How to talk to anyone

By  Engr.  Carlos V. Cornejo

Here are some insights on a good book entitled “How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships” by Leil Lowdes that gives us a number of tips in managing that chat with someone whom we’ve just met and keep that conversation interesting and engaging.   According to the author one way to reduce conversation anxiety is to view a conversation like a friendly game of ping‐pong – serve up a comment or a question your conversation partner can hit, and then keep the rally going.  And so, the next time you serve a conversation with a new guy or gal, remember the acronym W.I.T for We, It and They.

Option 1:  Start with the “We” or “Us” comment.

If you’re waiting for a keynote speaker at a conference, you could turn to the person next to you and say, “I hear she’s a great speaker, we are in for a treat.” If you’re at a workshop, turn to the person seated next to you and say, “I wonder what they’ll have us do?” Author Leil Lowndes says, “When you prematurely say we or us, even to strangers, it subconsciously brings them closer. It subliminally hints you are already friends.” Since a “we” or “us” comment makes the person you have just met, feel like you are already friends and they will casually respond to your comment and get a conversation started.  The “we” or “us” word will likewise make the other party feel he or she is not isolated and lonely since someone is new in that place too and having the same experience.

Option 2:  Start with an “It” question.  “It” being the big news of the day.

Find an “it” before attending a social gathering by quickly browsing the latest news on your phone and finding a compelling story the people at a party, meeting, or conference will enjoy talking about. If you’re going to a party where there will be many basketball enthusiasts, browse or for the latest news on game results and other updates.

If you’re about to attend a party where people are likely to talk politics, catch up with what the latest policy the government is implementing.  With an “IT” in mind, you can then initiate conversations by saying, “Have you heard about…?” or “What do you think of…?” After asking either question, the person you’re asking will either be eager to give their opinion or not be informed and want to know more.

Option 3: Start with a “They told me…” ‐ “they” being the host of the party or someone you and the new fellow know.

“They told me…” might be, “Bob told me you’re you are into art.” Or “Janice told me you’re a huge Ginebra fan.” Before attending a social gathering, ask your friends about the people attending the event. Remember the acronym H.I.P. (hobbies, interest, and profession): Who has interesting hobbies? Who has similar interests with you? Who has an interesting profession? When you deliver a “He or she told me…” you imply to the person you have a common friend that signals ease in getting familiar with you and increase the willingness to talk.  And an alternative to option 3 if you can’t get anyone to give you a background of the person whom you are going to strike a conversation with, is to start with the question, “What are you busy with right now?” which is a better question to “What do you do?”  because they might not like their profession but instead want to talk about their hobby.

And a final tip to make the other party talk more is to parrot back words they’ve said.  For example, after asking someone how they have spent most of their time at a conference, they might say, “I went to a half‐day workshop. It was great!” At which point you could say, “Half‐day workshop?” or “I’ve heard good things about that workshop.” Or you could simply parrot back the last word and say, “What made it great?”

People are eager to talk about themselves, a good conversationalist is someone who gives them the floor and let them say their piece but not just doing it as a conversation technique but really have interest on them as a person and on the story that they talk about themselves.