The 10 Commandments of Incredible Conversation (cont)
5. Speak when Spoken to.
Another obvious one. Once again, think back to how many one word answers and mono-syllabic grunts you’ve responded with in your lifetime compilation of failed conversations. This is the verbal equivalent of hanging a ‘closed until further notice’ sign on your face. If you’re afraid of saying something stupid, pause for a second and think of something. Give a signal, put your hand on your chin to show you’re about to respond, distract them by tap dancing, whatever you do try and think of a better response than, ‘Yup.’ If all you can think is ‘yup,’ at least expand it into a full sentence.
6. Speaking too much.
We’ve all been subjected to this at least a thousand times in our lives. That person who unexpectedly launches into a huge soliloquy, not pausing for air, not including anyone, just speaking and speaking until you have no idea what they’re talking about, or why. Another version of this is the person you’ve just asked your dull question, ‘So, what do you do?’ And they tell you! In detail! What could be worse? Keep them interested and involved, if you see their attention waning, spice it up or turn over the reins to them for a while.
7. Speaking too little.
If it seems like you’re walking a conversational tight-rope here, don’t worry – you’re not! This is an extension of tip #5. You’ve spoken more than a grunt, but it was a very bored, distracted, disinterested line of uninspired dialogue. Show a little interest or enthusiasm. If it’s the subject that’s boring you, change the direction with your response. For example, ‘Yeah, socks sure do come in a lot of different colors. But listen, have you ever been thrown out of a moving train?’
8. Introduce yourself.
You’ve engaged in small talk, so far so good. You’ve said hello, made eye contact and sent the message that you’re open, interesting and interested. Before this goes on too long, introduce yourself, and in the process get their name as well. Once you’ve got it, use it. If you can use a name three times you’re guaranteed to remember it. Don’t use it like this though, ‘Well Hello there, Joe. Joe! Joe! Joe!’ If you’re terrible at remembering names try using an association trick. Sue is a lawyer, Rich is Rich, Ian rhymes with screen, which you’ll when he calls. Any trick you can use to remember will be helpful, and the more outrageous the connections you make, the harder they’ll be to forget.
9. Don’t be a Know-It-All.
This is another person we all try and avoid talking to. Be aware of this if you find yourself arguing about minor, insignificant details. If you suddenly realize you’ve been speaking at great length about the physics describing how a cathode ray tube television screen works, you’ve just become that guy…at least if your talking to me.
10. End on a Good note.
This is important if you want to leave a lasting impression. Ending on a cheerful or positive note will do a lot to ensure future conversations. Suddenly breaking off in mid-sentence to go talk to somebody else, or ending with a line such as, ‘Well, I gotta go take a dump.’ or ‘…and after he killed everyone in his family he suddenly turned the gun on himself,’ is not the ideal lingering impression of yourself you should leave behind.