The NO 1 most common mistake in conversation is this:
Okay so you’re at a dinner party, you looking around to find your appointed seat, so walk around the dinning table and until you spot a plate with a little peice of paper stating your name, but next to were you are supposed to sit – sits a very attractive person. You are walking up from behind so the person sitting their haven’t really noticed you yet, you want to introduce yourself so you start the interaction by touching that person on the shoulder, with the outside of you hand, they turn their head around and you introduce yourselfs while shaking their hand. You sit down in your assigned seat and start a conversation with this person:
Here is how it goes…
|Here is what you are saying||The actual meaning||Here is what they are answering|
|Hi, How are you?||You might as well have said: Hey, please give me your number 1 boring standard answer.||Great thanks – How are you?|
|I’m fine, thanks for asking||Okay this is easy, so let keep on talking about bullshit|
|Hmm I havnt seen you before, im wondering who you know at this dinner party?So, Where do you live?That sound interesting, where have you gone to school?What do you do for a living?What are your hobbies?What are you favorite movie?bla bla bla||Yes, I am a boring unoriginal mother fucker, please be boring and unoriginal with me again and again, and again.||Bla bla bla – & what/how about you?|
Okay the scripted conversational examples above might not seem a 100 % realistic, and hopefully its not, but I hope you get my drift here – my pont is that the conversation example should come across as a “standard” small talk conversation between to people that don’t know each other that well, and thus the conversation between them are generated by their standard small talk question, and thus it leads the conversation down the same road as all other conversation like this – towards nowhere. SO HERE IS MY POINT: Generic (BORING) questions like the one’s above lead to a very generic and boring conversation.
Why are these questions not leading to interesting conversation?
The reason why this way of conversation often leads to nowhere, is because you are leading the conversation towards nowhere. When you ask a person a question you are limiting their answer, in fact you are limiting what they say next, because they have to answer that question.
So if you ask questions about topics that they are not interested in talking about, then you are in fact forcing the conversation in a directing wich they does not find interesting and will thus not be as invested in the conversation as they could be.
Think about it, how interesting do you find it talking about you name, age, where you live, where you work and so on. Im guessing you wont find that really interesting to talk about, so if somebody (like above) asked you about those topics you would probably not be that much into that conversation.
So here is how you get around this conversational mistake:
Avoid Asking BORING Questions. Well since this is a pritty important point, and really a very common mistake, let me just say that just one more time: AVOID ASKING BORING QUESTIONS – THIS ADVICE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT OF THEM ALL. Asking questions, especially if you ask the wrong ones can and will destroy any opportunity for great conversation and interpersonal connections.
This might sound pritty harsh, the fact that I think you should strive to avoid asking question at all, but generally speaking I think questions should be avoided, and here is why:
When you ask a person a questions, that person are to a point forced to answer within the boundaries of the question, the person has to talk about the subject of the question even though its about a topics that they might not find interesting to talk about. Further more, when you make people participate in a conversation by asking them questions you are limiting their response, because any question recall for a specific reply or atleast a reply that lies within the boudaries of the question, and thus you are to a certain extent controling what comes out of their mouth next.
Okay I know this last part might sound a bit arty-farty, but let me give you some examples to explain the point being made here.
- Here is a boring question: Isn’t green just your favorite color?
- Answer: Hmm yes, I like green.
Do the person answering the question really like the color green? Well we don’t really know, because we asked a leading question and thus we got the answer we were applying for. Leading questions leads the conversation in the direction that the “interwiever” want, and thus both people will not be equally interested and invested in the conversation. The one person asking the question is trying to force the conversation out of the other person whit his question, and he person answering the question are not really invested because he or she is kind pressured to talk about a certain topics that they them self did not chose, and thus might not be interested in. This is not a really great fondation for an interesting conversation
- Here is an another boring question: Which of these are your favorite color: Green or Red?
- Answer: Hmm Green, i guess.
Is green really that persons favorite color? Well, we really don’t know, because we asked a closed ended question and thus we can’t trust the answer. This is because of the fact that we only gave the person the option to choose either green or red, so he or she chose green as their favorite color, but in fact pink might have been their real favorite color, or maybe they don’t even have a favorite color. My secound point here, is that this question forces the other person to talk about his or hers favorite color but what are the chances that this person really want to talk about this subject , chances are that they are not that interested in this topic, and thus they will give you an uninvested answer.
What should you be asking?
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could ask them about something you knew they find interested and thus want to answer questions about. Well thats an uphill battle, because its actually almost impossible to know what they are interested in talking about at that exact moment. This is also why questions are so bad for making interesting conversation, because when you ask a question you are choosing both your own and the other persons topic of conversation without having any idea of what they are interested in. When you ask question you are not inviting the other person into sharing whatever he is in the mood for, you are instead locking in the topics of the conversation, you are thus giving the boundaries, the boundaries of your questions.
Here is what you should do, instead of asking question:
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