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Thanh sang lê the languagelab library conversationally speaking


ConversationallySpeaking:
WHATtoSay,WHENtoSayIt,andHOWto
NeverRunOutofThingstoSay


ByPatrickKing
DatingandSocialSkillsCoach
www.PatrickKingConsulting.com







Asashowofappreciationtomyreaders,I’veputtogetheraFREE
TRAININGVIDEO(justenteryouremailaddress)describingtheBEST
exerciseforimmediatesocialandromanticconfidence.Clickovertowatch
itnow!



TableofContents
CONVERSATIONALLYSPEAKING:WHATTOSAY,WHENTOSAYIT,ANDHOWTONEVERRUNOUTOFTHINGS
TOSAY
TABLEOFCONTENTS
INTRODUCTION
1.MASTERCONVERSATION;RELATIONSHIPS.
2.EVERYONELIKESAVERBALMIRROR.
3.ICEBREAKING,MELTINGGLACIERS,ANDSTARTINGACONVERSATION.
4.COMMONQUESTIONSANDUNCOMMON,BETTERANSWERS.
5.EFFECTIVELISTENINGINTHREESTEPS.
6.BUILDINGABULLETPROOFFIRSTIMPRESSION.
7.TELLSTORIESLIKEHOMERANDAESOPCOMBINED.
8.MAKINGSAFETOPICSINTOFAILSAFECONVERSATIONS.
9.AVOIDAWKWARDANDUNCOMFORTABLESILENCES.
10.BODILYSPEAKING.
11.SOCIALCUESSAYMORETHANYOURWORDS.
12.EXITINGCONVERSATIONSWITHGRACE.
13.CONVERSATIONKILLERS.
14.IT’SANINTROVERT’SPARTYTOO.
15.CONFRONTINGWITHOUTCONFRONTATION.
16.LISTENTOOPENTHEMUP.
17.DIGITALLYSPEAKING.
18.A21-DAYCONVERSATIONBOOTCAMPPLAN.
19.HUMOR101.
CONCLUSION
CHEATSHEET




Introduction






I’vebeenfortunatetohavebeenexposedtoawiderangeofpeoplethatIwouldconsiderrolemodels.

Ihavemanyofthetypicalonesthatotherentrepreneursandauthorsdo,buthere’sanunconventionalone
thatmightthrowyouforacurve.

HenryKissinger.

First,somebackground.

HenryKissingerisprimarilyknownasanAmericandiplomatwhoservedunderPresidentsRichard
NixonandGeraldFord.HewenttoHarvard,andcurrentlyrunsKissingerAssociates,aconsultingfirm
thatbrokersinternationalnegotiationsanddealings.

SobesidestoanaspiringSenator,whyexactlyisherolemodel-worthy?

Well,hislistofaccomplishmentshasliterallychangedthecourseofhistory.Let’stakealook.

IntroduceapolicycalleddétentebetweentheUnitedStatesandtheformerSovietUnionattheheightof
theColdWar,whichmanyhistoriansconsiderthebeginningoftheendoftheColdWarandmutualrising
nuclearthreat?Check.

InstitutetalksbetweentheUnitedStatesandcommunistChinawhicheventuallyledtotherecognition
andformalizationofrelationsbetweentwonations,ending23yearsofpoorrelations?Check.

Oh,andnegotiatetheParisPeaceAccordstoestablishpeaceandenddirectUnitedStatesmilitary
involvementinVietnam?Check.

Hisbodyofworkspeaksforitself,butit’sreallythemannerandmethodthroughwhichheaccomplished
thesefeatsthatmakeshimahugerolemodelforme.

Athismostbasiclevel,HenryKissingerwasamastercommunicator,negotiator,andpeopleperson.
Thisishowhewasabletobringquarrelingcountriestogethernolessthanthreeseparatetimesinhistory,
andsaveliterallymillionsoflives.

Hewasabletotalkinwaysthatpeoplewouldlistenandseethebenefitofhiswords.Heknewjusthow
toappealtopeople’sdifferingmotivationsandintentionstoworkoutanunderstandingthatnevercould
havedevelopedotherwise.Hebrokepoliticalstandstillsandbridgedideologicalandphilosophical
differencesinwaysthatbothsparedandendedgreatconflicts.Hedeeplyunderstoodhowtobend
people’spositionstoembracerealityandcompromise.



Finally,hejustmadethingshappenthroughsheerskillandwill.

Canyouimaginehavingthatmuchsocialgracethatyoucanliterallybendthefateofnationswithyour
conversations?Meneither,butthatdoesn’tmeanit’snotaworthygoaltostrivefor.

It’sclearwhatthepowerofsimpleconversationcando–ifitcanshapehistory,justimaginehowmuch
moreenrichingitcanhelpourpersonallivesbe?

Conversationisthebedrockofanyrelationship,andit’sexactlyhowandwhyyouhavebondedwith
everypersoninyourclosestsocialcircles.Theremayhavebeensomecircumstantialluckinvolvedfrom
timetotime,butmyhopeisthatthroughtheprinciplesinthisbook,youwillbeabletostrikeupa
conversationwithanyoneatanytime,withnothingcircumstantialrequiredatall.

You’llunderstandhowandwhyaconversationplaysoutthewayitdoes,andseeitforthescienceof
patternrecognitionthatitreallyis.

Icoverallphasesofatypicalconversationfromicebreakingtoleavingonahighnote,andnearlyevery
partinbetween–notjustWHATtosay,WHENtosayit,andHOWtoneverrunoutofthingstosay…
butWHYeverythingworksthewayitdoes.

You’lluncoveradeepunderstandingofsocialmechanicsthatwillmakeyou,conversationallyspeaking,
preparedforanything.

WemightnotbeabletoreunitetheKoreas,butwecandefinitelymakeadifferenceinhowfulfilledwe
areonadailybasis.


1.Masterconversation;relationships.






Whatareyourgoalsinlife?Tooheavytostartwith?

Okay,sowhatareyourgoalsforthenextweek?Isitwork-related,hobby-related,orjustsocialin
nature?

Whateveryouendupansweringisnottheimportantpart–theimportantpartistherealizationthat
conversationandsmalltalkisgoingtobeintegraltoaccomplishingit.

