Don’t Be a Conversation Vampire
A conversational vampire is someone who sucks the life out of a conversation, usually with no ill-intent, in typically one of 3 ways:
- talking too much and not letting others participate
- talking too little and forcing others to carry the conversation
- talking about things that are not interesting to others
There is one simple way to address all three issues: be a mind reader!
OK. I suppose that’s not realistic.
But, if you knew what the other person was thinking and feeling, you could adjust your conversation.
You can be a “mind reader” through asking questions, listening for responses and observing body language and facial expressions.
As you are conversing, test how talkative the other person wants to be by asking questions to encourage them to talk. Some people actually do prefer that others talk more and these types of people will sometimes have shorter responses and turn the conversation back to you by asking you a question. Short responses, without a reciprocal question, can mean that a person wants to exit the conversation. Others enjoy having listeners and will go on and on without much prompting. You test the conversational waters to find a balance for the particular person you are talking with.
To avoid being boring by talking about things that people aren’t interested in, try to gauge interest by giving some context for the topic, and asking a question to find out what the other person’s experience is with that topic. It is helpful to have some “go-to” topics that most people are likely to be interested in. My go-to general topics are health & fitness, recent movies, and children/grandchildren. If I’m at an event, I will have event or industry-specific topics, too.
Body language and facial expressions can tell you a lot about interest. When a person makes lots of eye contact, nods in agreement and leans forward, he or she is intensely interested. Looking away, pointing feet away, repetitive body motions (such as tapping fingers), or yawning, in addition to short answers all indicate disinterest.
Pay attention to your conversation partner and don’t be a conversation vampire!