Advertising
Advertising

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?”

Advertising

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?”

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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

More by this author

7 Uses for a Virtual Machine When Emailing Think Press Release Mail, BrainDump, Mail, Do Stretch Goals Matter You Had me at Insane

Trending in Communication

1The Gentle Art of Saying No 217 Ted Talks for Kids to Inspire Little Minds to Do Big Things 310 Toxic Persons You Should Just Get Rid Of 4Striving Towards Secure Attachment: How to Restructure Your Thoughts 5Being Self Aware Is the Key to Success: How to Boost Self Awareness

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

Advertising

But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

Advertising

What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

Advertising

But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Advertising

Read Next