Ever find yourself talking with someone who is draining the life out of the conversation? Are you afraid YOU’RE that person? Or do people tune you out when you’re talking, preferring to check their phone instead? Deedre Daniel of The Interesting Conversations Company guided ASAE attendees through the “7 Deadly Habits” that might send your conversations to the emergency room in an effort to show How to Be More Interesting Than a Cell Phone®:
7 Deadly Habits of Conversations
- The Complainer – This person can’t stop being negative about any topic at hand.
- The Interrupter – There are two kinds of Interrupter. The Hijacker constantly cuts off your conversation at the knees and redirects to other topics that usually revolve around themselves. The Time Hopper skips around topics without allowing anyone else to chime in much, and answers questions you didn’t even ask.
- The Droner – This talker goes on and on (and on), and often brings up dusty topics from the basement of their mind.
- The FOMO-er – They’re always interested in what else is going on besides your conversation. They’re looking at their phone, scanning the room, or leaving your conversation early to go talk to someone they think might be more interesting.
- The Gossiper – They know they shouldn’t bathe in the flaws of other people, but they do it anyway. Their sentences often start with a variation of “I really like them! But [insert flaw here]…”
- The One-Upper – Whatever you do, they’ve done it better. Or know someone who has done it better. They always have to best you and your stories.
- The Researcher – This know-it-all has to prove your statements are incorrect. With smart phone in hand, they’ll Google your assertions no matter how trivial. Accuracy and precision are good things, to be sure, but if you’re simply trying to bond with someone, you’ll force someone’s guard up if you’re constantly trying to prove them wrong.
If you don’t think you’re one of the seven types above, you’re probably a denier, or a daydreamer – everyone commits at least one of these seven deadly conversation sins whether we realize it or not. It’s human nature.
The Interesting Person READS Every Day
But there is hope for becoming a more interesting, fair and pleasant conversationalist! Deedre recommends keeping the acronym READS in mind. The person who is more interesting than a cell phone READS every day:
R: Remove filters
Get rid of any barriers to actively listening to the person talking. Put away your phone. Additionally, be yourself! Remove any figurative masks that conceal who you really are. Be more genuine. Say what you’re thinking – it’s freeing, and it will help you connect better with others.
After you’ve removed such filters, you’ll be much more easily able to emphasize with the other person (or people) in the conversation. Active listening means you’re thinking about them, not yourself, and how you might respond. Empathetic listeners are great at working toward a solution if one is needed, or just being there for the other person.
A: Ask better questions
The tried-and-true question “What do you do?” is rude when you think about it. You’re basically asking how much money someone makes. Before your next networking event, think of a handful of more interesting questions that will make people stop, think, and want to give a thoughtful answer.
Polite debate has lost its way in society, says Deedre, and we need to get people comfortable with the act of debating without getting defensive. It’s fun and healthy to debate other points of view without feeling like it challenges your core sense of self. Come to a conversation with a debate topic that’s lighthearted – such as “Which is better for a human: chocolate or kissing?” – to practice debating without making the debate too personal.
S: Spike the conversation
Know some wacky, but universally interesting, facts that would interest anyone. Fun factoids help others lighten up and dream together. Have follow-up questions related to the fact that keep people thinking and interested.
What do you think about these tips? Do you have a time-tested conversation strategy? Share it with us in the comments!