How should you talk to people?

How should you talk to people?

When I arrange an interview with someone, people usually come to me willingly. They want to reach out to the world and share their thoughts or experiences.

But what do you do in situations where the person themselves is unwilling to interact with you? It takes a special approach, a lot of patience and special questions to get through to a secretive person.

Let’s say you need to find out something. Why is this new guy hanging around the office? And isn’t your teenage son planning to throw a party when you go out of town? These conversations are sometimes like an elaborate dance around a topic of interest to you. Your chances of reaching your goal will be higher if you ask the right questions – and thus build bridges.

You need to know :

  • What’s going on?
  • What is your conversation partner thinking?
  • Are there any contradictions?

People have many reasons to be withdrawn. They may have something to hide or be ashamed of. Be suspicious of you because of your views or because of something that has happened between you in the past. They may be angry, resentful, or think the whole world is against them. They may be secretive by nature. And some are just up to no good.

Bridging questions should encourage people to communicate, even if they don’t want to initially. The principles of building bridging questions are aimed at a single result: to get the person who doesn’t trust you to open up.

Your chances of success will increase if you observe the following conditions.

  1. Know exactly what you want. Clearly define for yourself what you want to know. Do not lose sight of the goal.
  2. Avoid “red flags. Don’t start with accusations or questions that make you immediately defensive. Rather, just try to engage in dialogue.
  3. Don’t accuse, but ask. Start with what’s bothering the other person and try to find out something about it. What seems unfair to him? Then ask about the reasons and motives for his actions.
  4. Demonstrate understanding and support. You want to get frank answers and understand the background of other people’s actions, so you must push the person to discuss. Guide and support him. Offer a reward. For you, the main thing is to get the person talking.

Solving puzzles.

In this chapter I will introduce you to a man whose experience, knowledge and work qualify him as an expert on the most difficult and deafest recesses of human nature. He teaches you how to question truly stubborn and unfriendly interlocutors.

If you’ve ever tried to get answers from someone who is unwilling to be frank, you’ll understand the role these questions play in the conversation:

  • What are your motives?
  • What’s on your mind?
  • Do you pose a danger?

Barry Spodak is an expert in threat assessment. He studies people who are hiding their darkest and most dangerous secrets. He has developed protocols and practices for communicating with potential hitmen, terrorists, school shooters and disgruntled employees.

Barry teaches respectful questioning, which most experts say is the most effective way to persuade a hostile person to cooperate with you and give you some information. They help to lower a person’s defenses and reduce their anxiety. Barry’s questions aim to initiate a dialogue, albeit not quite smooth, but which allows you to establish some trust and thereby obtain information even from uncommunicative interlocutors.

If you remove the extreme conditions and characters of Barry’s interlocutors from this scenario, the technique can be applied quite well when communicating with family, friends and colleagues. Someone is hiding something. Someone is up to something. Someone is not telling you what you need to know. If you use bridge-building questions correctly, you can get these people talking: they’ll open up and you’ll get an idea of what’s on their mind. The first step is to reduce tension.

Barry is a proponent of the psychological theory advanced by Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman that there are two modes of thinking.

The first, Kahneman called System 1, is a kind of lower gear of our brain; it extends to all actions and allows us to easily make decisions and find ready answers. It can be thought of as our brain’s autopilot. If someone asked you what two plus two is, you would automatically, without any mental effort, answer “four.

    In System 1, in what Kahneman calls “cognitive ease,” we feel relaxed, calm, and in control. The person asking the questions can connect with his or her interlocutor in System 1 by asking about the weather or an article of clothing, or even by offering a cup of coffee. This cordial and familiar gesture is soothing.

The brain in System 2 is always on guard. In an unfamiliar or unfriendly environment, this is how it works. We begin to think about every word. What is 435 divided by 9? Did you take my bottle of gin?

This is most likely the state your teenager is in if he thinks you are blaming or judging him. It’s the same state you’re in when your boss speaks ill of you in a performance review. And that’s how almost any suspect reacts to an interrogation.

Barry teaches agents how to get the brains of those they work with to be dominated by System 1 action. He advises his students to start with questions that keep the interlocutor in his comfort zone, even if they are irrelevant. Ask about something ordinary or about events in the person’s life that you know will not arouse any suspicion.

Suppose an agent comes to see a certain Joseph whose name has come up in an investigation. As long as Joseph is considered a source, not a suspect. Upon entering the living room, the agent notices a painting on the wall.