Ourworldisnotruledbystrictrequirementsandobjectivity,despitewhatwemightliketobelieve.We
don’tliveinanythingremotelyresemblingameritocracy,andtherelationshipsyouareabletocultivate
arereallywhatpropelyouforwardinthislife.

Thus,there’salogicalthreadherethatIfeelobligatedtospellout.

Successrequiresasmanystrongrelationshipsasyoucancreate,andrelationshipsaremadestrong
byconversationthatdelvesdeepandallowstwopeopletoactuallyconnect.

Atitsbest,itallowspeopletodropallpretense,becomevulnerable,andrelatetoeachotherinwaysthey
neverthoughtpossible.Thisengenderslove,friends,business,andaccomplishments.

Beyondthebenefitsthatbecomingastrongconversationalistwillgiveyou,it’sjustanecessity.Youjust
can’tavoidsocialandinterpersonalinteractionunlessyoudecidetobecomeashut-in…buteventhen,
youhavetooccasionallyorderfoodoropenthedoorforthedeliveryman.

Unsurprisingly,mostpeoplearenotnaturalsatconversationandsocialskillsingeneral.Whenyouwalk
awayfromaninteractionthinkingsomeonewasawkwardormadeyouuncomfortable,that’stheexact
indicator.We’reneverexplicitlytrainedinthesethingsthewayweareingeometry,geography,andthe
capitalsofeverystateinthecountry.

Gee,Iwonderwhichoneisactuallymoreusefulintherealworld?

Peoplealsohavevariousinternalanxietiesandmentalblocksthatmightpreventthemfromsuccessfully
engagingpeopleinconversationonaregularbasis.

Regardlessofthepaththatledyoutothispointofwantinghelpandimprovement,restassuredand
comfortedthatitwillbeaneasierclimbthanyouthink.Likeanythingthatisnecessary,youmightinvolve
abitofkickingandscreamingasyouleaveyourcomfortzones,buttherearesomecompellingreasons
todoso.



First,conversationskillsopentrust.

Thefirstmeetingbetweentwopeoplecanbecautiousandtense.Ifyouhavenotbeenintroducedby
friendsandvalidatedbythenetworkeffect,yousimplydon’tknowsomeoneandwhetherornotyoucan
trustthem.Ifthey’llbetrayyouorbenicetoyou.Ifyou’llgetalongorhateeachother.

Thefirstfewmomentsareaquickhazeofattemptingtocollectbasicinformationwithwhichtomakean
informeddecisionabouttrust,openingup,whotobuildrelationshipswith,andwhotoignore.

Initialconversationisaneffectivewayofdetectingeachother'sinterestandmostimportantly,figuringout
whetherwecouldbecomfortablewitheachother.Smalltalkmayseemverysuperficialandrather
innocentbutintermsofinterpersonalrelationships,it'sactuallyaveryimportantfilteringmechanism.It
cangivepeopletheinformationtheyneedwhethertheyplantoletthispersonindeeperintotheirlivesor
holdthematacertaindistance.

Smalltalkandconversationisreallykindofasociallyacceptedgatewayforyoutoletotherpeopleknow
whatyou'reinterestedin,what'simportanttoyou,whatyourpersonalityislike,andyourpersonaltwist
orspinoncommonknowledgeorcurrentevents.

Withrustyornon-existentconversationskills,youruntheriskofbeingperceivedassomeonethatis
untrustworthy,notworthspendingtimewith,orjustawkward.

Second,conversationskillsmakepeoplefeelsafe.

Conversationcanbeasshallowasyouwant.Butdonecorrectly,itmakespeoplefeelcomfortableand
safewithyou,andultimatelytrustyou.

Initialsmalltalkandconversationistypicallyneutralinnature,andaboutharmlesstopicsthatmost
peoplecanagreeon.Anythingelseandit’snotreallysmalltalk,it’sjustabrasiveandoff-puttingin
nature.

Yetstill,thereistheopportunitytoprovidecontextandinformationaboutwhoyouare,whatyourvalues
are,andhowyouconductyourselfsopeoplecanbecomecomfortableandtrustyou.Thissmalltalkisthe
gatewaytofriendships,opportunities,andrelationships.

Whenpeoplefeelsafe,theyreciprocateandattempttodrawyouintotheirsphereofpersonalspace.
They’llsharewithyou,andwhenyouhavetwopeoplesharinginformation,thatisthefoundationoftrust
andintimacy.

Ourtruefriendsarewhowefeellikewillbethereforusthickandthin.Youdon’tgettothatpositionjust
bystandingnexttoeachothersilently,nomatterhowlongyouhavestood.Friendshipsandrelationships
areaseriesofsharedmomentsandconnections,drivenbyconversation.

Ergo,upgradeyourconversationquotientandcapacity,andfindyourselfatthecuspofmanymoredeep
relationshipsandfriendships.




2.Everyonelikesaverbalmirror.







There’sasayingthatessentiallystatesthatthebestwaytoengagepeopleistoletthemtalkabout
themselves.Givethemthespacetoexplaintheirmotivationsandintents,andnoonecanresistthe
temptationoftalkingabouttheirowncleverness.

Comingfromadatecoachingbackground,Icantellyouthatthesameadviceholdstruebecauseithas
thesamegoal.Onadate,it’snotabadruleofthumbtodotheminorityofthetalking,andallowyourdate
totalkaboutthemselvesandtheirthoughts.

Weinnatelyknowthatthishastheeffectofdrivingaconversationbecausepeopleliketotalkabout
themselves.Italsogivestheappearanceofasmooth,flowingconversationbecausebothpeopleare
drivingtheconversationalongandworkingtogetherforasinglepurpose–totalkabouttheother
person.Theendresultisthattheotherpersonwilljustlikeyoumore,becausetheyhaveperceiveda
greatconversationtohavetakenplace.

So…doyoufindyourselfclammingupwhenyoumeetnewpeople?Nervousandanxiouswithothers?

Thenbecomeaverbalmirror.Shinetheconversationbackontotheotherpersonandseeyour
interactionsblossom.

Mostpeoplehaveacertainamountofmentalblocksindealingwithpeoplethattheydon’tknoworhave
justmet.

Buttheywilllovetoengageontopicsthattheyarecomfortableonorexpertson…andwhoisn’tan
expertonthemselves?

