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← Seven ways to make a conversation with anyone | Malavika Varadan | TEDxBITSPilaniDubai


Showing Revision 30 created 09/06/2017 by Peter van de Ven.

  1. Hello, everybody.
  2. I'm going to start with a question.
  3. How many of you know the person
    sitting next to you from before today?
  4. Interesting.
  5. So, do you remember the first conversation
    that you ever had with that person?
  6. You know conversations are links.
  7. Let's imagine every conversation
    to be a tiny metal link.
  8. And every time you talk to a stranger,
  9. a metal link is formed.
  10. And every conversation that you have
    after that moment,
  11. the link gets stronger and stronger.
  12. And every day each one of us
    meets so many strangers:
  13. the grocery guy, the cab guy
  14. maybe the receptionist
    at a new office you went to.
  15. And with every conversation
    we build new links.
  16. Until finally at the end,
  17. we've created a kind of massive
    World Wide Web of conversation.
  18. World Wide Web.
  19. It's a catchy word.
    I think I've heard that somewhere.
  20. That's it, right? A conversation.
    It's a fascinating thing.
  21. A conversation is an adventure.
  22. A conversation gives you
    a whole new perspective.
  23. A conversation opens a door.
  24. Conversations can make war
    and conversations can make peace.
  25. And conversations define
    who we are as a human race.
  26. Think about this.
  27. Every single person in your life
    was once a stranger to you.
  28. And you knew nothing about them
    until you had that first conversation.
  29. So I'm here today to tell you
    to talk to strangers,
  30. to have a conversation.
  31. And I'm here to tell you how.
  32. Seven ways that you can make
    a conversation with almost anyone.
  33. I'm a radio presenter
  34. and I love talking to people.
  35. I do. I love it.
  36. And I'm so glad that I do it for a living.
  37. Here's what my day is like.
  38. Every single morning,
    I go into an empty room,
  39. I put on a mic,
  40. and I have a conversation
    with 1.6 million people ...
  41. that I can't see.
  42. Yeah.
  43. You know what the hardest part is, though?
  44. It's time.
  45. In a four-hour show, I get 20 minutes.
  46. That's all the talk there is.
  47. And in 20 minutes I have to convince you
    that I am your best friend.
  48. How do I do that?
  49. How do I establish a connection?
  50. I have 20 minutes to inform you,
    to excite you, to engage with you
  51. but most importantly,
  52. 20 out of the 20 times
    that I switch on that mic,
  53. I have to leave a smile on your face.
  54. Except, I can't see you,
    I know nothing about you,
  55. and I have no way
    of gauging your reactions.
  56. How do you do it?
    How do you talk to a stranger?
  57. Well, my nine years in radio
    have taught me these simple little tricks.
  58. Strangers,
  59. they are everywhere.
  60. And we've always been told,
    "Don't talk to strangers!"
  61. But I beg to differ.
  62. Every stranger comes with an opportunity,
  63. an opportunity to learn something new,
  64. an opportunity to have an experience
    you've never had
  65. or hear a story that you've
    never heard before.
  66. And you've had that moment, right?
  67. You're in the room
    with someone you don't know,
  68. and you look across the room,
    you see a stranger, and you think,
  69. "I want to talk to this person."
  70. And you can almost hear the first word
    but it just won't come out,
  71. it kind of gets stuck about here,
  72. it kind of goes up and down
  73. and you don't know -
  74. You know what?
  75. Here's my advice: just say it.
  76. What's the worst that can happen?
  77. They want to talk to you.
    Well, they're not talking to you now.
  78. The first word floodgates.
  79. I truly believe that the first word
    acts as a floodgate.
  80. You know, once you said the first word
    everything else just flows.
  81. So keep it simple.
  82. A "Hi," a "Hey," a "Hello."
  83. And do what every good bowler does.
  84. Just gather the enthusiasm,
    the positivity, the energy,
  85. put on a big smile and say, "Hi!"
  86. I know. There's going
    to be that strange moment right now.
  87. Turn to someone sitting next to you,
    stick your hand out and say hello.
  88. Go on.
  89. (Laughter)
  90. I love the awkward laughter.
  91. "Why is she making us do this?"
  92. The first word floodgates.
  93. You know, here's a challenge
    we face every day.
  94. Time.
  95. We have 90 seconds on radio,
  96. and we have to make that conversation
    with a stranger memorable.
