The flip side to not giving instruction because people learn best from their own experience is this:
Help people make use of their experience.
I get teased from time to time that my blog is all about me, me, me. But it isn’t a purely egotistical exercise. Talking about my experiences and what I learned from them is the best way I know to demonstrate my interest and goodwill and to get people reflecting a preferably talking about what their experience has taught them.
Because we’re conditioned not to talk about ourselves. Oh, we want to. But more than talking about ourselves we want the person we’re talking to to think well of us. And so we decide they’re only being polite, and we clam up.
Feed the Spark is just an extension of my cocktail party method of conversation. I talk a bit about myself, put my cards on the table so to speak, in order to convince you that I really do want to hear what you have to say.
This seems to work particularly well on introverts. And the reason it works on introverts is because I ask powerful questions. Question that are meat, that require reflection, that surprise you with things you never knew you thought.
Because introverts aren’t antisocial. They just hate smalltalk. Me too! Total waste of time, except as a method of building rapport or as a segue to a more interesting topic.
So, while I may start out with, “So, what do you do?” or “What do you do with your copious free time?” (this last is always said ironically, because really– free time? What’s that?), one of two things will happen:
- you’ll answer with something I know nothing about, in which case you can teach me and I can learn, or
- you’ll answer with something I do know something about, and then we have something in common. Conversational win, either way.
I MOST love conversations with a really dynamic back + forthing. Active listening is all very well, but I often find that at the end of a conversation where my partner didn’t have much to say, even if I had a few jewels pop out of my mouth, I wish I’d heard more about what the other person thought.
Regardless of whether I’d done my due diligence by trying to draw them out, and by asserting that I realize I’m thrillingly entertaining, but I would like to hear what they think —- I still feel rather hollow, like an opportunity has passed me by.
A dynamic conversation is intoxicating. You feel as though you’ve met your soul-mate —- even it they infuriate you. Whether you’re fighting good-naturedly over a topic you feel passionate about, or you’re excitedly considering the implications of an insight that struck during your conversation, you can make tremendous progress on your ideas and growth simply by being in the ecstatic communion of stimulating conversation.
But maybe that’s just me. Tell me, what’s your favorite type of conversation?