Ifthereisanyonethingabouthumannatureyouneedtolearn,peoplelovetotalkaboutthemselves.The
averagepersonnavigatestheworldwiththemselvesasthecenter.Theyprocesstheinformationthe
worldgivesthemfromtheirownpersonalperspective.

Piggybackonthiscommontendencysothattheybasicallydoalltheworkwhenyou'retalkingtothem.
Yourjobistoreadthesignalscarefullysothatyoucanchangethedirectionoftheconversationsothat
theycankeeptalking.Andthefunnythingaboutallofthisisthatthebetteryouareatlisteningtopeople,
themoretheywouldthinkyouareagreatconversationalist.Prettyparadoxical,right?

Conversationstendtosufferasaresultofpeoplefeelingthattheyareinthespotlight.Liketheyare
performing,andwaitingtobejudgedforwhattheysay.Thattheyareinthecenteroftheroomand
everyone’seyesareonthemandmakingthemincrediblyself-conscious.Peopleclamupandthisisthe
exactphenomenonwhenyoujustcan’tthinkofanythingtosaytosomeone.



Thetruthisyou'reagoodconversationalist.Youjustletthepressureofhavingtoperformgetthebestof
you.Thisiswhenanxietyaboutperformingkicksinbecauseyouhaveaveryhumanandcommonplace
fear.Whatfearisthis?Thefearofrejection.Nobodylikestoberejected.Nobodylikestobemadeto
looklikeafool.Buttherealityisthatyoualreadyhavethosegreatsocialskills.

Oneofthebestwaystotrainyourselftodothisistomastertheartofmakingtheotherpersontalk.

Sowhenyoumeetanewpersonandstructureanddirecttheconversationbasedonwhat'simportantto
them,youhaveyourselfaninstantconversation–thebestpartofitisthatthere'snoheavyworkonyour
part.Thereisnoneedforyoutofeelthatyouareperformingbecausetheconversationisallaboutthem,
andtheyfeelthesamewayintalkingaboutsomethingsocomfortabletothemasthemselves.

It'sveryimportantthentofocusonwhatyourjobis.Asimplemindsetshiftcanhelpyouhere.

Yourjobduringconversationsisnottograbthespotlightandcomeupwithsomethingprofound,witty,
intelligent,orfunny.You’renotintheconversationtoteachorpreach.

Dumbitdown!Instead,yourjobistoguidetheconversation.Throwyourselfintherefromtimeto
timetolurethepersondeeperintotheconversation.Theactualcontent,theactualmeatofthe
conversationcanbeprovidedbytheotherperson.

Thebetteryouareatguiding,thesaferyoufeelandthelessanxiousyougetabouttalkingtopeople.
Eventually,asenseofmomentumkicksin,andyoucanprettymuchtalkwithanybodybecausethereality
isregardlessofwhethertheyliveontheothersideoftheplanetorasmallcorneroftheUnitedStates,
everybodyisthesame.Everybodylovestotalkaboutthemselves.

Themorepracticeyouhaveofluringpeopleintalkingaboutacommontopic,toluretheminandhave
thembasicallytakeovertheconversationwithyouguidingthematcertainstages,themoreconfidentand
ateaseyouwouldfeelaroundstrangersandwithanytopic.

Thiscanmeanthedifferencebetweenahigh-performingsalesperson,andsomebodywhocan'tsell
anythingevenifhisorherlifedependedonit.Thiscanalsomeanthedifferencebetweenmeetingthe
personthatyou'redestinedtolivetherestofyourlifewithanddyingalone.Thestakesareprettyhigh.

Greatconversationsreallyareallaboutcallandresponse–peoplecannotresistthecalloftalkingabout
themselves.Firstfocusonthesetopicsandtransferthefeelingandpracticeyougetfromthem.

Keyphrases:

1. Tellmemoreabout____.
2. Oh?Howdidthataffectyou?
3. Howdidyoucomeupwiththat?
4. [Repeatthelastfewwordsofwhattheyjustsaidandtrailoff…]
5. Whydidyouthinkofthat?
6. Whatwasthebestorworstpartofthat?
7. Whydoyouthinkthathappened?





3.Icebreaking,meltingglaciers,andstartingaconversation.








Whenfacedwitharoomfulofpeoplewedon’tknow,it’sathreateningsituationforalmostallofus.How
dowepickonepersonout,engagethem,andbreaktheicewiththem?

It’saninherentlyuncomfortablesituationthatmakesusafishoutofwater.Wedon’twanttodisrupt
peoplethatmightbehavinganicetalkwithsomeoneelse,becauseweknowthatwe’vebeenannoyed
whenrandompeoplehavebutted-in.Wedon’twanttosaythewrongorawkwardthingthatwillstartan
interactionoffonthewrongfoot.

Mostofallwejustdon’twanttoberejected!However,aswithallthingsthathingearoundthefearof
rejection,realizingthatjudgmentisfarlessprevalentthanyouthinkcandowonders.Inotherwords,
onceyoucangetoverthementalblocksofgettingrejectedfromaconversation(which,honestly,doesn’t
happenmuchatall),you’llrealizethatit’sjustamatterofopeningyourmouthanddoingit.

Ofcourse,thereareoptimalwaystodoitsothatyoucanstartoffaninteractionaseasilyaspossible,and
that’swhatI’lltalkabouthere.Almostall(appropriate)icebreakersarewelcome,butnotallicebreakers
arecreatedequally.

Talkaboutwhatyouhaveincommonatthatmoment.

Evenifyou’resomewherethatyou’veneverbeenbeforewithagroupofstrangers,thereareboundtobe
commonalities.Forstarters,you’reallatthesamelocation,aren’tyou?

Socialeventsalwayshavethemesandcommonalitiesthatyoucandrawontoicebreakconversations.If
it’snotabirthdaypartyorcollegereunion,whatistheonereasonthatbroughtthisseeminglyrandom
groupofstrangerstogether?Isitakickballparty?

Itcanbeasbasicasanetworkoffriendsinvitingtheirfriendsandfriendsoffriendstohangoutat
somebody'shouse.Youcantalkaboutthefriendsyouhaveincommon.Youcantalkaboutthefactthatyou
areinthisinterestingnewhouse,andthatyougotinvitedacertainway.

