A while back, I was introduced to a gentleman, as we had some similar interests that we could discuss. His college aged son was with him and quietly smiled during our conversation. A couple of weeks later, I saw the young man and struck up a brief conversation with him. At the end of the conversation he said, “My dad will be here shortly.” To which I responded, “Okay.”
I went off to attend a meeting and at the conclusion I saw the young man again. He said, “My dad’s over that way.” It was at that point I realized he was under the impression I was trying to speak to his dad.
I made it very clear that I had stopped to speak to him, to speak with him. He looked surprised and then we chatted a little bit more. As we were parting I jokingly said, “See, I didn’t have any ulterior motives.” To which he commented, “That’s nice because most people do.” We both chuckled and parted ways.
A little bit later I got to thinking about the comment he had made. Do a lot of people feel that way about people they talk with? Am I weird? (Okay, don’t answer that!) I seldom think people I’m speaking to have an ulterior motive in mind. Certainly, there are a few awkward times when I wonder, what was that all about, but typically, I believe people are talking to me because they want to talk to me.
I hope that when you are speaking to people you are taking a genuine interest in the discussion. Yes, there is the obligatory small talk type conversation, but typically, if you approach someone for a chat, you should truly want to be talking with them, not using them to get to something, or someone else.
How can you be a genuine conversationalist?
- Pay attention to the person you are talking to
- Be a good listener
- Don’t interrupt
- Ask questions
- Restate what they said for clarification
- Use appropriate body language
- Stay on topic
- If you don’t have to talk to someone, and you don’t want to talk to them… don’t – just sayin’
I received an email recently with a very nice comment in it. “Thank you so much for talking and listening. Your passion and care for others is truly evident.” People appreciate it when they can tell you care about the conversation you are having with them.
Come on folks, be authentic. Don’t give people a reason to think you have an ulterior motive for talking with them.
* Pam & Jim Horton own NewDirection Life Coaching, LLC.