How many times have you heard someone say, “I’m so bad with names! It’s a curse!”
That’s the biggest load of $*%! I’ve heard. They didn’t remember because they didn’t care enough to. It’s not a miracle gene that enables one to remember names, it’s a deliberate effort.
To most, our name is the sweetest sound we can hear. Think about what it means when someone remembers your name. It means they spent their precious energy thinking of a way to do so. Recall this notion the next time someone uses your name.
They remembered your name because you’re important to them – not because they have mutant-name-remembering DNA.
Why else you should remember and use their name:
They will feel cared about.
They will be more apt to trust you.
They will automatically like you more.
They will feel they’re important to you.
They will snap to focus and give you their attention.
Note: Names are often challenging to remember. There’s no shame in saying, “I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten your name and I want to make sure I remember it. What is it again?” It signals that you care - not that you’re forgetful.
The conversation won't be much fun for you if they're daydreaming while you're speaking. Casually using their name throughout the conversation is a powerful tool to snap them to focus and keep them engaged. They'll love to hear it and you'll love having their focus.
When was the last time you had a conversation with someone while they gave you their 100% focus for minutes on end? No phones out - no distractions - pure focus. How did it make you feel?
Did you feel important?
Did it make you feel valued?
Did it make you feel cared about?
Maybe you didn’t think anything of it at the time. But take a moment to reflect on it now.
Did it make you feel… like you should reciprocate your attention?
Good. It should have. This is reciprocity. Reciprocity is one of the most incredible phenomenons in human behaviour. When you give something to someone, they’ll feel a burning desire to return the favor.
Think of the powerful implications of this in conversation. Do you find it challenging to maintain the attention of others? My friend, the reality is that most people don’t care what we have to say; they’re too busy focusing on “shiny new objects”.
But reciprocity…. that is how you keep a conversation going… by listening! If there’s one thing that’ll keep a person engaged in conversation, it’s by listening to them talk about themselves.
I like to use to rule of 2:1 [two to one]. Assume that to keep someone focused, you must listen for twice the amount of time you spend talking.
So, on average, if you want 20 seconds of their attention, you must be willing to give them 40 seconds of yours.
The rule of 2:1 is an extremely powerful rapport-building tactic. It blows my mind how short attention spans have become. The rule of 2:1 will differentiate you from others and you’ll have greater success holding their attention.
By listening to them for twice the amount they listen to you, they will feel a burning desire to give you their attention and let you do some talking.
If you started the conversation by talking for minutes on end, you would have lost their attention and never received it again.
This outlook may seem pessimistic, but I promise this is an expected outcome – it’s realistic. I’m a realist. On average, you must first give your attention before you have a hope of getting it from someone else.
Due to the law of reciprocity, when you give them your attention first, they will feel a burning desire to give theirs back in return. However, since the average person's attention span is so short, you should only expect that people will be willing to give you half the focus you're willing to give them. So, on average, for every 20 seconds you'd like them to listen, you must listen to them for 40.
The secret to keeping the conversation going is to keep it exciting for them. Treat them like they are the guests to your conversation. Be a good host. Make it about them. Be unselfish. Give them your full attention. Find a way to get them talking about the things they find exciting.
I promise if you get good at being their host, you’ll have people happily returning for more conversation.
Be genuinely interested in other peoples’ passions… interest… hobbies… dreams… memories… etc… if you ask them about their interests while you intently listen, then you’re going to be one very loved person.
In a perfect world, you would share their love for gardening, and you could get as fired up hearing about their sprouting hydrangeas as them.
Or you could share their thrill by hearing about their 40’ triple-breaker eagle putt that they drained on the 9th hole because you’re an avid golfer too.
In real life, those common passions are rare, so cherish them when you find that connection.
The reality is that every person you talk to isn’t going to share the same passions as you. In this case, you have 2 outcomes:
1) You cut the conversation because you can’t connect with them.
2) You dig deep into their soul until you find what they love to talk about.
Sometimes you have to go with route #1, but route #2 is a fulfilling challenge to take on.
Regardless of how boring you think someone is, there is something they will get excited about if you dig deep enough.
For people we consider “boring”, it can be very challenging to elicit that excitement out of them. You can elicit excitement out of anyone and it’s incredibly rewarding when you’ve practiced enough to accomplish this. People love to have fun, but we see having fun in different ways. Find their version of fun and enjoy it with them.
If you’ve never tried it, ask someone what they’re interested in or what they’re passionate about, and then listen. When they tell you, ask them more questions about it, and then listen more. Repeat this process until they are oozing passion from every pore.
When you ask people deeper questions about what they like doing, they will go into detail if they feel you care enough to know.
When you aren’t interested in what they love to talk about, if you keep an open mind it may get more interesting. An incredible phenomenon occurs when you continue to ask more follow-up questions:
A) Their radiating excitement from your interest will enlighten you.
B) Your interest in their passions will increase the more you ask.
If you let them get excited about what they love, their excitement will bring you joy and fulfillment. The law of reciprocity proves that the more you listen, the more they will be willing to focus on what you have to say. I promise you will get your turn to talk, and they will be much more open to listening when you do.
The BEST way to keep a conversation going is to make it about them. Treat them like they are the guests to your conversation and you're the host. Show genuine interest in them and learn about the things they're excited to share. Exceptional conversationalists are the most avid learners of people and they're the best hosts of the conversation.
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