What'simportantisforyoutoclearlyidentifywhatmostpeopleinthatparticularsocialspacehavein
common.Searchdeepandyou’llfindit.Fromthere,youcanbranchintoactualconversationandlearn
aboutwhatmakespeopledifferent.

Tosumitup,startwithabroadcommonality,thennarrowintotheopposite.Focusintopeople’s
specifictraitsafterbreakingtheicewithasharedreality.



Keyphrases:

1. Howdoyouallknowthehost?
2. It’smyfirsttimeatthisbar…isitalwaysthisrowdy?
3. Checkoutthatwalldécor,it’ssofunny.
4. Soeveryonehereplayskickball?Whohasthemostpowerfulleg?
5. Host’shouseissonew,isn’tit?I’msojealous.
6. Wheredoyouthinktheygotthenameforthisbar?
7. Whydoyouthinkthatguyoverthereisn’twearingshoes?

Leadtheconversationtothemafterbreakingtheice.

Recallinthepreciouschapterthateveryonelikesaverbalmirror.Theremaybenogreaterpleasurethan
talkingaboutourselvesandexplainingindetailourmotivationsinourdailylives.

Alsorecallthatthisopenspeopleup,andmakesthemperceiveyouasafriendevenifyoujustmet.Ifyou
canprobepeopleaboutthemselvesandfindatopicrelatingtothemselves,youcanencouragethemto
strayontothattangent.

Onceyouidentifythat,keepdwellingonitsothattheycanbasicallytalkmoreandmoreaboutthat
particulartopic.Thegoalhereisasmoothtransitionfromyouricebreakerintoaconversationwithactual
substanceandconnection.

Aruleofthumbhereisthatyouwillprobablyberequiredtodo75%oftheleadingandtalkingatthe
beginningofaninteraction.Youwillneedtofillthesilencesyourself.

Samplequestionchain:

1. Didyouseethatcowheadmountedonthewall?Thisplaceiscrazy!
2. I’veonlyseensomethinglikethatinTexasbefore,haveyoubeen?
3. Oh,wherewereyouborn?
4. NewYorkdefinitelydoesn’thavecowslikethat.Whydidyoumovehere?
5. I’veheardthattheagriculturejobmarketisstronghere,butIneverknewexactlywhatthatmeant.
Whatexactlydoyoudowithinit?
6. Soitsoundslikeajobthatprovidesanicelevelofwork-lifebalance.Isthatwhatyouwere
lookingfor?
7. Great!Where’syournextvacation?IjustwenttoThailandandhighlyrecommendit.

Fromageneralobservationofthedécor,toaskingaboutwheresomeoneoriginatedfrom,todeeper
motivationsanddesiresinashortseriesofquestions.

Avoidcontroversy.

WhileIdon’tgenerallytellpeopletospoutgeneralitiesliketheweather,thereisatimeandplacefor
conveyingyouropinionandstandingoutabovethefold.

Icebreakerswithpeoplethatyoudonotknowarehardlytheplaceforthat.Youropinionscanoftenbe


polarizing,whichisnotanegativething.Butgiventhatyourgoalhereissimplytobeginaninteraction
andmakethemcomfortablewithtalkingtoyou,beingtheslightestbitabrasivewon’thelpthatgoal.

Mosttopicscanbetalkedaboutfreely,butwhatmakesthemcontroversialishavingtoostrongofan
opiniononthem,andimmediatelyconveyingthattoothers.

Keepingthegoalinmindofbeginninganinteraction–whathappenswhenyourunacrosssomeonewhose
viewsdon’tlineupwithyours?Youwillbeseenasanenemyoratleastunpleasantperson,asmost
peopleareunabletoseparateacivildisagreementwithpersonalvendetta.

Itdoesn’treallymatterhowyouhandlethesituationofconflictingviews.Whenthishappenswith
someoneyoujustmeet,it’sinstincttowritethemoffbecauseyoudon’tknowaboutthemotherthanthe
factthatyoubuttheadsphilosophically.Ifyoufindyourselfhere,theconversationmightnotbe
salvageable.

Sostayawayfrompotentiallydangeroustopicslikereligion,politics,race,genderpolitics,orother
divisiveissues.Youcanbringthemup,butdon’tofferyouropiniononthemuntilyougaugehowtheother
personreacts,ifatall.

Ifitappearsthatyoumightagreephilosophically,thenfeelfreetoofferyourunfilteredopinion.Butthat
wouldbetheexceptionratherthantherule.

Notedetailsandprovideyourown.

Youmightbedetectingathemethatconversationsrequiresomeeffortandthinkingonyourfeet.Youcan’t
justcoastinaconversationandexpectthatyourautopilotresponseswillproducetheconnectionsthatyou
want.

Takingnoteofdetailsthattheotherpersonprovidesyouwithisaninstanceofwhereyoucan’tcoast,and
youmustactivelybelisteningtotheotherperson.

Mentallycatalogsomeimportantdetailsoraspectsofastorythatappeartoexciteyourconversation
partner,andreturntothoseintimesofdoubtorimpendingsilence.

Bydetails,Imeanliketheirhometown,occupation,hobbies,andotherpersonalinformationtheyhave
divulgedtoyou–thingsthattheycanrelatetoorthatmadetheirfaceslightupwhentheywerebrought
up.

Thisway,youwillalwayshavesomethingtotalkaboutandinstantlyinjectenergybackintothe
conversation…aswellasavoidawkwardlullsandsilences.Youmaynotknowthatmuchaboutthem,but
youshouldbeabletodetectwhatapersonmightbeinterestedinandexcitedaboutwithinafew
minutes.Maintaininterestandfocusbyfocusingonthem.

Onyourside,youshouldreciprocatewithpersonaldetailsandstorieswhenappropriate.Ifyouhavea
personalstorythatrelatestoaperson’sinterestorcontext,itwilldrawthemtoyouandmakethemview
youasapersonwithmoreinherentvalue.



Keyphrases:

1. Wait,you’refromPhiladelphia?Soyou’reabigsportsfan?
2. Didyoumentionearlierthatyouhadseenthismoviebefore?
3. ItoldyouthatI’malsofromPennsylvania,right?
4. Iforgot,didIimaginethatyousaidyouusedtoplaybasketball?
5. Canweholdonasecondandgobacktothefactthatyouusedtoplaybasketballincollege?
6. Ican’tbelievethatwearefromthesametinycountryintheCaribbeans!

