Are you a good conversationalist?

Why the Least Important Person in Any Conversation is You

Are you a good conversationalist?

In any social situation, we tend to inflate our egos in hopes of impressing others. We play up our level of education, our career, family, and kids as a way of informing others “hey, you should get to know me.”

We know our strengths but also our weaknesses. In our ultra competitive world, we often play up our strengths to disguise our vulnerabilities. We constantly fear that our perceived adversaries may gain the upper hand.

But, this strategy often backfires.  Not being perceived as a “team player” may be hazardous to your job. It may jeopardize future promotions and  current job stability. Moreover, and most importantly, no one likes a pompous person. If you’re not a rock star or other celebrity, the sad truth is that few people really care about your accomplishments, or, at least, they don’t want to spend all of dinnertime hearing about it.

Forget trying to manipulate others into viewing you as a debonair and charming person. In fact, forget about yourself entirely. Focus on the other person.

Everyone you talk to is trying to play the same game as you. They want you to like them, respect them, and be impressed by them, so they will puff out their chests and pull the same tactics you do. But you won’t be doing that any more. Instead, you’re going to feed into the other person’s game and make them think their strategy is working.

Again, and as always, be an active listener. Seem genuinely interested. Ask about their hobbies and their life story. Find out what they care about and are passionate about.

People love to talk about themselves.  While it takes extra effort to get out of our comfort zone because we tend to stick to what’s familiar. We like to stick to the same groups of people and coworkers in our social circle that we’ve known for a long time.  But making new acquaintances and friends has many rewards. You’ll get more contacts, more opportunities, more invitations to fun events. You can be the height of popularity and everyone’s favorite.

We don’t operate in an isolated world, but in an interconnected one. In most cultures, acquiring jobs and marriage partners are dependent on having the right connections.  Therefore, it is to your advantage to expand your connections as widely as possible.

Here are some ways to make others enjoy talking with you and seek your company:

1. Compliment others (genuinely). 

We can all tell when a compliment is genuine or not. Tone of voice is very important, and feel free to be unique. Any compliment you can think of that you actually mean is worth saying, whether you are commenting on someone’s hair or smile. It means more to us when others take the time out to pay us a compliment that is rightly deserved rather than an off-the-cuff one which seems rushed and insignificant.

2. Body language.

By listening and being “in the moment”, others are more likely to be interested in what we have to say. Smiling and sitting closer in proximity to others makes us appear less threatening and more receptive to others.

Don’t face people fully frontally, as you can seem intimidating. Lean slightly off to the side so you appear more relaxed. Looking straight at someone with your held high also gives the impression that you’re looking down your nose at them, which conveys arrogance. Tilt your chin down slightly so you seem approachable.

3. Speak slowly. 

Almost all of us suffer from the calamity of speaking far too quickly, because we’re all eager to push our ideas out there and impress others. Speak slowly and meaningfully, and you will appear less anxious and more genuine. People who speak too quickly promote nervousness.

4. Ask for assistance. 

Flatter the other person in the conversation by asking their advice or asking for their opinion on something. Benjamin Franklin often employed this tactic by asking his enemies if he could loan a book from their library. He would return the book with a gracious thank you note tucked under the cover. Franklin took advantage of an effect known as cognitive dissonance, the divide between the enemy’s attitude of hatred for Franklin and the fact that said enemy just did a favor for the man he hates, Franklin. In such a situation, the mind tries to find harmony by assigning more positivity to the person you just did a favor for. Hence, Franklin managed to calm down his enemies and get them to like him.

Employ the above tactics in conversation and you will be a golden child. You don’t need to fuel your ego in any conversation, because your ego will get fed after the fact (when everyone likes you). Let the other person be the most important person in any conversation, and you will rise in stature in their eyes.

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