Meeting people, getting to know them and building your tribe involves the art of conversation. Getting good at conversation leads to meaningful relationships and leaving others with a positive lasting impression. According to Charlie Tremendous Jones:
“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”
If you’ve ever left a conversation feeling underwhelmed or perturbed, one of these five things could be behind it. Avoid creating that feeing in others by cutting the following out:
Your business is going well but the person you’re speaking with knows someone who’s absolutely smashing it. We’ve all been in those kind of conversations and they never have the desired effect.
Let others have their moment and be supportive and encouraging instead of feeling like you have to one-up.
Your time will come, so stay humble and resist the urge to get involved. Onlookers can see right through it, anyway.
So you read the 4-Hour Work Week way before anyone else. Congratulations. Maybe you were vegan before it was cool. Or discovered Stoicism in high school. If you were ahead of the curve in any way, it really isn’t important and you don’t need everyone to know.
As Ricky Maye said, “Conversation isn’t about proving a point; true conversation is about going on a journey with the people you are speaking with.”
What matters is that you are acting true to yourself and you are happy and willing to share your experience with others if they should ask for it. Who cares if someone thinks you’re on the bandwagon? If something has changed your life for the better, let that be enough.
Guessing someone’s thoughts or actions based on labels you have administered is a dangerous game that no one takes kindly to. Appreciate that how you see someone might not be how they see themselves, so it’s always better to ask and understand rather than assume or label.
If you’ve ever been categorised or put in a box by someone else, you’ll know how frustrating it can be and how wrong they can have you!
Not all punch lines need to come at the expense of others. It’s possible, and desirable, to be funny without insulting anyone else. In the 48 Laws of Power, Robert Greene advises, “Never joke about appearances or taste”, two matters he deems highly sensitive to others. See others as equals and talk to them as such. Someone insulting your appearance or taste is a sign of their weakness, not yours.
As Dorothy Nevill said, “The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right place but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.” Think before you speak to consider how it might be received!
When you’re talking to someone, give them your full attention. Avoid looking for opportunities to get your phone out. Chatting whilst scrolling just sends the message that what someone else is saying isn’t as important as what might be happening on the internet at any given moment. “Phubbing”, phone-snubbing, is real and it’s costing human interaction and genuine connection. Don’t be that guy. Someone I know just walks away if the person he’s engaging with gets out their phone. He gives his full attention and expects the same in return.
As author Samuel Johnson said, “The happiest conversation is that of which nothing is distinctly remembered, but a general effect of pleasing impression.” Doing anything other than fully listening, sharing stories and asking great follow-up questions is missing the point of conversation.
Avoid one-upmanship, being precious, delivering put-downs and phubbing to have conversations that leave a lasting positive impression and relationships that thrive.