[originally posted on April 26, 2020]
Last week we talked about listening. This week, we’re talking about, well, talking.
One of the big themes of last week was empathy, primarily centered around just making the other person feel good. When it comes to talking, the goal doesn’t change; if you want people to listen to you, you need to make people feel good.
What you’ll notice from the outset with this one is that talking is a lot more ambiguous and gray than listening. With listening, I could tell you to just smile and nod, and you’d be okay in 99% of situations. With talking, you’re going to hear me say a lot of “do X, but not too much X”. What “too little” or “too much” X are is too difficult to directly spell out, and is something you’re going to have to experiment with as you go along.
The first big piece of talking is quality universal touch, a fancy way of saying “touch people, but don’t touch people too much”. As it turns out, people surprisingly really like to be touched. It goes back to the idea of acknowledgement that we mentioned in the previous newsletter — touching someone makes them feel acknowledged and respected. Obviously, there are some bounds to touching; the best way to do go about figuring out these bounds is by starting off very simple and unobtrusive, like a soft backhand press to the person’s arm. If they don’t like that, it’s probably a good idea to just not touch them at all — however, if they don’t seem to mind, you can continue doing it here and there until you’re both comfortable with the touch. That’s where the quality part comes into play.
The universal part comes in line with the fact that it should be done to everyone you come in contact with. Not only does that save your hide, it also helps you practice with different types of people and figure out who likes what.
Another big piece is to disclose, but don’t disclose too much. People like it when others open up, because this makes them feel more trustworthy. You can start by opening up on smaller, less dramatic things (for example, talking about your favorite bands or a funny story in your life). This disclosure idea really starts to show its potential though when someone else discloses to you first. If you disclose to them something equal in weight to what they have just shared to you, they’ll remember the scene in long-term memory positively, and thus remember you positively as well. Be careful with this, though — disclosing something of lower weight might seem offensive, whereas disclosing something of higher weight might make it seem like you’re trying to make it about you. Remember: talking is all about fine lines!
Finally, you should exaggerate and dramatize — but not too much. People love a good story, and they love a good story told emphatically. Remember; people like to feel good. Laughter, investment, and entertainment are all good feelings. Now with this one, you don’t have to worry as much about going overboard — the whole point is going overboard, and if you overdo it people will simply think you are being silly, rather than be offended like in the previous two.