Today we’ve got a question about leading conversations:
“I recently got into a new relationship. My partner is a great conversationalist. But I realized when he’s not in the mood for conversation, I don’t know how to lead it. Because I don’t have anything interesting to say, What can I do to solve this?”
Now this came up in the conversation skills and social confidence workshop that we ran the other weekend. There’s a problem where people think connection is a rational process, that you need to think of something good to say. That is engineering type thinking.
However, connections are emotional. There is no problem to solve, just truth to be expressed.
Think of the way we connect with a dog. We never feel too nervous to talk to dogs, like “What’s the right thing to say?” We just say anything that comes to mind, we just let it out and express ourselves. Whatever we’re feeling, we express it to the dog, we don’t think it through or don’t try to ‘solve’ it. And we have that connection with the dog.
Your problem is you’re trying to solve something. It doesn’t need to be solved, it just needs to be expressed. The number one tip I can possibly give you for building connections with people is:
Say it rather than solve it.
If you’re feeling nervous, rather than trying to figure out how to not be nervous, just say, “I’m feeling nervous.”
You’re looking at someone new across the room, you want to meet them. You think “God, I’m so anxious about meeting them, how do I get rid of this? What’s a good thing to say? What’s a good way to start this conversation?” You’re off trying to solve something. Instead, walk up to them and say, “You know what? I’ve been looking at you for two minutes and couldn’t think of something good to say, but I wanted to meet you.”
Just say it. It’s actually a great way to start a conversation.
For the person who wrote in with the particular dilemma of “I don’t know how to lead when he’s in a bad mood,” – instead of thinking how to lead, just say, “You are you’re in one of those moods where I feel like panicky, I don’t know how to lead the conversation.” That’s all you need to say to say -express the thing that’s in your head.
You don’t need something bigger or better than that – in fact, there’s nothing better than that. That’s the most genuine, vulnerable, connecting and courageous thing you could say. Nothing is going to build your relationship with that person more than you saying that truthful thing. Anything else you come up with is going to be less than that.
Connections are emotional, they’re not rational.
Say it – express it – rather than trying to solve it.
Say the thing you don’t want to say because it’s probably the most important thing you could say if you want to build this connection.
On a final note, many people have this issue simply because they’re not okay with silence. You know you don’t have to talk all the time, right?
For a connection, there can be silence and you can connect in that silence. You don’t have to be constantly throwing noises at each other. If you’re uncomfortable with silence, that’s on you. That’s nothing to do with your relationship. That’s your own insecurities, and sitting there in that silence can be something that helps you develop yourself.
I hope you found that helpful. If you want more social confidence tips, get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org