– I like this painting. Who painted it?

Unless the subject of the agent’s investigation is art theft, such a question – sounding like an admission, even a compliment – can help melt the ice. The subject of art allows Joseph to talk about something familiar. As Barry explains, the agent should listen carefully and, if Joseph answers calmly and openly, ask some more questions about the painting to move him into a state of “cognitive ease” in a few minutes of light conversation.

Even those of us who have nothing to do with the intelligence services use this method of conversation, consciously or not. We look for ways to break the ice in the first minutes of acquaintance, we try to strike up a conversation by starting with an easy topic.

Imagine you are the manager of an insurance firm. Anna, one of your employees, comes into your office for her annual performance review. A couple of coworkers complain that she allows herself to speak disparagingly about people behind their backs. You want Anna to stop behaving this way, but you first need to figure out what’s on her mind. She’s wary. You remember seeing a new computer on her desk. You ask:

– And how is your new computer?

“It’s very fast,” she replies. – Never freezes. I should have changed it a long time ago.”

Not much, but you do get Anna to talk.

“Fine,” you reply. – Is the touchscreen comfortable?”

You see Anna’s shoulders relax slightly. She’s not too happy to be here, but at least you’ve learned that she likes her new computer.

You don’t have much time, so you have to move the conversation to the problem. But Barry’s advice is not to rush too much. You don’t want to turn her brain to System 2 so immediately with direct questions. Discuss the computer some more.

– How did you come to the conclusion that you need this particular computer?

A question that begins with “how” requires a different kind of answer — one with some kind of justification and history. Barry explains to his students at the FBI and other intelligence agencies that the human brain likes stories. They help us learn and remember. They spark interest and allow us to share experiences.

Let’s imagine Barry in the boss’s shoes. He pushes back on her answer and asks:

– Is it a popular brand? Do you think a lot of people choose it?

He turns his attention to potential “entry points”: from these he can move the conversation with Anna to the story he wants to hear.

Let’s say she says that a lot of people do choose this model. She’s been researching information about it for a long time so she doesn’t make the wrong choice. That’s how she does everything, carefully and purposefully. That’s where the entry point in her story comes in.

“I use my computer differently. – She says. – I can work more efficiently with it. Better than Al in the credit department, who has a different model.”

Anna draws a line between herself and those around her, Barry explains. By comparing herself to Al in the credit department, Anna provides a clue for the skilled interviewer to grasp. Something sets her apart from the others. It gives the listener an entry point. Barry would be sure to ask:

– Really? What’s up with that Al?

Anna should start telling you how her colleague has recently behaved in some situation, and what other people think about it, and what ended up happening. Her story will give you even more entry points, more opportunities for questions.

For the method to work, you have to listen intently – this will help you formulate further questions so that the story becomes more detailed.

You’re playing a kind of chess game, listening to the answers, formulating questions, and in doing so, thinking through your next moves. Consequently, your questions should be strategic. You know where you want the conversation to go, but you need your opponent’s moves to lead him in that direction, too.

Technique 1. Understanding and Supporting

To keep the speaker talking, stay on topic, and stay in System 1, Barry uses periodic “micro-affirmations. When he hears what he needs or wants to know more about, he expresses interest with almost imperceptible movements, gestures, or sounds. For example, he may move toward the other person, nod slightly, or faintly say “uh-huh. Such micro-affirmations encourage the person to continue without interrupting or distracting him or her. They signal interest and empathy.

As the conversation progresses, Barry often offers “rewards”-small signs of recognition. “Very interesting indeed,” he might say. – I’ve never looked at it from that perspective.” If you give something to people, they become more inclined to give something to you as well.

Technique 2. Questions without question marks

Some questions work better when not marked with a question mark.

– Tell me more. Explain it to me.

These kind of directive questions invite the interlocutor to be quiet, to think, and to remember more details. In essence, with them you are also asking, but not directly. They reflect your interest, and if you ask them in the right tone and your body language demonstrates openness, the interlocutor perceives this as a positive evaluation of his words, which is very important for overcoming barriers. One usually does not see such remarks as threatening.

In my experience as a journalist, I have seen that outside of the standard “question and answer” scheme, the interlocutor breathes easier, as if this technique creates a free and more comfortable space for him or her. In such cases, I put down my pen, lean forward and raise my eyebrows slightly, showing a clear interest. This is my way of letting people know that their story has hooked me and I am very passionate about what I am hearing.