Thesephrasesfillanylullorsilenceeasily.





4.Commonquestionsanduncommon,betteranswers.






Whatwasthelastwaythatyougreetedsomeonethatyoucameacross?

Wasitsomevariationof“Hey,”“Howareyou,”or“What’sup?”

Anddidyouactuallylistentoorcarewhattheresponsewasgoingtobe?

No?That’sbecausethesegreetingsandcommonbeginningstoconversationsaresooverusedthattheyare
basicallyinstinct.Theyfadeintonothinganddon’tleaveanyonewithanimpressionwhatsoever.Ifyou
wantaone-linerconversation,wellthat’sprettyeasytoaccomplish.

Obviously,thisisnotourgoalwiththisbook.

Lookatthecommonquestionsandgreetingsthatyou’llbeaskedassoftballs–bywhichImeantheyare
giftsgiventoyoubecausetheyaresoeasytoanswerinuncommonandinterestingways.Startpreparing
andansweringthesequestionswithgreatstoriesandphrases,andyouwillinstantlycaptivatewhoever
youaretalkingto.

Thebestpartaboutthischapter’slessonisthatitissomethingthatyoucanprepareforbeforehand.So
muchofconversationisstressfultousbecauseitdependsonacertainamountofskillandthinkingon
yourfeet–thiscanbedauntingbecauseweoftenimagineourselvesrunningoutofthingstosayand
simplystandingtheredumbfounded.

Ifyoucantakesometimetoprepareanswersandstoriesforsituationsthatyouknowwillcomeupin
eachconversationyoutakepartin,youcaneliminatealargepartofthefear!

AsItouchedonabove,themostcommonconversationstartersaresimplyvariationsof“Howareyou,”or
“What’sup.”Thereisnothingspecialaboutthesequestions,andtheyaresimplywaysthatpeople(1)
acknowledgeyou,and(2)showaninterestinyourlife.

Unfortunately,weroutinelyfailtotakeadvantageoftheopeningsthatwearegivenonhowtoengage
people.Someanswerscanleadtoengagingandentertainingconversations,whilemostsimplycut
conversationshort.

Youaredefinitelyfamiliarwiththelatter.Theydon’taskformoreinformation.Theyrespondandblock
offtheotherperson.“I’mfine,thanks!”“Great.”“Good,you?”“Great!Bye!”

Nothingaboutthatexchangeiscompellingorwillleadtoanykindofconnection.Allconversationkillers
basicallyrevolvearoundgivingabroadyetvagueanswer.



Easysolution–respondwithanswersthatleadtomorequestions.

Ifyouwanttoengagethepersoninadeeperconversation,youcannotgiveananswerthatcutsthemoff.

Whenyougivethiskindofanswer,thisopensuptheconversationinmanydifferentdirections.The
conversationcantalkabouttravelstories.Itcantalkaboutanydiscrepanciesbetweentravelbrochures
andactualtravelexperiences.

Responsesthatleadtomorequestionsaremoreeffectivewhentheystartwithastory.Whensomebody
asksyouaverybroadandoftenbanalquestion,youcanchoosetosay,“I’mgreat,”andjustcutitoff,or
youcanthrowinapersonalstory.WhenyoutellthemthatyoujustgotbackfromRomeorParis,itattracts
theircuriosityandyoucanstartanexchangeoftravelstories,whichcanleadtomanydifferenttangents.

Youhavetostartwithyourstorybecauseitmakestheconversationmorepersonal.Thisdrawsthemin.
Whenthey’redrawnin,theystartthrowingintheirstory,andthenyoucanusethattechniquethatI’ve
mentionedearlierofputtingthespotlightonthemifyou’refeelingawkwardoranxious.Youonlyneedto
askfollow-upquestionstodigdeeperintotheirstoryandbasicallytheconversationwilltakealifeofits
own.

Theartofgreatconversationsisnotamystery.It’saboutlookingatthecommonhumanityyouhavewith
thepersonyou’retalkingwithandlettingthestorytakeover.Everybodyhasastory,andhumannatureis
setupinsuchawaythateverybodyisinarushtotelltheirstory.

Aslongasyouknowthesefacts,youcanthenusethemtoyouradvantagetobecomeagreat
conversationalist.



5.Effectivelisteninginthreesteps.






Accordingtoarecentstatistic,mostmarriagesintheUnitedStatesbreakdownnotbecauseofinfidelity
ormoneyissues,butfailuretocommunicate.Whilethismightseemlikea“duh”moment,itstill
underscoresafewveryimportantconceptsaboutourdailylives.

First,theabilitytoengagepeoplemeaningfullyinconversationandhaveitleadsomewhereoccasionally
–asageneralblanketstatement,peoplearen’tgoodatit.Evenwithinthesupposedlysafeconfinesof
marriage,peoplehaveissueswithdifficultconversationsandthethingsthatneedtobesaid.Iwould
assertthatalargepartofthisaversiontomaritalconflictisbecauseofeitherpartner’sinabilitytolisten
effectively.

Second,peopledon’tlistenwell,andthere’smoretolisteningthanjustsittingquietlyandwaitingfor
yourturntospeak.Communicationissuesarisewhenissuesaremiscommunicated…andwhenasafe
spaceisn’tcreatedtoallowgrievancestocometolight.

Third,peoplethinktheyarecommunicatingbutaren’treally.They’resouncomfortablewithallthat
genuineandopencommunicationentailsthattheyonlydiptheirtoesintotheprocess.Thismeansthat
half-messagesaresentallthetime,andnothingiscompletelyunderstoodbecausepeoplejustwanttoend
theprocess.

That’swhybeingagoodlistenerisimportant.

Fortunately,therearethreeeasystepstosetyouonyourpathtobeingagreatlistenerandsubsequently
greatconversationalist.Thisgoesbeyondthestrangersatthecocktailparty–itcanhelpsalvageyour
relationshipwithyoursignificantother.

Stepone:ACTUALLYfocusontheotherspeaker.

Whenyou’relistening,itmeansthatyourmouthiscompletelyshutandthereisnothingcomingoutofyour
mouth.

