Time to get rid of the small talk.
By Marcel Schwantes Founder and Chief Human Officer, Leadership From the Core
Tired of showing up to those networking events or cocktail parties because your brain has already decided it's going to be a drag being asked the same dumb questions and exchanging fake smiles?
To reinvent your networking routine so that others are attracted to you like flies to a sticky trap, stop showing up with the expectation of getting something from them. Here are three key actions of the best conversationalists that will immediately draw others to you.
1. Be intensely curious.
As you meet someone new, it's crucial to find something interesting about the other person, perhaps a fascinating fact or idea that you can follow up on with interesting questions of your own. This means activating the genuine curiosity within you.
Several studies suggest that curious people have better relationships, connect better, and enjoy socializing more. In fact, other people are more easily attracted and feel socially closer to individuals that display curiosity.
George Mason University psychologist Todd Kashdan, author of Curious?, states in Greater Good that "being interested is more important in cultivating a relationship and maintaining a relationship than being interesting; that's what gets the dialogue going. It's the secret juice of relationships."
2. Be a good listener.
Making a good impression is key to kick-start a conversation that works to your advantage, but beware of dominating the conversation early on.
Since people love to talk about themselves, be the one who lets the other person talk first. Why? Talking about ourselves triggers the same sensation of pleasure in the brain as food or money.
Harvard University neuroscientists found the reason: It feels so rewarding to the brain when people self-disclose in a conversation that they can't help sharing their thoughts.
So, by saying little, listening intently, and allowing the other person to have his glory, you will make an excellent impression because people who are liked the most, ironically enough, are the ones who often say the least.
3. Stop asking dumb and uninteresting questions.
Being interesting is about being interested in other people's interesting lives and not asking dumb questions that won't elevate the conversation beyond the dreaded small talk.
It means avoiding boring questions like, 'What do you do?' or ''How are you?' when you don't actually mean it. Also steer clear of the weather and discussing your favorite reality TV show.
You don't learn anything by asking boring and predictable questions and unknowingly make the other person less interesting than he or she truly is.
To counter the effects of a boring conversation from the get-go, be the more interesting person by asking questions like:
- What's the weirdest thing you've ever eaten?
- What's on your bucket list? (ask a follow-up question about how you can help them accomplish it).
- What new skill are you learning?
- What's your personality type?
- What's your calling or purpose in life?
By taking the initiative and making the conversation about the other person, this selfless act of shining the spotlight on someone else first gives you the edge -- making you the more interesting person in the room.