Conversation Habits

Although I love my personality - I think scientifically, theoretically, logically, and systemically - when I'm with people who don't appreciate those traits, I can leave a bad impression. How I act does, and should, depend on who I'm with. When I'm not mindful of my outward behavior, I can come off cold, annoying, shy, mad, anxious, tired, etc. which is problematic when I want to make a good impression with a potential employer, professor, or new group of peers. There are a few things I've figured out of which to be mindful when talking with people you want to impress. It's not an exhaustive guide so much as a primer to make you aware of these things which are not so obvious if you've never heard this advice before.

Come in with High Energy


High energy can be annoying when you're trying to have a serious conversation with someone, but it's the best way to open up a conversation. What does high energy entail? Smile like an idiot. Laugh hysterically at even the dumbest jokes. Move your body a lot by gesticulating, shaking when you laugh, patting the others on their shoulder or back, or pretending you're playing charades when you're telling stories.

High energy behavior let's the other people know that you're excited to be there, makes you actually feel excited to be there, and brings up the others' energy levels, which feels good for them.

Sometimes people can act high energy in inappropriate ways, however, so take caution. Don't look around wildly, like you're the subject of a manhunt. Don't fidget, rub your face, or bite your fingernails. All these things, while high energy, convey a sense of anxiety, rather than positive excitement.

Down-talk


By down-talking, I don't mean talking down to people, as in condescending. What I mean is: shift the tone of your voice down at the end of each sentence. Practice it in the shower, because it's kind of hard, but it will make you sound respectable and confident. Radio personalities and news anchors all down-talk. Once you get the hang of it, it gets a lot easier and becomes second nature.

Down-talk is opposed to up-talk, which makes you sound anxious and needy, and mono-talk, which makes you sound boring. The extreme case of up-talking is the valley girl/squeaky toy dialect, where every single thing they say sounds like a question.

Challenge


If someone says something you disagree with, challenge it. This makes you seem confident and interesting, but it's also a mine-field. If you challenge someone on something they said about you, you may come off as defensive, which makes you seem like you have low self-esteem. If you challenge them on grammar, diction, or a trivial fact, you'll come off as nitpicky and bothersome. If you challenge them on politics or another topic that can invoke a lot of passion, be ready to have your ears boxed. If you challenge them on how they felt about something they experienced, when they're just trying to seek some empathy and comfort, you'll come off as know-it-all and emotionally unavailable.

So with all these potential mistakes, what can you challenge someone on? Anything playful is up for grabs. If you're talking about how you're going to go half-sies on a private island, feel free to argue over whether you want one off the coast of Ecuador or one in the Caribbean. If someone asks you for your opinion of two options, make up a third. There are a lot more good ways to challenge someone than dangerous ways, and the worst that happens is you learn from your mistakes, so don't be afraid to experiment with how you challenge people. I said it was a mine-field, but it's more like a blackberry bush with some thorns to watch out for.

Eye Contact. Eye Contact. Eye Contact.


This is self-explanatory and you've heard it a million times. Look people in the goddamn eye! Not at the bridge of their nose, not at their mouth, not at their shoes, or yours, or your fingernails. Just look them in the eye. It's easy to forget, granted, but it's also easy to do.

End on a Good Note


People base their analysis of you on the first thing they see you do, the most emotionally intense point of the conversation, and the departure. Give a firm handshake, whether you're male or female, smile, and leave with a joke related to what you talked about, no matter how inane the conversation or stupid your joke. This gives them a chance to laugh and it tells them that you were listening.

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I wrote up the scripts for my first two video blog posts yesterday. I'll try to prep, set the equipment up, film, edit, and upload within about a week, but I've got a busy week ahead, so don't hold your breath. Call it one week soft deadline, two weeks most-likely, one month hard deadline.