Moreimportantarethefollowingtwoaspects:(1)youarenotsimplywaitingforyourturntospeakwith
somethingonthetipofyourtongue,and(2)youareactuallyacknowledginganddigestingwhatisbeing
toldtoyou.

Manypeopleliketopridethemselvesasgoodlistenersbasedpurelyonthefactthattheyletpeoplerant
abouttheirlives.Theactofsittingsilentlydoesnotmakeagoodlistener,itjustmeanstheyaregoodat
noddingandsaying“Uh-huh…”Attheendofitall,theonlypersonwhofeelsgoodaboutthatinteraction
isthepersonwhothinkstheyarelisteningwell,becausethespeakerwon’tbegettinganyvaluefromit.



Reallisteningisallaboutfocusingonthespeaker.Thisisveryhardformanypeopletoswallowbecause
mostpeopleareegocentric.Unfortunately,ifthat'showyouhandleyourrelationships,you'renotgoingto
getfar.Ifthat'showyouconductyourselfatwork,youprobablyaren'tgoingtogetpromoted.

Youhavetolearnhowtofocusonthespeaker.Insteadofthinkingaboutyourtrialsandtribulationsand
what'shappeninginyourlife,wrapyourmindinsteadaroundthelifeofsomebodyelse.Wrapyourmind
aroundwhat'simportanttothemandfocuscloselyonthecollectionofideas,emotions,andrevelations
comingfromthespeaker.

Thismayseemeasy,butitisn't.Alotofpeoplethinkthatthey'regoodlistenerswhen,inreality,they're
filtering.Sothepersonistalkingbutthey’reonlylisteningtothethingstheywanttolistento.They'reonly
gettingthemessagethattheywanttoget.Thisisnotreallistening.Reallisteningisarawfeed.

Steptwo:followup.

AsIsaidbefore,effectivelisteningisn’tjustsittingtherequietly.

It’sacknowledgingandtakingwordsin,synthesizingthem,andformulatingspecificfeedbackand
follow-up.

WhatisNOTarealfollow-up?“Uhhuh,”“Oh,Isee,”and“OhmyGod!”

Arealfollow-upquestioniswhenyouputyourselfintheirshoesandtrytounderstandthedetailsthey
havetodealwith.Ifyou'retalkingtosomebodythatjustlosthisjob,putyourselfinthatemotionalstate.

Howwouldyoubefeelingwhenyouhaveyourhomemortgageduethenextmonth,andyoulostyourjob?
Howwouldyoubefeelingwhenyourkidscomehome,andtheyseethattheirdaddydoesn'thaveajob
anymore,right?

That'swhatyourquestionsshouldrevolvearound.Thecenterofgravitymustbeonwhatisimportantto
thespeaker,andtheconversationshouldflowfromthere.Manypeoplethinkthattheyaregood
conversationalistsbecausetheybasicallythinktheyalreadyhavetheanswer.Theseconversationstendto
beone-sidedandultimately,useless.

Byfocusingonthespeakerandpracticingempathy,youcanthenteaseoutinformationthatcouldactually
helpthembecausemostpeople'sproblemsaresolvedbyanswersthatarealreadycontainedwithinthe
question.Youaskfollow-upquestions,youhavetoplaceitfromtheirperspectiveandwhatmattersto
them.

Agreatconversationisajourney,notthedestination.It'snotamadrushtowardsthisfixedanswer
thatdoesn'tchange.Instead,it'sreallyjustabouttheprocessthepersonjustlettingtheiremotionsout,
pickingthroughthedetails,andreallyhavinganotherpersonbetheretosharetheexperience.

Stepthree:fighttheurgetotalkaboutyourself.

MylastbreakuptookamentaltollonmebecauseIhadinvestedsomuchintotherelationship.Despite
thatinvestment,Iknewithadtoendatsomepointandjustcouldn’tseeitculminatinginmarriage.



SoItookthenewstomybestfriendandreallyjustwantedtounleasheverythingthatwasinmyheartand
headatthatpoint.

Whattranspiredwasincrediblyfrustrating.Iwouldtalkabouttheaspectsoftherelationshipthatweren’t
workingforme,andmademereconsidermyentirelifecourse.

Thenshestartedtalkingabouthowshedidthatwithherhusband,andthenhowherhusband’sfamilywent
onatriptoIsraelthatpastsummer.Andthenhowthattripwashorrible,andledtosomefamilydiscord.
Shestolemydamnthunder.

NormallyI’mmorethanawillingear,butthiswasalowmomentformeandshefailedtorecognizethat
sheneededtokickherlisteningmodeintogear.Sheflippedthefocusoftheconversationfrommetoher
inafrustratingseriesofsidethoughtsandthinkingoutloud.

Yourjobistogivethemsafeemotionalspacewheretheycanexploreideas,behonestwithfeelings,and
otherwisecomeupwithasenseofclarity.Youflushallthesedownthetoiletwhenyoutalkoverthemor
switchthefocusoftheconversationtoyourself.

Thisgoesbeyondstealingthethunder,andservestomaketheotherpersonfeelmarginalizedand
unimportant.Reallisteningisaboutthespeakerandnotyou.They’retheoneswhoknowtheanswers
regardingtheirproblemsnotyou.Soit'sreallyimportanttofighttheurgetodominatetheconversation.

Listeningdoesn'ttakeanadvanceddegree,butittakesalotofheart,empathy,andcompassion.


6.Buildingabulletprooffirstimpression.






Whenmeetingsomeonenew,we’veallhadthatmomentof“No,thanks,”rightoffthebat,haven’twe?

Ihave,andIdon’tthinkI’mmorejudgmentalthantheaverageperson.

Thereasonthathappensisbecausethatpersonmadeanegativefirstimpression.Youjustdidn’tlike
their“vibe”ortheirpresence–andthat’sexactlywhatthefirstimpressiongoverns.

Itdoesn’treallymatterwhoyouareorwhatyourgoals.Yousimplyneedtoknowhowtomakeabetter
firstimpression.Weonlygetoneshotatthisuntiltheopportunityisgone.Oncethathappens,everything
elseyoudoorsaywillbeviewedthroughthelensofthatnegativeorlukewarmimpression,andit’sapit
thatisextremelydifficulttoclimboutof.

Thegoodnewsisthatit’snotasdifficultasyoumaythink.

