I spent a social evening in the company of people I didn’t know and wasn’t doing business with. The only thing I had in common with the 30+ people invited was that I also knew the host and hostess. This was an odd situation for me to be in, not just because I was attending a cocktail party without my husband who is out of the country on business, but because most of the folks were significantly older and retired with very different interests than my own. I didn’t know anyone else in the room (beyond the hosts). It wasn’t a business networking event. There would be no iPhone Bump or tweeting. I was totally out of my element.
I wanted to be a good guest though so I’d approach couples to say hello and introduce myself. It was fascinating. It was easy to talk with some people and some, not so much. What did the engaging people do?
They didn’t talk about themselves other than to find commonality. They’d ask questions before dumping information.
They worked hard to find shared viewpoints that could be expanded.
They asked people what they thought and truly listened to their answers.
They used humor to lighten their conversation.
They told quick, short, appropriate stories (not the long-winded, how-do-I-find-the-nearest-exit variety).
They talked positively about the event, the evening, the people we knew in common.
They’d go out of their way to help people feel included in the conversation.
They cared more about the other person’s story than about telling their own.
Great lessons for any conversation or presentation, me thinks.