  97. So how do you do it?
  98. What's the biggest challenge?
  99. Honestly,
  100. if we get stuck in the rut of:
  101. "Hi!" "Hey!"
  102. "How are you?" "I'm fine."
  103. "What's going on?" "Nothing much."
  104. "Same old." "So tell me what's new?"
  105. There you go, 45 seconds down, wasted.
  106. Right?
  107. So, here's my advice:
  108. skip the small talk
    and ask a really personal question.
  109. And don't be afraid.
  110. Trust me.
  111. You will be surprised how much people
    are willing to share if you just ask.
  112. So ask any kind of personal question.
  113. Maybe: Interesting name.
  114. How did your parents think of it?
    Is there a story behind it?
  115. Or ...
  116. How long have you lived in this city?
  117. And do you remember
    the first day you landed here?
  118. Answers to those questions
    are always something unique,
  119. always something personal.
  120. My favorite one to try is:
  121. Where do you come from?
    And where does your family live?
  122. Unfailingly,
  123. every single time
    I sit in a cab, I do this.
  124. I ask that question.
  125. Where do you come from?
    And where does your family live?
  126. Let me tell you a little story.
  127. I was coming home one night ...
  128. I get into this taxi, open the door,
    sit down and I say,
  129. "Where are you from?
    Where does your family live?"
  130. And the 60-year-old Pakistani
    cab-driver goes on to tell me
  131. all about his life in Peshawar.

  132. We talked about politics,
  133. we talked about music,
    family, wife, his farm.
  134. And 20 minutes later he is convinced
    that I am the perfect bride
  135. for his 26-year-old
    college-educated son from Peshawar.
  136. (Laughter)
  137. And as I'm getting out of the taxi,
  138. he is taking out a passport-sized
    photograph with this look of enthusiasm.
  139. I have to say, it was a very
    difficult goodbye.
  140. But the moral of the story, really,
  141. is what starts with a "Hello"
    can end with a marriage proposal.
  142. And that is a warning.
  143. (Laughter)
  144. Step three.
  145. Find the "me too"s.
  146. Have you ever met someone
  147. who starts a conversation
    like they're starting a debate?
  148. "I am from Delhi."
    "I hate Delhi."
  149. (Laughter)
  150. Yeah? Nothing kills
    a conversation like a negative.
  151. When you meet someone for the first time
  152. make an effort to find the one thing
  153. that you and that other person
    might have in common.
  154. When you start at that point
    and then move outward from there,
  155. you will find that all of a sudden
    the conversation becomes a lot easier.
  156. And that's because both of you suddenly
    are on the same side of something.
  157. And that's a really powerful feeling.
  158. Now, what could you possibly have
    in common with a stranger you ask?
  159. Could be anything, right?
  160. You're both in the same place
    at the same time,
  161. maybe you're from the same country,
  162. maybe you both like the winter
  163. or you're longing for it to rain.
  164. I don't know, you'd find something.
  165. When you find a "me too,"
  166. you automatically have a kind of
    buy-in from the other person.
  167. Trust me, that's helpful.
  168. Pay a unique compliment.
  169. I read somewhere
    that people will forget what you do,
  170. and they'll forget what you say,
  171. but they will never forget
    how you made them feel.
  172. So be generous.
  173. And go out and give someone
    a nice full compliment.
  174. So, I have this belief
    about a "compliment immunity meter",
  175. and it comes from this experience I had
  176. when I met this gorgeous supermodel.
  177. And I look at her and I say,
  178. "Wow! You are beautiful!"
  179. And there is no reaction on her face.
  180. And I think to myself, "How?"
  181. That's when I realized,
  182. she is immune to the word "beautiful."
  183. She's probably heard it
    a hundred thousand times today.
  184. And if she's on social media,
  185. she's heard it a million times today.
  186. There are some words that each of us
    have developed an immunity to.
  187. It could be "nice," it could be "awesome,"
    it could be "cool" ...
  188. Stay away from these.
  189. Try and construct a compliment
    that's unique and genuine,
  190. and you don't have to lie.
  191. Really.
  192. When you look at someone and say,
  193. "I love how when you smile,
  194. it's like your nose smiles,
    and then your eyes smile,
  195. and your ears smile,
    even your forehead smiles
  196. and suddenly, the whole person
    is just smiling."
