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Friday, June 15, 2012

Learn to Talk about Other Things

Christians are boring. Not all the time, but too often. Church-goers talk about churchy-stuff to other church-goers. Boring.

It’s no different from going to an accounting convention (no disrespect to accountants). They stand around talking about accounting and it’s boring to anyone who’s not an accountant.

Remember that time when you met someone and they liked the things that you like? They’d seen the same movies. They laughed at the same TV shows. They liked the same sports teams. They had the same hobbies. It was great, I’d bet. It’s fun to talk about what you love with other people who love the same thing.

If you can’t talk about what you love with someone else who loves it, the next best thing is to talk about what you love to someone who’s interested. So, be interested in what other people love. If they love books, learn to talk about  books. If they love golf or fishing or cooking or travel, then learn to talk about that.

It might sound difficult to become an expert on every topic of conversation. It is. That’s impossible. But there’s a trick. Ask questions.

Questions are the key to any conversation. Learn how to ask good questions that draw people out instead of shutting them off.

You: Hi, nice to meet you.
Them: Hello.
You: So, how do you spend your week? (note: this doesn’t assume they have a job, so it’s good for people in school or moms who stay home).
Them: Oh, I’m a schematic engineer at Flondorian and Associates.
You: Huh! I don’t think I’ve heard of them. What does that mean?
Them: Well it means I . . . (I’m not going to go into too much of this, just enough so you get the idea).
You: Wow. That sounds complicated. How did you get into it?
Them: [History, School, etc.]
You: Oh, you went to school in [place] what was that like?
Them: [more history, experiences]
You: Wow I’ve always wanted to [experience] what gave you the nerve to do it?
Them: [more history, emotions, thoughts]
You: I never thought of it that way. That’s a really good point. (people like to be complimented – whenever you can offer a sincere compliment, do it).
Them: [connected thought, more history/experience]
You: How does that affect what you’re doing now?

I won’t belabor the point, but you should be able to see how questions can keep a conversation going and focused on what the other person is passionate about. You don’t have to be an expert in schematic engineering (whatever that is), but they are, so you can keep asking questions about it.

Our tendency is to be selfish and talk about the topics we already know (and love), but that limits the people we can connect with to our limited experience. If you want the chance to be friends with more people, you’ll need to learn how to have conversations about other topics than just what you already know. Asking questions will make it possible.

Come up with a list of ten questions that are good conversation continuers (not starters).

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