3 Easy Ways to Connect With Everyone
“She listened to him all night and he found her fascinating.”
― Vanna Bonta
Do you remember what your friend told you last week about her boring weekend? If you are like most people, then no.
Do you remember when your friend listened attentively to your heartbreak story? If you are like most people, then yes.
No one remembers what the other part of the conversation talks about. The truth is no one cares. You don’t care about his perfect sunny side up. You don’t care about his cats. You don’t care about where did she go last night. You only care about you, you, and you.
Your feeling is identical to how your interlocutor — the other person in the dialogue— feels when you tell him a story about your back pain. They don’t care either.
If you want to be more likable and interesting, listen more. When you listen, people remember. When you listen, people think you care, regardless of how you really feel. When you listen, you become a good friend.
In a one-on-one conversation, the listener controls the conversation — provided he consciously does it. Unlike a group setting, a listener can direct the conversation’s flow. In other words, the listener has more power than the speaker.
Unfortunately, some stories aren’t engaging enough for us to listen to. Some make us want to kill ourselves.
Should we pretend to be interested? Hell yes, if you think the relationship is important to maintain. Follow these steps, and they won’t know you are pretending to care.
Keep listening; don’t switch the focus to you
This is the hardest for some. Some people can’t shut their mouths for one second.
The tendency of these people is they will immediately switch the conversation’s focus to their stories—a big no-no. If you want to be more likable, you should not try to be likable; you should try to make your interlocutor feels liked and welcomed. Trust me; the feeling will reciprocate.
When they feel appreciated, they will appreciate you. When they appreciate you, the relationship becomes more valuable. Eventually, both parties will reap the benefits.
What if they try to switch the focus to you? Well, receive it and talk sparingly. Some people are trying to be nice by asking about you, although some are genuinely interested.
The easiest way to refocus on them is to ask questions. It can be related to the previous topic they were speaking about. It can be the same question they asked you. It can be a brand new, random topic. Whatever it is, just ask another question.
Probe them with follow-up questions
You can hold a conversation (a real, offline one) going for hours if you want to, and the situation permits. You don’t even have to come up with new, random topics to keep it alive. Just probe them with follow-up questions, and let them lead the way.
If you ask people about one thing, their answer would be limited. If you ask people about their answers, they will go wild.
However, not every question works that way. The questions with “why” and “how” are the best for follow-up questions because it is open-ended.
If you can’t string any questions, just ask, “Why do you think so?” It works 99/100.
Keep eye contact
If you want to insult your interlocutor, avoid eye contact.
It is one of the worst decisions you can make during a conversation. I am not saying that you should establish intense eye contact all the time. Just look at their eyes once in a while. It is enough.
If you are speaking and your interlocutor avoids eye contact, it is likely that he is not interested. Please stop talking at this point. It is annoying. Some people just keep talking even if the signs are clear.
When that happens, go back to square one. Start by shutting your mouth up and ask questions. If they eagerly answer, the conversation can be revived. If not, just go away. Some people are not interested in you, don’t waste your time fixing that.
The art of listening is not when you listen to interesting stories; it is when you look interested even when you listen to boring stories.
If you are interested in the conversation, good.
If you aren’t, follow these steps to pretend that you are. It never hurts to pretend to listen.
- Keep listening; don’t switch the focus to you
- Probe them with follow-up questions
- Keep eye contact