JS Tip 228: From the Leadership Workshops: Talking to People

Last week, we talked about being curious. About talking with your people about their jobs, their lives, and their interests.

A good friend wrote to us: “The most difficult thing for me, socially speaking, is small talk. I simply don’t know how to do it. I’m so uncomfortable.” A lot of people share our friend’s concern. They’re uncomfortable making conversation.

To those who are uncomfortable making conversation, we suggest you identify a set of questions. Simple, innocuous questions to get the other person talking: 

“Where’re you from? Originally? Born and raised?”

“What was it like growing up there?” 

“What brought you here?”

If you’re a leader, and you’re talking to one of the workers, ask—

“How can we do this better? What can we improve upon?”

“What do we do well? What should we keep doing?”

And listen. Follow up on their comments. Engage. As we said last week, be curious. (This may be the most important part of the conversation. Listen to the ideas. Make eye contact. Nod. Ask follow-up questions.)

But you need questions to begin the conversation. 

Conversation is less a matter of being interesting; it’s more a matter of being interested.  

Next week, we’ll talk about gracefully ending the conversations.

We love this stuff.