Partofthereasonthatpeoplemakereallybadfirstimpressionsisthattheycomeintoasocialsituation
withalotofanxietyorfear.Ifyougointoasocialsituationlookingtoimpresspeopleorproveapoint,
ninetimesoutoften,you'lldroptheball.

Removethefearofjudgmentfromyourmindandseeyourfirstimpressionssoar.Ofcourse,that’seasier
saidthandone,sointheinterim,asetofbasicguidelinescancoveryourbases.

Makeeyecontact.

Inwesternculture,eyecontactestablishestrustandcredibility.

Accordingly,thelackofeyecontactcanconveymanythings.Itcanmeanthatyou'rebeingevasive,or
havesomethingtohide.Itcanalsoconveythatyouareweakpersonandbasicallylookingtobe
dominated.Thereareallsortsofmeaningsthatpeoplecanreadintoyourinabilitytomakeeyecontact.

Awarenessishalfthebattlehere,aseyecontactisnottypicallyadifficultstepforpeopletointernalize.

Don’tstareintotheireyeslikeyouaretryingtoreadtheirsoul.Thatjustcreepspeopleout.Thisrelates
tomynextpoint.

Smilewithyoureyes.

Asmentionedabove,youhavetomakeeyecontact,butthereareobjectivelybetterwaystodoit.

Thebestandmostcomfortablewaytodoitistosmilewithyoureyes.Youreyesarenotjustdeadpools


orblack,blue,brown,orgreen.

Inotherwords,youreyesarecommunicatingtothepersonyou'relookingatthatpersoniswelcomed.It's
communicatingtothatpersonthatyou'reopenforanexchangeorconversation.

However,ifyoudoitwrong,andyoujustlookatsomebodystraightintheeyewithoutsmilingwithyour
eyes,thiscanbeviewedasachallengeorathreat.Itcanbeviewedasshowingdominance.Notagood
moveifyou'retryingtomakeasaleormeetsomebodynew.

Howdoyousmilewithyoureyes?Liftyoureyebrows(whichmakesyouappearnon-threateningand
empathetic)andcrinkleyoureyesaroundtheedges.Incidentally,theeasiestwaytocrinkleyoureyes
thuslyistogenuinelysmile,sothat’satwoforonetip.

Useanexpressivevoice.

Manypeopledon’tknowit,buttheydon’tconveyanythingclosetowhattheywanttobecausetheydon’t
haveanexpressivevoice.

It’sthedifferencebetweenbeinggoodatsarcasm,andcomingofflikeanassholemostofthetime.

ManyforeignstudentsofEnglishembodythedifference,astheycansayphrasesandwordsfine,but
withoutproperexpressionandinflection.Themeaningfallsflatandsometimesistakentheoppositeway.

Youwanttobeseeninapositivelightimmediatelyuponfirstimpression,soexpresspositivitythrough
yourvoice.Done?

Nowusetentimestheamountofpositivitythatyouthinkyoujustused.Exaggerateit,becausechances
arethatwhatseemslikealottoyouisn’tmuchinreality.

Don’ttakethechanceofbeingmisunderstoodormisconstruedinanegativelight.Practiceyour
expressivevoicetoconveyexactlywhatyouwant.

Focusonyoursimilarities.

Thereisaninherenthumanbiastopeoplewhoaresimilartous.Weopenupbettertopeoplewholook
likeus,soundlikeus,andspeakthesamelanguageasus.

Sowhenyoutalktosomebodynewandwanttomakeagreatfirstimpression,alwayslookforsimilarities
andfocusonthose.Instantly,youwillbeseeninapositivelight,asthepersonwillseethemselvesinyou
–andwhodoesn’tlikethemselves?

Focusingonyoursimilaritieswillmakepeoplelessapprehensiveandopenthemselvestoyouinafar
deepermannerthantheywouldotherwise.It’slikeyouaretheirneighbor,andwhodoesn’twanttoendear
themselvestotheirneighbor?

Reflecttheemotionalcuesofthespeaker.



Wanttomakeagreatfirstimpression?Laughatsomeone’sjokesorcursethetrafficjustastheydo.

Isthisfakeorinsincere?No.

Here’swhy.

You’renotlyingorconveyingsomethingthatyoudon’tfeel,you’rejustincreasingtheamountofsocial
lubricantinasituation.Here’sanotherinterpretation:isn’titcommonsensetoremainsomberwhen
someoneistellingasadstoryandexpressangerwhensomeoneelsewantstorantaboutsomething?

Whenthispersongetstheimpressionthatyougetthemonanemotionallevel,theyarewillingtoletyouin
furtherintermsofemotionalintimacy.

Sendtherightbodylanguagesignals.

Awarenessishalfthebattleonthisone.Youdon’thavetosendbodylanguagesignalsofattractionor
affection,butyouDOhavetoavoidsendingoutnegativeorclosedoffsignals.

Guyswhoareunabletopickupwomenatsingles'barsusuallyfailbecauseofthis.They'remouthsare
sayingonething,theirfaceissayinganother,andtheirbodyissayinganother.Wholecommunication–
yourwords,thewayyousayyourwords,thetoneofyourvoice,yourbodylanguage,andyourfacial
expressions–mustbeconsistent.Don'tsendthewrongbodylanguagesignalsbecauseitsabotagesthe
kindofintimacyandtrustthatyou'retryingtobuild.

Bewareofhowyoucrossyourarms,standorleanbacktoappearstandoffish,yourfacialexpression
whilelistening,howmuchyoucoveryourface,fidget,andwhichdirectionyoupointyourtoesin.They
allcontributetoaconsistentimageofhowengagingapersonyouappeartobe.

Makingagreatfirstimpressionreallyinvolvesbothverbalandnon-verbalsignals.Tosumitallup,you
reallyneedtohaveahighlevelofconsistencysowhateversignalsthatyouaresendingcanleadtohigher
levelsofintimacy,confidence,andtrustandarenotsabotagedbynon-verbalsignals.




7.TellstorieslikeHomerandAesopcombined.






Isthereanyonethatsticksoutinyourmemoryasagreatconversationalist?

Ninetimesoutoften,thereasonwhyyouweresoimpressedbythesepeopleisbecausetheytoldgreat
stories.