Barry advises replacing questions with statements whenever possible. This technique promotes a freer conversation, especially if someone wants to hide something.

Technique 3. Echo Questions

There’s another way to support the interlocutor, and here you can’t do without question marks. I use the term “echo-questions” for such remarks. They are very simple and I ask them in various interviews. Almost always it makes the interviewees tell more.

In addition, these questions effectively build bridges. By turning the words of my interlocutors into echoing questions, I continue the conversation and set the accents in it, and with my intonation I set the mood – sympathy, surprise, a chuckle – of my remarks.

Henry says, “They treated me in a way that made me want to scream.

You ask your echo question, “Scream?”

Rita says, “I don’t even know why I’m wasting my energy at all. They’re so incompetent in there.”

You say, “Incompetent?”

Most of the time, these echoing one-word questions push people to explain and elaborate more.

Barry teaches this technique as part of what he calls the “reflective listening” method. He explains to his students that they must pay close attention to the words of the interlocutor if they want to pick up his words on the fly. And when it comes to evaluating threats, the stakes are very high.

Echo-questions and reflective listening help to find out what is really behind the interlocutor’s words. They serve as a kind of punctuation marks in a conversation that allows you to highlight an important point or thought in order to move on to further details and discussion.

Conclusion. Build bridges

Bridge-building questions work best when people are in a state of cognitive ease and feel they have an appreciative audience. You can achieve this effect by asking questions (with or without question marks), using your interlocutor’s words, listening to their entry points, and gently supporting their complex or irrational thoughts. You build the bridge brick by brick, question by question. You do this with care, knowing that the bridge is not built in an instant and that you may encounter many difficulties along the way.

How do you learn to be an interesting conversationalist? 116 tips for conversation

Want to be considered an interesting conversationalist and always leave a pleasant impression on those around you? Knowing how to have a conversation will help you in your relationships, career, friendships and life in general. How do you become a good conversationalist in any situation or place?

Knowing how to talk to people will make you an interesting conversationalist and person. And this gives a lot of advantages for life. Communicative people are more likely to succeed in all areas, while the silent ones remain on the sidelines of life.

2. Smile. Look friendly, positive, and open-minded so you can connect faster.

3. The golden rule of morality says, “Treat other people the way you want them to treat you.” But better yet, do according to the platinum rule: “Treat other people the way they want to be treated.”

4. Use the technique of active listening: listen carefully, nod, agree, agree, help with the right phrases and thoughts.

5. Call your interlocutor by name more often, because the sound of a name is very pleasant for any person. So always remember or write down the names of new acquaintances.

6. Take care of your appearance, image and character. The best way to make a conversation is to talk to a neat and stylish person who smells nice and has a nice perfume.

10. 10. Try to present yourself in the best and most presentable way, so that you will like them better.

11. find common interests with your partner in order to find common ground, such as hobbies, interests or dreams.

12. Work on your diction, clarity and beauty of speech.

13. Treat all people with respect. It makes a great impression.

14. Don’t have a formal conversation about the weather or something empty. The person you are talking to immediately stops listening and drifts away. He gets bored.

15. Try not to be annoying in conversation and not to bullshit the other person.

16. Keep your message simple and clear, so that other people don’t think you are being clever.

21. Be prepared for questions at any level, and try to answer them in spite of difficulties.

22. Do not argue aggressively and categorically. Even disagreements can be settled peacefully and calmly. An argument is a careful search for compromise.

23. Use your interlocutor’s answers to continue the conversation on the subject he is interested in.

24. Avoid gossiping and talking badly about other people. Otherwise they will think you are spreading gossip behind their backs.

25. Never interrupt the person you are talking to or insert your “five cents” to tell your own case or story.

30. The important skill of the interlocutor is not only to say what is necessary, but also to keep silent about what is not necessary.

31. Be considerate of your interlocutor and respect his feelings.

32. Observe your interlocutor’s non-verbal signals. Is the person looking at your watch, pulling out your phone, or trying to walk away? It’s time to end the conversation.

33. Avoid special terms when talking to people outside your profession.

34. Lead an active life to be an interesting conversationalist with a story to tell. Try to be a person of peace, global and expansive, with a cosmopolitan outlook. Such people are attractive.

