Don’t screw up and you’ll be better than most
You’ve been there haven’t you? Maybe it’s a formal or a general conversation where everything starts well. Everyone is getting on just fine and then somehow it starts to unravel because you drop the bundle. You went in with the best of intentions but you did something to get the other person off side and no amount of effort was able to bring them back and allow you to develop what you needed to get the information and engagement that you wanted from them.
You probably didn’t even realise what you had done and now they have lost interest in conversing with you.
These are the 7 easiest ways that people screw up an interview with someone and how not to do them in the first place.
It’s not necessary to know everything, but it’s important to know, at least a general lay of the land of the topics and times of their life. You need at least have some idea of what you will want to discuss with them.
Having a specific agenda
If you’re wanting to get something from them and you’re only concentrating on that agenda, you’re expressing that it is all that you find interesting about them. No one is as shallow as a single topic. You have to earn their respect through engagement with many topics before they may trust you to open up to connect on a specific topic, especially if it’s sensitive.
Unless it’s to go deeper into a topic and even then you should wait for a pause, there is no need to interrupt them. If it’s simply so you can make a point, all you’re showing is that you’re only interested in what you have to say. Shut up.
When you mentally drift off you show yourself that you’re not listening. Then if there is a pause in the conversation for some reason and you can’t pick it up, you show them that you aren’t listening and quickly the contempt they will have for you will be palatable.
This conversation is about them and their opinions. Sure, you may ask some questions or even play devils advocate but if you argue, you’re saying their points aren’t valid and they need to listen to you.
They have taken the time to sit with you and open up. The least you can do is apportion enough time to engage with them. If you rush them your showing that you have more important things you’d rather be doing or you find the conversation tedious.
Similar to not listening loosing interest will be expressed by wandering from the conversation. They’ll notice and quickly not want to bother with you. Make an effort to direct them back to the topics that are interesting. This will make them feel engaged to you but will also make for a more interesting experience to the listener of their Life Story.
Maintaining a high level of consciousness of what is going on in the conversation will prevent you from drifting into a self absorbed attitude and blundering forward with one of these errors. A keen and honest fascination for their life will engage you and help them to open up.
Some people are so sensitive that a conversation can be like walking on broken glass and even with the utmost of care, you may still upset them but if you avoid these errors in your conversations you’ll at least have great engaging conversations with the vast majority of people.
Concentrating on avoiding these issues will quickly identify you as a person that people love to talk to.
Have you had occasions where you screwed up a conversation? Let us know in the comments below.
Update …and if you want a few extra tips about how to deal with local, everyday people look at Doing It Local – by Sean Corcoran. It’s intended for professional journalist but many of the points are relevant to conversations with people in your life also.