How to Be a More Interesting Conversationalist
4 simple steps for better communication
People typically shut down when someone talks for more than 40 seconds. I’d recently read that from Mark Goulston, author of Just Listen, and this past weekend I had a firsthand experience of it.
My houseguest, someone I didn’t know very well, turned out to be quite the talker. As we sat together after dinner his verbal stream of consciousness washed over me, and I wondered when he might pause to take a breath. He didn’t.
I felt myself shutting down, losing interest not just in listening to him but also in saying anything. The nonstop talking continued at breakfast the next morning and into the afternoon activities. Not one question did he ask of me. Not surprisingly, I didn’t feel any meaningful connection with him when we said our goodbyes later that day.
The History of Mind-Numbing Chitchat
How ‘How are you?’ (and other meaningless phrases) came to dominate conversations everywhere
A month earlier, I had quite a different experience when a business acquaintance introduced me to someone she thought I might get along with. He and I had an hour-long Zoom call, a delightful exchange about our personal and professional lives. We learned about each other — he asked great questions, listened without interrupting, and I did the same. The hour flew by, and we agreed to have another call. I hung up the phone thinking, Great guy. Be happy to chat with him again. We made a good connection and created a warm friendship.
Good conversation is like great sex — everyone has fun and wants more.
When people talk too much, you only get to know the part of themselves they’re speaking about, which may or may not interest you. They certainly don’t get to know you. As a result, no meaningful bond is formed, and why would you look forward to another interaction?
Talking too much is not attractive or socially polite. At its worst, it can be rude, narcissistic, and damaging to your credibility.