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Give People Something to Talk About!

My husband and I tried an experiment one night. We were invited to a dinner party with three other couples we didn't know. What we did know is that we were all around the same age. We also knew what we were having for dinner. The purpose of the dinner party was to have an opportunity to meet new people and make new friends.

That evening as we were heading to the party, we decided to try a communication experiment: we agreed that our role that evening was to ask questions to keep the conversation rolling. You know those 7-minute lulls that occur in conversation? Rather than to allow those lulls and to keep the conversation interesting we'd simply ask questions.

The dinner party lasted two and a half hours. During our time together, my husband and I simply kept the conversation going by asking various members at the table what their interests were, where they'd been on their last vacation, what pets they had as children, describe a memorable experience from their childhood, etc. The mood of the evening was general, casual conversation. Each time we asked a question of one person, it inspired a flow of conversation from the others along similar lines.

At the end of the evening, when my husband and I were leaving the hosts' home the hosts stopped us at the door to ask a question. They asked: "How did you become such good conversationalists?" We just looked at one another and smiled. The interesting thing about that evening is that we learned a tremendous amount about those six other people, but they learned virtually nothing about us. We had kept the conversation on them and about them, which kept them talking. Consequently, they thought we were amazing!

If you want to get a conversation going with people, talk to them about their favorite subjects-themselves. Most people get the sense they are never fully listened to. We can increase the level of respect we show them and show that we care about them individually by getting them talking about themselves, their interests, their thoughts, their desires. When we do that, not only are we gathering information about the people; we are also putting their needs before our own-a huge sign of respect.

Practice with Conversations at Work

Think about that in terms of your professionalism. If you can discover the needs, wants, and desires of your internal and external clients, you can help to fulfill those needs. When their needs are fulfilled they are generally more cooperative and more productive workers. Your goal, however, cannot be to feign interest in them in order to get more work out of them. People see through that false interest in a heartbeat.

Instead, practice putting the conversations of others ahead of your own just for the sake of showing and giving respect. That in itself is enough of a reason to allow others to speak fully and completely about their topics of interest. When they are allowed that gift, you will benefit from the relationship. You will be learning the value of giving the gift of listening to others, which results in improved rapport.

About the Author:

Dr. Tracy Peterson Turner works with organizations that want to turn their managers into leaders and with leaders who want to get their messages heard. She is an expert in both written and verbal communication and conducts presentations and workshops to help individuals and corporations meet their communication goals.

Visit Tracy on the web at Email her at

© Athifea Distribution LLC - 2013