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Conversations About Passion

Conversations About Passion

Are you a bit awkward when talking with new people? Do you find yourself the person at the party checking out the bookshelf? Maybe you’re great in certain contexts but not in others. I have a few ideas on opening up conversations that will flow fairly well, and will make you come off as a great person to talk with at a party.

Passion Rules

My number one trick for talking with people I don’t know is that I steer the conversation as fast as I can away from weather, sports, local TV news, and other topics. I ask people questions like, “So, when you’re not attending graduation ceremonies, what do you do that sparks your passion?”

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Most people balk at the direct frontal assault of that question. For some reason, it’s just not done that way. People never think to ask someone straight out what really brings them joy in their lives. But you know what? When you take a risk on this early steering attempt and it pays off, the conversations are far richer.

The other person might say, “Oh, I don’t know. I really like fly fishing. That’s not really techie or anything.”

They’re immediately trying to discount what they’re talking about as a defensive protective maneuver. They don’t want you saying back, “Oh, fly fishing is stupid.” So, when given a response like this, try going back with, “Really? I don’t know anything about fly fishing. What separates a newbie from someone who’s been at it a while?”

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This is an open-ended question that will get the person talking. Soon enough, you’re nodding along, adding quick filler comments like, “And you tie these yourself?” The other person feels their spark being fanned, and they react. They talk more and more about what intrigues them.

Turnabout

Of course, this means that the person will turn the question around on you at some point, unless they’re so needy or thoughtless that you’ve accidentally sunk your entire night talking about this one thing. Be ready with a response. Tell them about something you’re into. It doesn’t matter what. But be ready to say more than, “I’m into remote control cars.” They will follow your lead and will probably try to ask probing questions.

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You do have passions, right? Aren’t they more fun to discuss than whether or not it’ll rain?

Shy People

The #1 comment I get when talking about things like this is, “Easy for you to say, but I’m really shy.” I will freely admit, being shy is definitely tricky when faced with social situations. Know what to do? Find other shy people and try this out with them or get into the general orbit of really extraverted people, because they’ll talk your head off and you can just nod politely and laugh where appropriate until the conversation finds a quiet moment for you.

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Be Prepared for New Roads

I love to learn about people’s passions, because it almost always translates back into energy that I’ll use in pursuing my passions. I might not care a lick about fly fishing, but after an hour of talking with someone who thinks it’s the greatest gift to humankind since Pokemon, I will leave that conversation energized and ready to go put more passion into the things that matter to me.

Learning about people’s passions also opens opportunities for you. I was speaking with a guy about technology at a party where he and I were probably the only folks at the gathering that knew anything about tech. We talked about his company and their new broadband technologies for cable. We talked about my experiences with broadband, as well as my thoughts on where the sweet spot for cable companies was. After all was said and done, he asked for my resume. Just in case.

It’s amazing what conversations about passion can do for you. I encourage you to give this a shot at the next gathering you find yourself attending where you don’t know everyone in the room. Heck, try it out on your extended family. I bet you’d find the answers there to be exciting as well.

–Chris Brogan is passionate about new media and content networks at the GrasshopperFactory. Today, he’s passionate about people who can’t see past their job roles at [chrisbrogan.com]. And every day, he’s passionate about the great comments and responses from the loyal readers and wonderful braintrust that follow Lifehack.org

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Last Updated on April 6, 2020

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

Most discussions on positively influencing others eventually touch on Dale Carnegie’s seminal work, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Written more than 83 years ago, the book touches on a core component of human interaction, building strong relationships. It is no wonder why.

Everything that we do hinges on our ability to connect with others and formulate deep relationships. You cannot sell a house, buy a house, advance in most careers, sell a product, pitch a story, teach a course, etc. without building healthy relationships. Managers get the best results from their teams, not through brute force, but to careful appeals to their sensibilities, occasional withdrawals from the reservoir of respect they’ve built. Using these tactics, they can influence others to excellence, to productivity, and to success.

Carnegie’s book is great. Of course, there are other resources too. Most of us have someone in our lives who positively influences us. The truth is positively influencing people is about centering the humanity of others. Chances are, you know someone who is really good at making others feel like stars. They can get you to do things that the average person cannot. Where the requests of others sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, the request from this special person sounds like music to your ears. You’re delighted to not only listen but also to oblige.

So how to influence people in a positive way? Read on for tips.

1. Be Authentic

To influence people in a positive way, be authentic. Rather than being a carbon copy of someone else’s version of authenticity, uncover what it is that makes you unique.

Discover your unique take on an issue and then live up to and honor that. Once of the reasons social media influencers are so powerful is that they have carved out a niche for themselves or taken a common issue and approached it from a novel or uncommon way. People instinctually appreciate people whose public persona matches their private values.

Contradictions bother us because we crave stability. When someone professes to be one way, but lives contrary to that profession, it signals that they are confused or untrustworthy and thereby, inauthentic. Neither of these combinations bode well for positively influencing others.

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2. Listen

Growing up, my father would tell me to listen to what others said. He told me if I listened carefully, I would know all I needed to know about a person’s character, desires and needs.

