How to Navigate a Conversation

Whether you’re at happy hour or in the board room, knowing how to navigate a conversation is going to dictate where you go in life. Whenever you meet someone, especially for the first time, it can be challenging to get the other person to open up to you. More times than not, most people fall victim to common questions such as,

“What do you do?”

“Tell me about your family?”

“Where are you from?”

           Don’t be like everyone else, know how to stand out, and that will separate you from your peers and allow you to unlock your full potential. So, if you’re looking to improve your conversational skills, I have a little secret for you called the “FROG GANG.”

Let’s break it down! 

1.    Family.

I know that I just said this is a common question, such as “Tell me about your family.” But, that doesn’t mean you can’t talk about it! Rather than ask the mainstream question, make sure to dig a little deeper such as.

“If I were to guess, I bet you’re the oldest sibling of your family.”

“Based on our conversation, it seems like someone did a good job of raising you. Is that the case?”

“Did your family teach you these skills, or was this something you learned on your own?”

Now, be careful!!! Not everyone comes from a loving home, so talking about family to some people can be a huge turn-off! If this is the case, don’t shy away from the issue, hit it straight on, and pivot to another subject in a fashionable manner.

My favorite question if I see a wedding or engagement ring on someone’s hand is,

“I see that ring on your finger, how did you meet your significant other?”

2.    Recreation.

Who doesn’t love to talk about the time they won first place in a dance recital or if their football team won the state championship? Everyone, who’s accomplished something, whether it’s sports or extracurricular activities loves to talk about it. So, you might as well bring it up in the discussion!

It’s great to ask questions such as,

“Tell me about your most memorable experience while you were playing ____________.”

This will allow someone to talk about themselves, give you vital information about them, and allow your conversation to come alive!

3.    Occupation.

Especially in America, people’s occupation becomes part of their identity. We spend 1/3 of our lives sleeping, the other 1/3 working, so it’s going to be an important part of someone’s life. This is where you want to avoid asking the age-old question,

“What do you do?”

Rather ask someone a question such as,

“Did you go to college? If so, what did you study?”

And follow up with,

“Are you using your degree in your current profession?”

This is an eloquent way of finding out where someone went to school, what they studied, and leads you into figuring out how they’re using their skills. Who knows? Maybe you ended up going to the same school or studying the same subjects. Which will help your conversation blossom organically.

4.    Goals.

I don’t care who you are, you love to talk about all of your dreams and accomplishments. This is why it’s important to talk to someone about their goals. Perhaps they’re working on breaking their best time in an upcoming 5k race or perhaps they run a company and are about to hit a new milestone.

Regardless of the person, if you get them to start talking about their goals, this will help you turn a cold conversation into a warm one.

 5.    Give Compliments.

When was the last time someone gave you a genuine compliment? You probably can’t remember. This is will be a game changer when it comes to making new connections, especially because you only get one chance at a first impression.

Listen to what someone is talking about and provide them some positive reinforcement. Such as,

“Wow, I bet that made you feel good when you closed that deal!”

“It must take a talented person to be able to perform under that sort of pressure.”

You get the point, it’s so often that our mistakes are pointed out, yet our accomplishments receive little praise.

6.    Ask Questions.

Your best conversations are the ones you talk the least in. As they say, humans are born with 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason. This will be a game changer between making a connection that can help you achieve your goals versus having someone think you just like to talk about yourself.

7.    News.

Bring up current events when talking with someone. Doesn’t have to be the news in particular, but perhaps current events that are going on. Or even better ask someone if they’ve seen a recent show on Netflix or have heard of a book you’re reading.

Rather than talking about yourself, you’re shifting the conversation down a direction that will make someone feel a part of the discussion. Not just you performing a soliloquy.

8.    Gift.

Everyone loves a gift! When you meet someone for the first time you probably don’t have a gift to hand them. You can buy them a drink, or an appetizer. Perhaps you can introduce them to someone to help them in their lives. Whether it’s big or small a gift is a gift!

Your Guide,

Joshua Krafchick

“The Unconventional Money Guy”

Additional Reading to Improve Your Conversations.

  1. 6 Key Steps To Navigate Difficult Conversations.
  2. Trash Your Business Cards.
  3. You Must Speak Your Co-Worker’s Language.

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