September 09, 2021

How to Talk to Anyone

It’s time to wave goodbye awkward silences and soul-destroying small talk. We’ve curated our favorite tips from the experts on how to become a master conversationalist.

You wouldn’t be blamed for thinking that interacting with other human beings should be an easy task. After all, we all live on the same planet and experience similar things - so surely we can find something to talk about. Right?

Yet here we are again, staring at a bewildered looking co-worker as we desperately try to muster some form of sentence about something non weather-related. (Particularly after we’ve spent the last 18 months or so in COVID-19-induced isolation). 

quotation marksIt’s about time we finally banish small-talk and start getting to know each other properly.

When time is so precious to us, why shouldn’t we have conversations that we really get something out of, rather than just filling silence?  That’s why we’ve gathered our charismatic communication cohorts to give us some insight into how to properly talk to people. (And if it's public speaking tips you're after, then you can check out our blog post on that too.)

The Charisma Myth - Olivia Fox Cabane

On Uptime

Whoever said that being likeable is a trait we either do or don’t have? Well, it certainly wasn’t Olivia Fox Cabane. In this game-changing book, the author and public speaker posits that anyone can develop a silver tongue. 

quotation marksConsciously or not, charismatic individuals choose specific behaviors that make others feel a certain way. These behaviors can be learned and perfected by anyone.

1. Presence, power and warmth

Olivia Fox Cabane believes that the above three traits are the "essence of charisma". You need to have the presence to hold people’s attention, the power to have gravitas, and the warmth to make people feel valued and comfortable. 

2. Find your ‘charisma style’

There’s no single way to be charismatic; it changes from person to person. So don’t try and force what you believe to be charisma. It should come from within you and be in your own style. 

Staying authentic is half the battle when it comes to exuding charm. Unfortunately, other people will be able to tell if you’re forcing it, faking it, or trying to be someone that you’re not. 

3. Believe in yourself

Unfortunately, it’s very easy for others to subconsciously pick up on any feelings of unworthiness you might be secretly harboring about yourself. Even worse, if you don’t believe in yourself much, others are much less likely to too. 

Self doubt is one of the biggest charisma destroyers around. Couple that with impatience, quick irritability, and you have the ultimate guide of how to become a void of charisma. 

How do we combat this? By working on our internal monologue. When we start working on changing how we view ourselves, we can change how other people view us too.  

Curious to find out how? Explore these lessons in detail in our The Charisma Myth summary on Uptime.

The Fine Art of Small Talk - Debra Fine

On Uptime

In The Fine Art of Small Talk, speaker Debra Fine teaches us how to start, continue, and end conversations with absolute ease. Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, you'll soon be able to talk to anyone.

1. Only you can make the change

Small talk can be difficult, but you’re the only one who can improve your skills. It’s perfectly normal to be afraid of starting conversations with strangers, but there are plenty of things you can do to get better at it. 

2. Ask great questions

Why do strangers often end up talking about the weather? Because it’s an easy fall-back. But do people enjoy talking about the weather? Almost certainly not. Try and break the mold by asking interesting, out-of-the-box questions that will spark good conversation. The other person will most likely appreciate not having to talk about how cloudy it currently is. 

3. The art of active listening

Debra Fine teaches that the big secret to great conversations is simply listening. It’s a small but powerful step towards being in a truly meaningful two-way conversation. Most of the meaning of a conversation is communicated through non-verbal cues, so make sure your body language matches your level of interest and actively listen to your conversation partner. 

To take a deep dive into these lessons, have a look at our The Fine Art of Small Talk summary.

The Art of Witty Banter - Patrick King

On Uptime

Everybody loves a bit of witty banter, writes social interaction specialist and conversation coach Patrick King. That’s why he’s here to help boost your likeability and tap into your inner charisma. 

1. Avoid absolutes

When chatting with someone, avoid questions that can be answered with a simple ‘yes’, ‘no’ or any other singular answer. These types of questions are referred to as “absolute questions”, as opposed to open-ended ones. Open-ended questions offer scope for further conversation whereas absolute questions are conversation killers. 

2. It’s a two-way street

There’s a big difference between being talked to and being talked at. Any one-way conversation is a boring conversation and should be avoided at all costs. Conversations should always be a two-way street, they should be about a topic that both parties have knowledge of and it should be an exchange of ideas and opinions. 

3. Don’t call it a comeback

When you’re in a group conversation, one way to showcase your charisma is to reply with witty responses. Any effective comeback has to be original, quick, and relevant. It’s also important to note that a comeback shouldn’t have the aim to hurt someone’s feelings. If it does include an insult, then exaggerate the insult to such an extent that it sounds ridiculous. This clearly lays out that you’re making a joke and encourages a bit of laughter.

quotation marksPeople like to feel as if they belong. It's a universal desire.

For discover more, have a look at our The Art of Witty Banter summary on Uptime.

The Advice Trap - Michael Bungay Stanier

On Uptime

Somebody coming to you for advice is one of the highest compliments you can receive, as it shows that they trust you and respect your opinion. So, when the occasion next occurs, Michael Bungay Stainier is here to show us how to repay that faith - i.e, by being the best listener we can be.

1. Know yourself

Before we can effectively offer advice to other people, we have to understand ourselves and our own weaknesses. Michael Bungay Stanier believes that there are a number of different monsters fighting inside our minds. It’s our job to identify which one usually takes over so that we can determine what aspects of your personality needs working on. 

2. Practice makes perfect

Offering sage advice is a matter of practise. People aren’t naturally good at giving advice, it’s something they will have worked on and fine-tuned. If you’re trying to figure out if you give good advice, it can be as simple as asking for feedback. Always be ready to welcome criticism and take it on board so you can learn from it. 

3. Be generous

Being generous - both with yourself and other people - is one of the key elements to understanding others' problems. It’s vital to be able to put yourself in their shoes and comprehend where they’re coming from. This will allow you to be far more honest and insightful with your advice. 

Whether you’re looking to get out into the world and meet some new people, or if you’re just happy to chat with your online friends, it’s always handy to have a few tricks up your sleeve for when the opportunity arises. Because honestly, if one more person asks us about the weather…

If any of these hacks have tickled your charismatic curiosity, then be sure to read the full version on Uptime. And if it's tips for improving your relationships you're after, you can have a look at our blog post on that too.

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