It’s important to make people talk, especially people who work or live together. Sharing thoughts creates personal connection which is very powerful. When we have personal connection with someone or something, we care more about them and we spend more time with them. We give and we take. We build trust. And you know what trust can do.
Before we make people talk, we should learn how to listen first.
Just like babies, they spend a good first year to listen to everything before they speak their very first word. When babies grow up and start talking, they sometimes forget how to listen. Listening is an important part of conversation. We sometimes can have a quiet conversation when no one speaks anything but can still understand each other. But there will be no conversation if no one listens to each other.
How do you like the below conversation? Have you ever been in a similar situation before? I bet many times.
Or this one?
Well, sometimes real life could be trickier than that. But you get the gist. Let’s try something different today and see how it goes.
So how do we make them talk?
Putting people in a room doesn’t mean they would talk. I have organised numerous networking events for hundreds of people. You will assume that if they go there with a purpose of doing networking, they will talk to each other. Wrong! I’ve received lots of feedback that people at those events don’t talk.
Activist Salina Silverman created a movement for this. To her idea, people should have more big talk, and less small talk. We should talk more about stuff we care about, and talk less about weather or sport which I found fair enough. Weather talk is boring to me anyway. I don’t know how to create a meaningful conversation that makes me feel connected to other people with a topic like that.
You might want to check out her card game here for some ideas of how to start a meaningful conversation. Some of the questions are over the top, but some are pretty good to start a meaningful conversation, such as
- What don’t you spend enough time doing?
- What are you looking forward to?
- What are you really good at?
I suggest you create your own deck of questions so you can enjoy the things you like talking about and things you like listening to as well. Some people might not enjoy a philosophical conversation as much as their childhood memories and vice versa. I know a lot of people have started talking about this big talk idea, with different approaches. I think it’s kinda cool.
If you take a closer look at the footer of this website, you will find a section where I show random questions. You can borrow them for your next conversation with someone, or maybe try to answer them yourself first.
Or go here if you are the type of person who like the absolute list of everything. There are heaps of questions to choose from. However, please keep in mind conversation is not just about asking questions. Keep some of your interesting stories at hand to share as well.
How do we keep them talking?
The key is consistency. Lunch table, after hour drinks, coffee with buddy and so on… whatever you do, do it consistently. I like to spend some time around 5.15pm to 5.30pm to come to people, ask how their day was, sharing something I’m working on, asking for their opinion, information, any new books they are reading or play games together. I do it everyday, at the same time. By talking to people I found lots of useful information, inspiration, and loads of fun. We joke, we laugh, we understand each other better.
If you come to share and to connect, people will keep talking.
What’s the downside?
Please keep in mind, talking is a powerful influence, so use it carefully. By saying that, I mean you have to get people to talk positively. Gossip is the kind of talk we want to avoid. We don’t want people to talk behind each other’s backs, we don’t want people to talk ill, or spread out negative energy. It kills.