them to do most of the talking. By doing this they will think that you are wonderful and will, in turn, ask about you and that’s when YOU talk!
How do you engage the other person into talking?
To answer this question, it’s important to understand what other people like to talk to about.
Here is the top 5 in order:
People love to talk about themselves. It’s a fact and I bet you are not an exception to that rule either! Want to know how to build rapport with someone and to hold a conversation? Get them to talk about their favourite subject – themselves!
- “What are YOU up to these days?”
- “Tell me about this…”
- “I hear YOU have been doing this…”
Ask questions to get them to talk about themselves, then ask more questions…and then some more!
2. Their Opinions
Second only to talking about themselves, people love to air their opinions on anything and everything. Ask these questions as well and your new friend could be talking for hours!
- “What do you think of the way Manchester United have played this year?”
- “What is your opinion on the strike?”
- “What do you think of that programme last night?”
However, whatever you do, don’t get into an argument if your opinions differ unless, of course, you want to make a sharp exit!
3. Other People
People love to talk about other people. Some people call this gossip, others just call it talking about other people!
- “What do you think of that person?”
- “Hasn’t that person got great interpersonal skills”
- “Isn’t that person a real laugh?”
Next on the pecking order is talking about things. No matter what it is, your friend will have an opinion on it.
- “I love YOUR car, how long have YOU had it?”
- “What do YOU think of this widget?”
- “I love YOUR jacket, where did you get it from?”
It’s a horrible thing to read, but the last thing people want to talk about is you!
Keep the conversation centred around the other person until they ask about you and then it is your turn.
To keep their full attention wait until they have finished talking about themselves and they have asked you a question. Then you can talk.
When you do talk, however, link it into what the other person has already said and you will really be making magical conversation.
There is a difference between listening and waiting for your turn to speak.Simon Sinek
Call to Action
Next time you are at an event and meeting people for the first time have a go at making conversation by focussing on the top 5 things people love to talk about.
Let me know how it goes by leaving a comment below or dropping me a line.