Conversationisreallyasetofinterestingremarksandrelatedstories,soit’snowonderthatgreat
storytellingcanmakeyourconversationskillsskyrocket.It’sacornerstoneofhowweactually
communicatewithothers.

Focusonthecentralpointofthestory.

Ifyouwanttobeabetterstoryteller,figureoutthecentralpointofthestorybeforeyoutellit.Whatisthe
centralideayou'retryingtocommunicate?Theclearerthisistoyou,thebetteryouwillcommunicatethat
idea.

Alldetailsmustleadtothiscentralpointandbesomewhatrelated.Ifyouhavetoaskyourselfwhyyou
arementioningthispersonordetail,thenitonlyservestodiluteyourstoryandmessage.Thinkofthe
centralpointasthethesisofthestory–everydetailorpointmustrelatetoit,orprovidecontextforit.

Poorstorytellershaveonethingincommon:theytalkonandonandreallynevergettothepoint.These
storiesareannoyingbecausetheytakeyourattentionandwasteit–youcanwasteminutesonsomebody
thatbasicallydoesn'tknowhowtotellastory.

Thekeytoeffectivestorytellingisthatthedetailsofthestorythatyou'regoingtotellmustleadtothe
centralpoint.

Forexample,youaretellingastoryaboutperformingatanopenmiclastweek.Focusonthedetailsof
thesetting,theperformance,andtheleaduptoit.Talkaboutyourfeelings,andhowmuchyoulike
performing.

Whatisn’trelatedtothecentralpointofthestory?Whereyougotyourguitar,howmuchyourmother
likesyoursinging,andhowbadthecommutewastogetthere.Stayfocused.

Thecentralpointmusthaveanemotionalpayload.

Humanbeingsareemotionalcreatures.We'dliketopretendthatwe'rerational,orwemakeour
decisionsbasedonlogic.

Butninetimesoutoften,wemakeanimpulsiveoremotionaldecisionthenwelateronjustifybycoming


upwithsomesortofrationalexplanation.We'reallemotionalanimalsandthere'snothingwrongwith
that.

Thismeansthatifyou'regoingtotellastory,youhavetomakesurethatthereisanemotionalpayload.
Whenpeoplegettotheendofyourstory,eitherthey'relaughing,they'recrying,they'refeelingangry,or
anyotheremotionalreaction.

Foraneffectivestory,therehastobeanemotionalreactionattheend.Eithertheyfeelupliftedand
enlightened,ortheyfeeloutragedormovedtoaction,ortheirheartshavebeenmovedtopity.

Otherwise,yourstorywillsimplyengenderareactionof“Sowhat?”or“…and?”or“Isthatit?”

Youhavetoensurethatthecentralpointofyourstoryhasanemotionalpayloadorotherpeoplewouldnot
findyourstoryengagingorinteresting.

Paintapicture.

Anyonecantelladryandboringstory.

Allyouhavetodoisdescribewhathappensinsteps.Reduceyourstorydowntoaseriesofactions,
includingaconclusion,andwhatdoyouhave?Astorythatisasgoodasasetofinstructionstodolaundry
with–equallyasthrillingandemotionallymoving.

Greatstoriesarewhenthestorytellerletsyousmellwhatheorshesmellsinthestory.Greatstoriesare
whenthecolorsareveryvividandvibrant.Greatstoriestakeplacewhenthereisalotofsoundand
dynamisminthedetailsoftheoverallnarrative.

Youcantellalousystorywhenthedetailsareflat,whenmanyofthedetailsarerushedthrough,or
otherwisemissing.It'sasifyouarethere.Thebetteryouareinpaintingaverypalpable,vivid,and
reallyengagingstory,thehigherthelikelihoodthatthispersonwouldbeemotionallyengaged.

Greatstorytellersmakegreatfirstimpressionsinsocialsettingsbecausetheyaregreatcommunicators.
Theyareabletohelpustoconnectbetterwithouremotionsandintellect.Greatstorytellersarefewand
farbetween,andthisiswhyyouneedtoreallystepupyourgamesoyoucanmastertheartof
conversation.




8.Makingsafetopicsintofailsafeconversations.






Ifyouwanttomastertheartofconversation,youhavetoknowhowtocomeupwithconversationtopics
thatcanleadtogreatconversation.

Justkidding.

Thisisactuallyuntrueandadamagingmindset,becauseitwillmakeyoudependonthatmagictopicthat
doesn’treallyexist.

Whatisthedefinitionofagreatconversation?Let'skeepitsimple.Agreatconversationisa
conversationthatallowsbothpeopleintheconversationtofeelbetterabouteachother.

Notalltopicsleadtogreatconversations.Sometopicsactuallyleadtodead-endconversationsbecause
they'resoclose-endedandsimple.

Asthetitleofthischaptersays,itisperfectlypossibletotakesafetopicsandtwistthemtoyour
advantage.It’sallamatterofknowinghowtomovebeyondthematerialprovidedandcreatea
connectionregardless.

Therefore,itisperfectlyharmlesstofocusonwhatmightbeotherwisecalledboringsmalltalktopics.
Thebigbenefithereisthatyoucanbringthemupwithanyoneandsomeonewillhavesomethingtosay
aboutthem.Aslongasyoutakeapersonalandemotion-basedangleoffsomethinguniversal,youcan
twistitintoagreatopenertobranchoutintoothertopicsthatcanleadtodeepercredibilityandtrustbuilding.

Weather.

Oneofthesafesttopicstotalkaboutistheweather.

Thereasonwhythisworkstimeandtimeagainisbecauseit'sasharedexperience.Ifyouliveinthepart
oftheUnitedStateswhereitsnowsalot,everybodycanagreethatit'ssnowing.Whatmakesthisan
interestingdiscussionpointisthateverybodyhasadifferentspinontheweatherandwhatitmeansto
them.Forexample,ifsomebodywascaughtinasnowstormonhiswaytotheBahamas,that'sagreat
gatewayforagreatconversationaboutvacations.

Anotherwaythiscanleadtoconversationiswhensomebodytalksaboutthehumidityintheirhouse
leadingtomildewthatleadstohomerepair.Thiscanbeagreatwaytotransitionfromtalkingaboutthe
weathertodo-it-yourselfconstructionprojectsaroundthehouse.

Weatherisagreatstartingareaorstagingareawhereitcanbranchouttootherpersonalareasthatyou


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