December 14, 2017
Have you ever been in an awkward situation where you’re at an office party or a networking event and you’re standing next to someone while there’s complete silence because neither of you have any idea on what to talk about? Additionally, you’re worried about how you may be portrayed to this person in your first impression or you’re worried the awkwardness will increase if you ask questions. Meanwhile, your head is thinking “How does he know the host? In what department does he work? Do we work in the same building?”
The good news is that research suggests that people who ask questions are more likeable than people who ask fewer to no questions. In fact, there was an experiment conducted at Harvard where volunteers were assigned to either ask a lot of questions or only ask a few. Once their conversation was completed, each participant rated how likeable the other person was. Through findings, researchers concluded that people who ask fewer questions weren’t as liked as the people who asked plenty more.
Of course, how and what we ask is just as important as the quantity. The Harvard research also suggests that specific follow up questions are the most effective. A good way to approach a follow up question is to:
- Ask a question
- Listen and understand the answer
- Ask a question regarding the answer
Not only does this make you more likeable, but it also shows that you are listening, which is an important trait to have no matter what you are doing. So the next time you are standing next to a person and you don’t know what to talk about, think: questions!
December 22, 2016
This time of year many of us have busy calendars packed with parties, parties, parties. It’s an excellent time to let people know about what you do and how you can help them.
Or is it?
A better approach, instead of launching into an elevator pitch, is to simply sit back and listen to them. Ask them questions. Let them talk.
In other words, practice active listening. This establishes a clear connection between you and whoever you are conversing with. Active listening shows a mutual understanding between both parties in the conversation. The goal is to show that you care and are interested in whatever is being said to you, so start by doing small things such as nodding and repeating some things back to show you understand what was said. And always ask questions!
Not sure where to start? Here are a few questions to help you get the conversation going:
- “How do you spend your time?” is one of my favorites. They have an opportunity to answer it however they see fit: work, family, charity involvement, sports, etc.
- “Where did you go to school?” is another great question. It allows you to learn about their background and gives them a chance to tell their story.
- “How long have you lived in this area?” allows them to speak about their connection to the community.
- “What’s your favorite holiday tradition?” gives them a chance to tell you a personal story you’ll remember.
The idea is: talk less about you, and learn more about them. You’ll be surprised at how easily the conversation flows.
What are some of your best tips to maneuver holiday parties?