Sunday, January 08, 2006

Conversations with Larry King

A few weekends ago, I read the well-known Larry King book "How to Talk to Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere" and was fairly impressed. Well, at least by 6 of the 12 chapters. His commonsense advice for better conversations can be summed up as follows:
When looking for someone to have a conversation with, choose someone who looks alert and interested in what's going on around them.

There's a good chance the person you're about to talk to is shy, so you don't need to be! Try to put them at their ease. Never feel inferior or intimidated - everyone's human.

Pay attention to the situation, setting and the person.

Conversation starters for 10:
The weather - a no-brainer.
The situation.
Popular current affairs - everyone has opinions.
Kids/pets - people care a LOT about these things if they have them.

Your job is to find out what they're avid about, what's closest to their heart. Be sincere and curious, aim to learn something from them and you will. And you'll be a more knowledgeable person for it! So, listen. Oh, and don't stay too serious for too long!

Pay attention to the person you're talking to. Lean closer if they seem comfortable with it - it shows you're interested. Look them in the eye - but don't freak them out by staring non-stop!

Listening well (for example, making interested sounds and clarifying what you've understood by rephrasing what they've said) will help you ask better follow-up questions ("the mark of a good conversationalist") based on what you've heard.

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