#083: 5 Strategies for Becoming a Better Conversationalist [Podcast]

Great conversations are a balance of give and take like a ping pong match. You wait for the ball to come over the net, then you hit it back to the person on the other side. Then you do it all over again—and on it goes.

This is an essential leadership skill and one that can be learned with a little practice.

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I certainly have much to learn, but over the years, I have used five strategies in trying to become a better conversationalist. These will work in your professional life and your personal life.

  1. Strategy #1: Listen with your heart.
  2. Strategy #2: Be aware of how much you’re talking.
  3. Strategy #3: Hit the ball back over the net.
  4. Strategy #4: Ask follow-up questions.
  5. Strategy #5: Provide positive feedback.

Your ability to lead is directly tied to your ability to lead powerful conversations. But this isn’t going to happen unless you are genuinely curious and other-centered. Regardless, if you want to increase your influence, you have to perfect the gentle art of conversational ping pong.

Listener Questions

  1. Andrew asked, “What do you do if someone just won’t engage in the conversation or says, ‘I don’t know’?”
  2. Kari asked, “What role does body language play in being a good conversationalist?”
  3. Drew said, “The best advice I’ve been given is to ‘be interested, not interesting. Do you agree with that?”
  4. Lori asked, “How do I handle a co-worker who always interrupts and talks on top of me? It really shuts me down.”
  5. Adam asked, “What’s your single best tip for getting a conversation started? I’m okay once it gets going, but I really struggle in situations where I don’t know anyone, like a trade show mixer.”

Tip of the Week

I am a productivity junky. I am always looking for the edge—something that will save me time and effort in my daily workflows. One of my favorite time-saving apps is called Alfred. It’s Mac-only. (If you are using Windows, you might try Launchy. It looks similar, but I have not tried it.)

Alfred allows you to launch apps, files, website, and more. I also have a bunch of prefixes defined, so, for example, if I precede a search with “mh,” Alfred knows to search my blog. Or if I precede a search with “am,” it knows to search Amazon.

You can also create immensely powerful workflows by connecting keywords, hotkeys and actions together to extend Alfred to do amazing things without writing a single line of code! It’s very powerful.

Special Announcements

  1. I’ve cut back a lot this year on my speaking schedule, but if you would like to see me live:
  2. Registration is now open for the Launch Conference, April 7–10 at the beautiful Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista, located in the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. Whether you are a professional speaker—or just want to be one—this conference will teach you how to start where you are and take your business to the next level.

    Early Bird Registration ends on February 14th. BUT, you can take an additional $200 off the early bird pricing by using the code “HYATT.”

Episode Resources

In this episode I mentioned several resources, including:

Show Transcript

You can download a complete, word-for-word transcript of this episode here, courtesy of Ginger Schell, a professional transcriptionist, who handles all my transcription needs.

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Question: What have you learned about becoming a better conversationalist? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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