To positively influence others, you must listen to what is spoken and what is left unsaid. Therein lies the explanation for what people need in order to feel validated, supported and seen. If a person feels they are invisible, and unseen by their superiors, they are less likely to be positively influenced by that person.

Listening meets a person’s primary need of validation and acceptance.

Take a look at this guide on how to be a better listener: How to Practice Active Listening (A Step-By-Step Guide)

3. Become an Expert

Most people are predisposed to listen to, if not respect, authority. If you want to positively influence others, become an authority in the area in which you seek to lead others. Research and read everything you can about the given topic, and then look for opportunities to put your education into practice.

You can argue over opinions. You cannot argue, or it is unwise to argue, over facts and experts come with facts.

4. Lead with Story

From years of working in the public relations space, I know that personal narratives, testimonials and impact stories are incredibly powerful. But I never cease to be amazed with how effective a well-timed and told story can be.

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If you want to influence people, learn to tell stories. Your stories should be related to the issue or concept you are discussing. They should be an analogy or metaphor that explains your topic in ordinary terms and in vivid detail. To learn more about how to tell powerful stories, and the ethics of storytelling, take a look at this article: How To Tell An Interesting Story In 4 Simple Steps

5. Lead by Example

It is incredibly inspiring to watch passionate, talented people at work or play. One of the reasons a person who is not an athlete can be in awe of athletic prowess is because human nature appreciates the extraordinary. When we watch the Olympics, Olympic trials, gymnastic competitions, ice skating, and other competitive sports, we can recognize the effort of people who day in and day out give their all. C

ase in point: Simone Biles. The gymnast extraordinaire won her 6TH all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships after doing a triple double. She was the first woman to do so. Watching her gave me chills. Even non-gymnasts and non-competitive athletes can appreciate the talent required to pull off such a remarkable feat.

We celebrate remarkable accomplishments and believe that their example is proof that we too can accomplish something great, even if it isn’t qualifying for the Olympics. To influence people in a positive way, we must lead by example, lead with intention and execute with excellence.

6. Catch People Doing Good

A powerful way to influence people in a positive way is to catch people doing good. Instead of looking for problems, look for successes. Look for often overlooked, but critically important things that your peers, subordinates and managers do that make the work more effective and more enjoyable.

Once you catch people doing good, name and notice their contributions.

7. Be Effusive with Praise

It did not take me long to notice a remarkable trait of a former boss. He not only began and ended meetings with praise, but he peppered praise throughout the entire meeting. He found a way to celebrate the unique attributes and skills of his team members. He was able to quickly and accurately assess what people were doing well and then let them and their colleagues know.

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Meetings were not just an occasion to go through a “To Do” list, they were opportunities to celebrate accomplishments, no matter how small they are.

8. Be Kind Rather Than Right

I am going to level with you; this one is tough. It is easy to get caught up in a cycle of proving oneself. For people who lack confidence, or people who prioritize the opinions of others, being right is important. The validation that comes with being perceived as “right” feeds one’s ego. But in the quest to be “right,” we can hurt other people. Once we’ve hurt someone by being unkind, it is much harder to get them to listen to what we’re trying to influence them to do.

The antidote to influencing others via bullying is to prioritize kindness above rightness. You can be kind and still stand firm in your position. For instance, many people think that they need others to validate their experience. If a person does not see the situation you experienced in the way you see it, you get upset. But your experience is your experience.

If you and your friends go out to eat and you get food poisoning, you do not need your friends to agree that the food served at the restaurant was problematic for you. Your own experience of getting food poisoning is all the validation you need. Therefore, taking time to be right is essentially wasted and, if you were unkind in seeking validation for your food-poison experience, now you’ve really lost points.

9. Understand a Person’s Logical, Emotional and Cooperative Needs

The Center for Creative Leadership has argued that the best way to influence others is to appeal to their logical, emotional and cooperative needs. Their logical need is their rational and educational need. Their emotional need is the information that touches them in a deeply personal manner. The cooperative need is understanding the level of cooperation various individuals need and then appropriately offering it.

The trick with this system is to understand that different people need different things. For some people, a strong emotional appeal will outweigh logical explanations. For others, having an opportunity to collaborate will override emotional connection.

If you know your audience, you will know what they need in order to be positively influenced. If you have limited information about the people whom you are attempting to influence, you will be ineffective.

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10. Understand Your Lane

If you want to positively influence others, operate from your sphere of influence. Operate from your place of expertise. Leave everything else to others. Gone are the days when being a jack of all trades is celebrated.

Most people appreciate brands that understand their target audience and then deliver on what that audience wants. When you focus on what you are uniquely gifted and qualified to do, and then offer that gift to the people who need it, you are likely more effective. This effectiveness is attractive.

You cannot positively influence others if you are more preoccupied by what others do well versus what you do well.

Final Thoughts

Influencing people is about centering your humanity. If you want to influence others positively, focus on the way you communicate and improve the relationship with yourself first.

It’s hard to influence others if you’re still trying to figure out how to communicate with yourself.

More Tips About Making Influence

Featured photo credit: Wonderlane via unsplash.com

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