Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The art of conversation

  1.                                              the informal exchange of ideas by spoken words.

I recently chatted with Brooke Walker from KSL's Studio 5 while she was on KBYU radio (also Sirius XM radio channel 143) filling in for Matt Townsend.  It was fun to chat with her (love her and consider her a friend) and it's also led to an invitation to come chat with Matt on a regular basis to discuss manners and etiquette; I even got a real phone call with a question (other than the one from my mother-she's so cute).  To the point, my chat with Brooke was about the art of conversation and how to keep it going or start it without being superficial or too deep.

Here's what we talked about:

1.  Be genuinely interested in the person to whom you are speaking
- no matter what you're asking, make sure are sincere and that will be perceived hopefully by the other party.

2. All conversations are give and take.  Don't interview and don't be interviewed. 
- After you are asked a question about yourself, answer it and then perhaps ask a question back to show interest in the other person.

3. Always be your best self, we want to see it all, but not all at once.
- it's always great to talk about interesting things going on in the world such as politics or religion, but these topics can often be personal and even volatile at times.  Try to be your real self while keeping the focus on neutral topics such as career, traveling, etc.

4. Just because you're different doesn't mean you have nothing in common.
- If something comes up that creates a divide or where you don't see eye to eye with the other person, build on some point of commonality, finding the positive in their response.

5. It's called "The art of conversation" for a reason- it takes time, practice, and lots of patience, but it will pay off if you do those things.

5 conversation starters:

Ask a question, for example: What do you do? What brings you here today? What have you been up to lately?  What do you have going on this next week?

2. Pay a compliment (a sincere one):  Notice something about the person that you like, this can be a quality or even something as simple as what they are wearing or how they did their hair (for women especially).  

3. Use a surrounding object as an anchor:  (A. at an event- "the speaker before lunch was so fascinating.  I didn't realize there were so many things to do in New Zealand", B. at a social gathering, "this is such a beautiful location, I've never been here before, have you?" C. Waiting in line to order food, "I love the buffalo chicken here but I haven't tried any other sauces.  Have you ever tried (insert name of different foods here)?"  

4. Ask for help or advice.  This puts you in a passive role which can be very helpful at times when you feel like your questions aren't being answered.  Asking someone for advice helps them feel valued, this is a great way to rescue a crashing conversation.  You must be observant and know on which subjects they feel they are knowledgeable.  

5. Share something about yourself.  This also puts you in a vulnerable position, but a genuine one.  I'd always choose to be genuine than superficial, it's much more gratifying.  

Just last night I was grabbing a drink for my daughter at a fast food restaurant and as a lady and I were both standing by the drink machine waiting for our orders, she casually mentioned that "orange Fanta" was at the fast food establishment in Italy on the military base there.  I responded that I didn't know they even had such a restaurant in Italy.  I then shared that through my travels in Europe, I always ran into Orangina and was that the same thing as their "fanta"?  She explained that it tasted quite different and I responded with how fascinated I was by the fact that they had such seemingly obscure restaurants in Europe and she went on to name several restaurant chains that she had visited all over the world and I asked if the menus varied or the taste...it went on like that until my food was ready and I wished her a pleasant evening.  

Conversations are a basic human interaction that can feed or drain us.  Even for those introverts out there, it can be an interesting experience and you never know what you can learn in just a few minutes with someone, and perhaps you made their day or they made yours...or better yet, both.

It was a blast to have such a casual forum in which to speak and not be pressed for time.  I love doing segments on Studio 5, this was just different, and a nice change.  

I hope this helps you feel more comfortable starting a conversation or helps you keep those awkward moments during a convo to a minimum.  

Have a great week.  


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