Broad, vague questions are conversation kryptonite. You’ve all probably heard that one of the best ways to continue conversation and connect deeply is to keep asking questions. “So what do you like to do for fun?” Who ever has a good answer to that question? Or what your favorite hobby is, or what your favorite music is… There’s a good way and a bad way to ask questions in conversation. Yes, even questions can be optimized for great interactions.
Studies have shown that initial trust is easy to build. All it takes is a bit of dedication and time. Let’s back up a second. True or false: we seem to like and trust our neighbors and classmates a bit more than others, even if we don’t talk to them. 100% absolutely stinkin’ true.
People choose topics to talk about because they either feel a certain way about them, or the topic has made them feel a certain way. In either case, it’s because they are affected on an emotional level – happiness, joy, laughter, sadness, anger, you name it. It’s why we share viral videos and pictures, from hilarious cat videos to pictures that make us want to call our parents.
Look, conversation is simple. Okay not really, but when you break conversation down, it’s actually a very small set of patterns. Here is almost every conversation broken down: 1. A question or salutation is spoken. 2. You either answer the question and focus on yourself, or focus on the other person and ask them a question.
[Or insert whoever your current and favorite talk show host is.] Guess what? Small talk is a talk show host’s entire job! His or her sole purpose is to engage the guest and drive a conversation along, and often make something from nothing. On top of it, the conversation must be funny, witty, and charming at the same time! Sounds exhausting. But even the Jay Lenos of the world have a very simple mindset trick to keep their small talk engaging and charming. Ready for it?
People love feeling validated. It opens them up and instantly transforms a normal conversation into a gab session. Naturally, this is good for making new friends. But what the hell does that mean, to validate someone in a normal everyday conversation?
Awkward silences are one of the worst feelings in the world, right up there with being picked last for dodgeball. But here’s one simple tip that can practically eliminate awkward silences, especially with new people and even with people you’ve known for years. Just prepare your stories.
History, philosophy, metaphor (HPM). Memorize it! Sometimes our minds just blank at the worst times in a conversation. Don’t you hate that? But if you just remember HPM, you will always have an angle, something to say, and avoid awkward silences. It’s because everyone has HPM about literally any topic – which is why it’s a golden improv comedy rule. So if you go the HPM route, people will be able to relate instantly to it, and probably have something to reply in kind with. HPM can sneak into a conversation and take it off life support, so really… just …
Stop me if this sounds familiar. You meet a hot girl or have an attractive female friend. Instead of making your intentions known explicitly, you only imply your affections, by treating her extremely well and always being there for her. You never make any sort of move on her. After a certain amount of figurative (and never literal) hand-holding and “best friend” hangouts, you secretly hope and expect her dependence and comfort with you turns into romantic love, and you skip straight to the ending of a Matthew McConaughey movie. Facepalming yet?
Nice guys finish last. It’s a popular saying many guys use to justify their spot on the totem pole of women they desire. It’s also a misconception that’s up there with Obama’s origin of birth. What’s a nice guy? Nice guys are generally awesome – they’ll pick you up from the airport, help you with your groceries, and volunteer to go on a beer run if necessary. Other guys like nice guys, and women certainly like nice guys. Most self-proclaimed nice guys are actually just afflicted with Nice Guy Syndrome, and feel like they are cheated out of a fair …