The Secret Hiding Behind Every Great Conversation & Social Interaction

Re-posted from:

It was a warm May afternoon in Chicago — maybe the nicest day of the year — and I was strolling along Michigan Avenue when I saw a group of people holding signs that read “Free Intelligent Conversation”.

“What is this? What are you guys all about?!”, I enthusiastically asked the blonde girl with a smile that bordered on a smirk.

She explained that they were a social movement called Free Intelligent Conversation (FreeIC) and are committed to “creating meaningful face-to-face conversations between strangers and breaking social barriers”.

Bam. I was sold.

“Basically, we stand out here every Saturday afternoon and talk to strangers all day”, she summarized, as I stand there nodding excitedly and grinning like an idiot.

I soon began joining the FreeIC crew on Saturdays that summer. I learned more about exciting conversation and raw human interaction that summer than I have my entire life.

This credo, the Free IC philosophy, comes straight from the top: founder Kyle Emile truly lives this ethos.

Kyle is an absolute prince when it comes to good conversation.

And, on top of it, he’s one of the warmest, most genuine people I know.

Kyle recently dropped some serious conversational wisdom on me from his new San Francisco home.

He said that the core of great social interactions comes down to one mindset…

Being A Student Of Other People.

The simple genius of that statement lit me up and made me swear excitedly. Go read it again.

I knew immediately that this was the most important principle in the art of connecting with others.

If I distill everything I’ve written and talked about in the way of conversation, persuasion, selling, public speaking, flirting, and relationships, it all comes down to this idea.

He explained it so lucidly:

If I take the time and treat you like an individual — which is what you deserve to be treated as — and start to understand who you are and what you’re all about, I can’t help but become excited and increasingly more curious about you.”

In short: Giving a damn about someone else’s story breeds curiosity and a conversation that gets more exciting at every turn.

If you’re prone to awkward silences and stilted conversation, this is the best place to start.

For the moment, they are your teacher.

Like a good student, you listen intently to your teacher and seek to understand their perspective. As the teacher, they know more about themselves than you do and you must let them be heard.

And, like any other student, you will not be good at first. You will continue to interrupt, brag, argue, grandstand, bore, and complain. You’re unwiring decades of bad conversational habits — it will take time, after all.

But, it can be easily learned. Here’s how…

Quick Conversational Game Changers You Can Use Today.

Becoming a student of other people is an exercise that takes a lifetime but you can begin today.

The next time you find yourself in a stale interaction or slipping back into your old conversational habits, try these:

More Interesting Dates: After you ask her what she does for a living, ask her why she does it. Is there something else she’d much rather be doing?

Selling More: Instead of telling a client what you can do for them, ask them what is getting in the way of achieving their goals and then you show them how you can help.

Let Them Finish: You always have a witty, self-centered remark already on deck before the other person has finished, don’t you? Instead, wait a few beats after they finish and let the conversation breath. They may have more to say or they may ask, “What do YOU think?”.

Look In The Mirror: We love to show off and tell our story — it’s human. Take a moment to yourself and ask yourself, “What questions am I dying to be asked?”. There’s a good chance everyone else is dying to be asked those same questions, as well. Start there.

This mindset matters as much on a first date as it does in a sales pitch or a fight with your best friend.

This is the mindset you need to live and die by if an interesting social life, successful career, and rich relationships are important to you. Make this your mantra for 2017 and go forth and be curious!