Yesterday, we discussed five questions you can ask over your Christmas lunch or as you gather for your holiday parties. But what if you don’t have list of questions with you? How can you start conversations in the middle of an awkward silence?
We can learn from your Facebook newsfeed. Think about how many “quizzes” you see on a daily basis: If you were a color, what color would you be? If you were a natural disaster, what kind would you be? If you were a bird, what song would you sing? If you were a flower, what flower would you be. The quizzes are endless, but they give you the foundation for a wealth of questions you can ask to get to know someone better. The answers others give open up a window to their thinking, and when people are discussing the possibilities, it allows you to follow up with other questions as they come to mind.
The art to great conversation is to listen well, ask questions to get others to discuss what they know, reciprocate with a short story of your own, and then throw another question out for discussion. It’s somewhat like a game of ping pong, where your opponent has a tennis racquet instead of a paddle. They should have the greater play time in the conversation, and you, with your paddle, gently bounce questions back. Of course, that’s not to say you shouldn’t share your stories when they’re relevant, but where many conversationalists go wrong is that they dominate the conversation and don’t bounce back and forth.
Now that family and friends are starting to arrive, there’s plenty of time to practice. If you’re going to fail, you might as well fail with those who love you. And if you’re going to succeed, it will only help you to grow. Win-Win!
DAY 67 HOMEWORK: Listen. Ask. Reciprocate. Ask anew. Repeat. Then practice some more.