What’s the most boring part of downloading a new app?
Well, it’s not searching for the app. It’s not the 10 second download period of it either.
So what is it?
It’s reading the ‘Terms and Conditions’. And if we’re being honest, very few of us actually read it. What most of us do, is scroll to the bottom of it and click agree. Accepting that we have no idea what we are agreeing to. We not only do this for countless apps but when opening new accounts.
We skip over the ‘Terms and Conditions’ because it’s not fun to read. And we rather spend our time doing something more enjoyable.
When your conversations are not enjoyable, people will treat you like the 'Terms and Conditions.' Where they will spend as little time with you as possible and pretend that they were listening to you when in reality, they weren’t.
But how can we change that?
In this article, I’ll show you three principles to keep in mind when you are having a conversation. You follow these principles, people will not only enjoy speaking with you but will want to learn more about you.
So what are these three principles?
Staying away from cliche topics
Being genuinely interested in the other person.
Not revealing too much about yourself.
Stay away from cliche topics
If you ever eavesdrop on random conversations during the day, you’ll be surprised to hear a lot of the same topics being discussed. Topics like the weather, sports, current events, etc., are all being discussed in countless conversations.
And the sad part about all this is that the conversations will be forgotten and repeated countlessly in the same week. Very few people walk away from the conversation feeling energized.
The reason why so many conversations are drab is due to cliche topics. These types of topics don’t touch upon anything special, and as a result, make the speakers kind of boring. And if you’re trying to date or make new friends, then it doesn’t help to have any conversation on cliche topics.
So what you need is to talk about something that the other person will genuinely love. Topics they can go on and on for hours.
But what is this topic?
It’s the person you’re talking to.
Be genuinely interested in the other person
This second principle will do you wonders for any conversation you have. It seems so obvious, but the problem is that not many people even know about this. The great Publius Syrus mentioned 2000 years ago: ‘We are interested in others, when they are interested in us’
Human beings have not changed socially for thousands of years. Yet, many people today can’t figure out how to have wonderful conversations. Anyways, let’s get to something a little more tangible.
Whenever you are having a conversation with someone, ask them questions about themselves. And then when you hear something interesting, hone in on it. The reason for this is that you want to be genuinely interested and not faking it.
You can go on and on asking questions that you’re not interested in, but it will come off more like an interview than a fun social engagement. So you have to accept the responsibility to find what’s interesting in the other person and then focus on that.
I used this countless times.
Whether it was with potential employers, romantic partners, people I just met. I find what’s interesting and show my willingness to learn more. Most of them walk away feeling energized by my conversations and wanting my company more.
If you don’t believe me that this principle works.
Watch yourself the next time someone asks you something that you are passionate about. If that conversation energizes you, then you’ll know that it’s true.
That being said, when you show interest in the other person, you want to keep this third principle in mind.
Don’t reveal too much about yourself
This sounds all James Bond-like. But let me tell you something: In life, you don’t want to reveal all of your cards. Because once you do, then the mystery and curiosity are gone. And let’s be honest, being a little mysterious will usually make you look a little more interesting than you actually are.
Plus, I’m not pulling this out of thin air. I will call on Baltasar Gracian to provide proof on my behalf:
“Always have something in reserve. This will secure your position. Don’t employ all your means or draw on all your strength every time. Even where knowledge is concerned, something should be kept back, for this doubles your perfection. There must always be something you can draw on in a tight spot. A relief force, being valorous and honourable, achieves more than an assault. Good sense has always erred on the safe side. Even here we see the truth of that sharp paradox: the half is greater than the whole.” (underline is mine)
Thanks Mr. Gracian, I’ll take it from here now.
When you are having a conversation with someone, you will be so genuinely interested in the other person, they will naturally speak about themselves. And if the person asks you about yourself, you can give a brief answer that doesn’t reveal too much and refocus the conversation back onto the person.
People will not mind this, as they will love talking about themselves.
And when the conversation is finished, they will not only feel good from being heard but will realize they don’t know much about you. And since they had a good time, they will want to know more and probably want to hang out again.
I know this all sounds too good to be true, but not many people have advanced social skills. This advice I am giving you is not new, but very few people have actually applied this consistently. Your social life will change if you meet people and apply these conversation principles. Then again, many people think they are good socially and don’t need to change.
I’ve been there before.
My naive, insecure younger self, thought that he was good at being social. Since people were generally nice to him and were rarely awkward. So I never made any attempts to improve them. But when a friend bought How to Win Friends and Influence People, I realized that I was playing in the amateur league socially.
I read the book twice and applied it. And my social interactions improved significantly. I couldn’t believe it. I was so astonished that I told all my friends to read it.
And I’m not joking.
I told every single one of my friends to read it and apply it. But unfortunately, many of them didn’t. And the reason for that, was because they thought they were already good socially. To quote Baltasar Gracian again:
“Everyone has too high an opinion of themselves, especially those with the least reason to.”
Only fools think they don’t need to improve anymore. Whether it’s being social, networking, writing, any skill, it pays to be willing to improve. Because when most people choose to stop, you’ll keep moving forward, refining your skillset.
My willingness to improve my conversation skills helped make one of my jobs easier.
Psychiatric Hospital Job
When I worked at a psychiatric hospital, I had to deal with a lot of mentally unwell patients. A lot of them meant well but could come off as difficult, mean, or uninterested. Anyways, after learning how to improve my conversation skills, I started applying them to patients. I stayed away from the typical topics they were used to, like medication, programs, dinner time, etc. And showing interest in the patients and their lives. Patients would light up and start speaking profusely. They would talk about things I would have never guessed from looking at them. Wonderful conversations came about from this. Many patients would have their day made after my conversation.
All because they felt they were heard.
And this feeling of being heard carried on for days since the patients would be less difficult to deal with when I was around. Compared to my colleagues, where the patients wouldn’t cooperate at times.
The beauty of great conversations is that it leaves the other person feeling heard. And that feeling can go a long way for you in the short and long term. However, there is one slip-up people make when trying to apply these methods.
Not coming off as genuine
I can’t stress this enough: You need to be genuinely interested in the other person. If you don’t, then it will be impossible to have a great conversation. If you don’t find anything interesting about the other person, it’s either you’re not trying hard enough to find it or the person is difficult to converse with.
Remember, there is usually something you will find interesting about other people.
And it’s your responsibility (if you are willing to accept it) to find it and talk about it. Otherwise, it will be hard for the conversation to be genuine and interesting.
Anyways, let’s sum this article up.
People will enjoy your company more if they can have great conversations with you.
To have great conversations, follow these three principles: Stay away from cliche topics, Be genuinely interested in the other person, Don’t reveal too much about yourself.
Cliche topics are boring and will make the speakers look so too.
Being genuinely interested in the other person will have them speaking enthusiastically, leaving them heard and energized.
Don’t reveal too much about yourself to make yourself a little mysterious and to make others curious about you.
Some people might think they don’t need to improve socially, but that’s an amateur mindset. People with advanced social skills are willing to learn more.
A common mistake for great conversations is not coming off as genuine. If you are not genuine, people can tell and won’t like it.
Great conversations are a dying art.
But with these three principles, you will become a master conversationalist. Where people will love speaking with you. Your conversations will be a fun delight, unlike reading the ‘Terms and Conditions’.
The Charismatic Nerd