35. Don’t open up too much, especially to someone you don’t know well.

41. Don’t ask too many questions, as if it were an interrogation or an interview.

42. Don’t try to touch on too many topics of conversation, jumping from one to another.

43. Repeat your interlocutor’s body language to demonstrate your similarities.

44. Keep a dozen interesting stories that are appropriate to a particular situation.

45. The best way to win an argument is to avoid it.

51. Don’t tell anything “in confidence” about other people. Such people don’t inspire trust or respect.

52. Let the person you are talking to save your reputation and face if he or she gets into trouble.

53. Willingly and forcefully admit your wrongdoing if it happens to be so.

54. Watch your manners to make a good impression.

55. Give the impression that a person’s mistake is easy to correct and things will get better.

61. Try not to talk about politics, religion, health, and personal life.

62. A sense of humor is the key to the success of a good conversation.

63. Recognize pauses in the conversation, when the interlocutor is waiting for your comment and opinion.

64. Try not to brag in a conversation; it looks ridiculous.

65. Get rid of parasitic words in your speech. How do you recognize them? Tell a story and record it.

71. Control your emotions and facial expressions when talking.

72. Talk about yourself and the events you’ve been involved in. This is usually interesting.

73. Don’t answer a question with a question. It annoys people.

74. Try to avoid coarse flattery. Focus more on the real merits and strengths of your interlocutor.

77. Try to express your opinion only on those subjects in which you know something.

78. Less use of the word “I” in conversation, which shows unconcealed selfishness.

79. Everyone has a unique experience. Let the person teach you something. He will enjoy it.

80. Get more practice talking to people. Visit new places, have conversations with strangers.

81. Touch people sometimes. This allows you to build friendships and warm relationships faster. But it has to be relevant.

82. Don’t show that you’re in a hurry to go somewhere or that you want to end the conversation quickly. This will give the impression of a bad conversationalist and an unpleasant person.

83. Talk about your mistakes first, then cautiously criticize.

84. Don’t draw conclusions for your interlocutor, don’t finish his joke, and don’t guess the continuation of the story.

87. Don’t be afraid to take the initiative in conversation to help a shy person open up.

88. Show respect for someone else’s point of view, and don’t try to smash it.

89. Use self-irony in conversation, but don’t overdo it.

90. Share your thoughts, ideas, and interesting notes with the people around you.

91. Don’t try to elicit personal information and things the person doesn’t want to talk about.

92. If the person criticizes and berates himself, come to his aid. Refute his statements and be supportive.

93. Excessive display of emotion can embarrass the person you are talking to. In conversation, restrain yourself and your emotions.

94. Have your own hobbies and hobbies to share with others.

95. Learn to enjoy your conversations. This positive attitude will create the image of a good conversationalist and a pleasant person.

96. Express yourself more clearly and concisely, so it’s clear what you’re talking about.

97. Don’t use hiccups in your conversation partner’s speech, it can throw him off his train of thought.

98. Ask for advice from someone in a field he knows. This may flatter him.

99. Tell the interlocutor about yourself to show your openness.

100. Don’t dominate the conversation; instead, let the other person direct the conversation.

101. Hide your flaws and negatives. No one is perfect. Show your best side.

102. Do not preach to others or criticize openly.

103. Avoid familiarity, flirtatiousness, and vulgarity in conversation.

104. Take your cue from talented speakers, lecturers and television show hosts.

105. Show sincere empathy for your interlocutor by empathizing with his or her moods and emotions.

106. Praise people for the smallest of achievements and commend successful moves.

107. Maintain eye contact with your interlocutor rather than glancing around.

108. Try to be a real individual, not the fake and counterfeit of which there are so many.

109. Show charisma, smile, laugh, show gestures and emotions.

110. People feel how we relate to them and how we feel. Treat the person you are talking to with warmth and friendliness. Try to show genuine sympathy.

111. End the conversation on a positive note that will leave a favorable impression.

112. Remember the smallest features of conversation or life of the interlocutor, so that you can surprise him later.

113. Point out the positive features and virtues of the person.

114. Be in touch with the person at all times so you can maintain a friendly relationship.

115. Identify the weaknesses of the person you are talking to play on them.

116. Look for the things that most excite and interest the interlocutor.

How do you learn to be an interesting conversationalist? Save your entire list of communication tips and be sure to use them. Be that person with whom a conversation is akin to a fascinating reading of a good book. Then everyone will love you. Do you know how to have entertaining and interesting conversations?

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