We all live in dread of “dead air” – those awkward moments when you find yourself face-to-face with the need to have a conversation with someone you have just met. What follows are some tried and true conversation tips to keep in mind:
“Everyone you meet knows something you don’t”
Approach every conversation with the wonderful sense of having something to learn. As Bill Nye, the science guy says, “Everyone you meet knows something you don’t.”
You will be amazed if you show genuine interest in what insights and wisdom you can learn from the other person.
It’s a conversation, not a monologue
If you find yourself pontificating or giving a lecture, stop, pause and ask a question or check in with the other person.
Everyone has a past, a present, and a future.
Should you find yourself at a loss of what to say next, remember that everyone has three phases of their lives: a past present and a future, and there are always multiple questions you can ask about each phase. Here are some examples:
Past: What is one value your parents/grandparents instilled in you?
Present: One of my favorite questions, is “what is your biggest challenge at the moment”?
Future: What is one place on your vacation bucket list?
Listen to understand and not to respond
Too often, we are so busy thinking about our next response or question that we don’t really listen. Try to change that by having a conversation where you only ask qualifying questions like “tell me more” or “how does that make you feel?” You will find that substituting these kinds of questions for I statements will surely lead to a more fruitful conversation with a much greater impact.