  197. You see,
  198. I hope that's a compliment
    you're not going to forget for a while.
  199. Pay a unique and genuine compliment.
  200. Ask for an opinion.
  201. All of us have opinions; trust me.
  202. And we all want them to be heard
  203. and everybody wants validation.
  204. So go on and ask for an opinion,
  205. and that's when you
    open up a two-way street.
  206. That is when the real communication begins,
  207. and you will be surprised
    how much you can pick up about a person
  208. just by asking their opinion
    on something pretty generic.
  209. Here's a mistake that some people make.
  210. They ask your opinion
    about something really difficult.
  211. It feels almost intimidating.
  212. Somewhere in a room,
    full of very well-informed people,
  213. and someone was to come up to me and say,
  214. "So what do you think about the way
  215. the oil prices have affected
    the real estate market in Dubai?"
  216. I feel a bit cornered.
  217. I feel like I might fail,
    and this is an examination,
  218. and that's the lesson.
  219. Nobody needs to fail
    at a first-time conversation.
  220. Just ask something simple.
    Keep it generic.
  221. How do you like your coffee?
  222. When did you watch your last movie?
    What did you think of it?
  223. And when somebody gives you their opinion:
  224. really listen.
  225. Don't listen to reply. Listen to listen.
  226. There's a difference.
  227. And that brings me to my next point.
  228. Be present.
  229. I know you've been through this.
  230. I know I have.
  231. You're pouring your heart out to someone,
  232. and they are like this,
  233. "Yeah, yeah, go on, keep talking.
  234. I can multitask!
  235. What's with Wi-Fi?"
  236. (Laughter)
  237. You know, when someone's trying
    to communicate with you,
  238. the least you can do
    is really be in that conversation.
  239. Just be wholeheartedly present,
  240. just be there.
  241. And - oh! - my favorite part:
    make eye contact.
  242. Trust me, eye contact
    is where all the magic happens.
  243. You can feel the conversation.
  244. And trust me, when you
    are looking at someone in the eye,
  245. nine out of ten times,
    they will not dare look away, right?
  246. (Laughter)
  247. Now, if only I could look
    into the eyes of 1.6 million people,
  248. I would not have to worry about you guys
    tuning out during the ad breaks.
  249. That brings me to this, my favorite point
    because I think it's got a catchy name.
  250. Name, place, animal, thing.
  251. You remember that game?
  252. Remember the little details
    about a person.
  253. Remember their name.
    It's so important.
  254. It's awful when you meet someone
    for 18th time, and you say,
  255. "You must be Paul, no Peter.
    Something with the P and it ends with ..."
  256. It's terrible. Remember someone's name
    and say it back to them.
  257. You have no idea how important
    you're making them feel,
  258. and that's not the only detail.
  259. Remember all the other details as well.
  260. The places they like to go to,
    the places they've been to,
  261. the places they want to go to,
    their pet's names.
  262. How their pet's been feeling lately?
    The things they like.
  263. Remember their children's names,
    that's such a winner.
  264. Remember their wife's names,
    their girlfriend's names.
  265. Just don't mix up the last two
    because that could be disastrous.
  266. (Laughter)
  267. Remember these little things about people
    and repeat it back to them,
  268. ask be genuinely interested,
  269. and automatically you kind of
    become an investor in their well-being,
  270. so they'll feel responsible to you
    to keep that conversation going.
  271. There we go.
  272. Seven amazing ways that you can
    make conversation with anyone,
  273. and seven reasons
    why you should use the break
  274. that's going to come up to talk
    to a stranger that you don't know.
  275. I'm going to end with this analogy.
  276. A conversation is like reading a book.
  277. You can turn to any page you want.
  278. You can flip to your favorite chapter.
  279. You can read as long as you want,
    and you can read what you want,
  280. and every person, trust me,
    is a really good book.
  281. And it saddens me so much
  282. that entire human lives
    are being boiled down
  283. to 140 characters and catchy headlines.
  284. Because that's not what we are.
  285. We are not abridged versions.
  286. We are entire human stories.
  287. We deserve more from each other.
  288. So what are you going to do
    in this big world we call the library?
  289. Are you going to walk around,
  290. look at the hard bound copies
    and read the titles?
  291. Or are you going to actually
    reach for a book,
  292. open a page and start reading a story?
  293. You decide.
  294. Thank you.
  295. (Applause)