A Superstar Conversationalist? Who Me?
Chris Brogan, no shrinking violet, called his blog post 39,000 comments. He said it was the first thing I said. It wasn’t really. I talked about Becky McCray and Darren Rowse, and all of the people who come here. The comments were just what caught his attention.
Then in the comments to that post, Phil Gerbyshak — the all-time relationship geek, not a quiet job — named me a superstar conversationalist.
I hear my older brothers translating . . . kid, they’re saying you can’t shut up.
Seven Secrets of a Superstar Conversationalist
Writing or talking about what we know isn’t a problem for most folks. People don’t ask me how to do that. What they ask is How do you get folks to talk back?
Here are seven of my secrets.
Secret 1. Be an enthusiastic learner.
The words of folks who stand at the podium and talk down to me never sound like conversation. They sound more like a lecture. Who wants to be lectured by an expert? It’s more fun to talk to a friend who knows.
Learners, on the other hand, are magnetically attractive. They’re not intimidating. They offer a subtle invitation to participate. I know if I stick around I might find something I never knew before. Learners ask me questions they really want to know the answer to. When they get an answer, they ask more.
Secret 2 Be imperfectly human.
Don’t finish up every blog post so perfectly that I have no room to answer. Make that list with what you know, but don’t research it to death so that I can’t add to it. I want to talk to you too. Conversation always means you say something. Then I add what I know to it. We do it together.
A conversation is always started, constantly revised, and never finished. We don’t tie our conversations up with a bow and hand them in to our 8th grade teacher. Let’s not do that with our blog posts either.
Secret 3. Be an active listener.
What is a conversation if I’m talking to myself? . . . hearing voices and talking to them? Isn’t that a sign of something?
People are the most important part of any conversation. I listen with every cell. I try to crawl inside the experience they’re relating. I’ve discovered so much about the world and myself, and most of all, the folks who come to visit, by taking the time to listen and answering back. I answer and ask questions to make sure that I understood what I heard. Comments are just like real-life conversation.
Secret 4 Be an easy laugher.
Laughter makes the world turn easier. It gets the chemsitry in our brains going. We type faster and smile when we do. We connect and feel safer when we laugh together. My husband often says to me, “You’re smiling at your computer again.”
Secret 5 Be you.
I make a bad version of you. You make a bad version of me. Somehow we make a perfectly incredible versions of the unique individuals who we are.
Blog your experience. Put your head and heart in what you write. If I tell my authentic truth and myunique view, no one can argue with that. Folks can’t help but respect it — the folks I want to interact with anway.. They want to know they they can tell theirs too. It sounds counterintuitive, but the more a writer tells his or her individual experience, the more people can identify with it.
Secret 6 Be a cheerleader, a bartender, a friend, a host.
Make a place where folks can be who they are. Make it about THEM. Be glad to see them. Be proud of their accomplishments. Have faith in their endeavors. If you care about their lives, they will care too. They’ll also care about yours and each others’. That’s how communities form.
Secret 7 Be nice.
I couldn’t leave that out — could I?
It hardly takes much to be gracious. Communities and conversations really build themselves. We don’t build them. If we stop trying to control them and let people know we’re not afraid to hear what they have to say in respect and honest communication. Amazing thing can truly happen.
I know. 39,000 comments was a long time ago.
I don’t really count comments. I count friends, and who could ever have enough of them?
C’mon let’s talk!
What did you right before you read this post? It had to be more interesting than reading about me.
–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz!!