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How Small Talk Can Lead You To Great Success

How Small Talk Can Lead You To Great Success

It is not what you know, it’s who you know. Take these words from the author of one of the world’s greatest bestsellers of all time, Dale Carnegie. He became famous for his How to Win Friends and Influence People in 1936. Many goals can be attained by communicating with other people and learning just how to talk to people can lead you to great success.

The art of talking is as much about listening as speaking out loud. You cannot know a person until you talk with them and get to know them at a deeper level. Small talk also serves as a portal to let others see you as well. In the world of entrepreneurship, you must surround yourself with the right people who can help you grow and expand your horizons. When you have the right people within your grasp, you have a connection that will lead you closer to success.

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Here are three top tips that can help your small talk lead to great success.

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Be Spontaneous

It can be hard to start a conversation with a stranger. But it’s often even harder to keep the ball rolling. Listen to whomever you are talking to and compliment what they say. The conversation will likely continue in an amiable way. Being interested in whatever the person is talking about — regardless of whether or not you really are — will get you a long way towards gearing the conversation the way you want it to. Also, try never to settle one on one-line answers like a “yes” or a “no”. This will definitely lead you to trouble as the other person might feel that you are either uninterested or not worth the time to talk to. Remember, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Be interested in them – not just you!

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Have a story or two ready.

It might sound too rehearsed but having something to share with someone that you already thought of before will help you have successful small talks. Having a number of things to share will also give you a chance to choose as to which might be more of a “common ground” story with the person you’re talking to. If you are nervous about meeting up with a certain person, having a story ready might help calm your nerves. Try and gear the story you pick to the topic at hand, such as saying something like, “You know, that reminds me of the time that….” After all, communication is all about sharing something in common. And when you have that common thing that you can talk about, then it wouldn’t be hard for you to have a small talk. You will be able to establish a closer bond and later on a connection that you can use for your success. Remember, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

Have a clear objective.

Seriously, why are you talking to this person? Why do you want to talk with them at all? Do they have something you need for your business? Do they know people that are influential and can help you accomplish something? What is your objective? Perhaps you want to break the ice with someone and be friends with them. But what is your CLEAR objective? Make it clear through your chat that this relationship can somehow be beneficial for both of you. Having a clear objective will not only do away with gray areas of small talk but will also make the small talk a foundation for future success for an endeavor. Remember, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

Small talks do not need to be a frantic approach to save yourself in a blind spot or just because you don’t have a choice. Instead, it can be a means for you to be recognized and to open up new choices for you to achieve success. Don’t underestimate the value of small talks. Don’t choose between silence and success.

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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