Picture this. You are chilling in a coffee shop, or searching for an ingredient in Aisle 5 of the grocery store, or floating at a mixer event, or having lunch with a new friend. You are open to chatting with anyone around you. You might even initiate the conversation. Then it starts. An interrogation that seems more intrusive than interesting. Questions that do not lead to dialogue but seem more like a checklist.
I have had this experience too many times to count and I am now comfortable to announce that I am officially done with it. I am done tolerating others questioning my existence. I am tired of being made to feel uneasy about alternative motives. As I continue my journey in restoring my vulnerability, I feel like I have made progress in improving my interactions. Not everyone enjoys talking about themselves, but everyone does enjoy talking about what they think. You can learn a lot more about a person by asking for their opinion on something rather than asking why they have an accent. The former is more positive and can branch out to a variety of topics and jokes. The later can block all chances of dialogue depending on the persons response.
Here are some tips on how to contribute to dialogue and direct your interactions to be more fulfilling.
1. Use the news and current events.
When you think about how much is happening around the world, there really is no excuse in not knowing what to talk about. Start with broad and simple things to gauge what the person you are speaking to is interested in. Was there a big game or show this past weekend? Is there a new movie or album that everyone is talking about? Is there a new initiative launching in your local community? Is Congress about to vote on a bill? Did someone famous recently die?
The best way to get someone to feel comfortable talking is to make them feel safe and significant. By starting the conversation with news or current events, neither of you have to commit to a breach of privacy and both of you will appreciate meeting someone who is interested in your opinion.
2. Learn about each others passions.
Everyone’s claim to networking is figuring out what others can do for you. That is all fine, but can sometimes come across as disingenuous. Just for kicks, why don’t you try listening to someone else describe their latest project for the sake of learning about another cool person. I am genuinely interested in hearing about others work and aspirations to see if we have anything in common, how I could contribute, and if we could collaborate. I also know how important it is to surround yourself with like-minded people who support you. The best way to build that tribe is to talk about each others passions.
3. Respect your time.
You have control over how splendid or lame your experiences are. Make a point to never settle for mediocre chatter. Your time and opinions are valuable.
I hope you found these tips helpful. Conversation can be so inspiring and enlightening if used correctly. How do you direct the conversation? Let me know in the comments below.
Wearing: Forever 21 blazer, The Limited blouse, New York & Company jeans, DSW shoes