I wanna teach you a very simple formula for conversation so that when you're approaching people you don't know, for the first time, you can start a conversation with them instantly. And it doesn't matter where you are. It could be at the coffee shop, it could be at that event, it could be out on the street. I wanna make sure that, not only can we start a conversation with anyone, but in those moments where we're running out of things to say, we can rescue that conversation and keep things moving. So, the key to engaging in conversation is curiosity. When you are interested in someone else, you become interesting. It's not the other way around. As Jordan talked about earlier, a lot of us, we wanna become the most interesting person so we try to talk about how cool we are, and our accomplishments, and show off, and appear that we stand out. But in reality, people take interest in us, when we are interested in them. So we have a conversation formula worksheet. You'll see that it's divided...
into three columns. The formula's very simple. We're gonna ask a question, we're then gonna listen to the answer, and we're gonna reply in the form of a statement. As Jordan said earlier, we like to keep things simple here at AFC, we're not trying to overcomplicate things. So, a lot of us, when we get nervous, we fail at that third step. We ask a follow up question. And all of a sudden the other person feels like they're on a job interview. So in your notebook, in the question column, I want you to write down three questions you have for the person sitting next to you. Think of, who do you know here? What do you do for a living? Where are you from? Are you from the Bay Area? When'd you hear about this Creative Live event? Why'd you decide to come out today? How'd you guys get here? Right, simple questions. So, we had a chance to sit next to our partners all day, I want you to write down just three questions you have for the person next to you. Now we're gonna take turns answering questions. So, I want you to turn to your partner and ask them a question. And in the listen column, I want you to write down their answers.
Yeah. (audience laughs) (audience chattering) Make sure you're writing down their answers in the answer column. I wanna see how many of you know how to listen. Listening is the most important skill when it comes to conversation, because when we choose to ask someone else a question, right, who're you here with, how'd you hear about this, all those questions I gave you as examples, right, they were about the other person. Which is, everyone's favorite topic. We can all talk about ourselves for hours, days, maybe weeks, right? (audience laughs) So we're now picking everyone's favorite topic, meaning, we're not gonna run out of things to say. But, we need to clue ourselves in to the right signals. When I say listen, I mean listen with your eyes and your ears. So that, when I'm actually talking to someone and I'm making that eye contact, I'm looking at their emotional response on their face. Are they really excited to tell me this answer? Are they excited to tell me about where they're from? Or is there no response, is there no real emotional response? If they're really excited to tell me about this topic, then it's important that I dig a little deeper. But I want to dig a little deeper in the form of a statement. I want to respond to their answers with an answer myself. My thoughts, my feelings, about that. Maybe I've never heard of that place that they're from. Or maybe I visited there on vacation. Either way, I do not want to use an immediate follow up question. I want to make sure that I make a statement. So now in this third column, we should have our question, we should have our answers, I want you to write down three responses in the form of a statement.
So Gally wants to know, how does this work outside of a controlled networking environment, like say, for instance, you're out and you meet a stranger, and you approach them, I mean, clearly we're kinda paired off here, or you're at a networking event maybe you expect it, but say you see someone at a coffee shop or something, can you do these same tactics?
Absolutely. And that's why I love the question, because, as humans, we are primed and ready to answer other humans' questions. So, I love to think of me sitting at a stop light, right, I'm in traffic in Los Angeles, I'm sitting at a stop light, and the car next to me pulls up at the light and rolls down their window. What am I gonna do if I'm actually being polite? I'm gonna roll down my window too. And why is that? Because I'm expecting a question. So questions tap in to everyone's innate desire to respond. So that's why they're so powerful. Asking someone, hey, what's that coffee drink you ordered, I'd never heard of that? Right, easy way to start a conversation at a coffee shop. Being curious about what people are up to, and what they're doing, is key. And I've found the absolute best questions to ask are why, and how. Question?
So, can you give me an example of how to respond with a statement without it sounding like, well now I'm turning it into all about me?
'Kay, so, let's go through the examples that you have.
Okay, so my question was, what made you decide to take this class? And his answer was, for his business that he's starting he's gonna be doing a lot of networking and he wants to hone his craft. So my statement could be like, oh that's cool, that's kinda the same reason that I came to this class.
The important thing there is to expand on that, right, so he gave you something to work with, we don't just want to parrot back his response. So what could you add to that? What have you found in your experience, that these networking skills could give you as an advantage in business?
Well I mean, I could talk about an experience that I had, or something like that, I mean...
So that's the key right? If we start sharing, we now allow the other person to ask questions of us, and all of a sudden we've created a conversation. But if we simply focus on asking him follow up questions and not revealing anything about ourselves, the other person starts to feel like we're playing conversational hot potato, right. Oh, I just have to do all the work. So, one concise statement, right? I've found that business is all about making connections and who you know. Will allow him to go, oh, what is it that you do for work? And now we're both taking interest in each other and we have a conversation. So, it's one clear, concise statement. And it's adding to their answer. It's not saying yeah, cool, that's awesome. Yeah me too. But it's adding something, so that the other person doesn't feel the burden of conversation, right? Shouldering everything.
That's helpful, thank you.
And the best part about this, for those of us that have a little bit of social anxiety, right, we struggle with this. All you have to do, is use the formula two, at most three, times. By the third time you ask someone a question, they're gonna feel that you're interested in them and they're gonna wanna take interest in you. And they're gonna start asking you questions. And all of a sudden you're gonna be having a 30 minute conversation about the last four Creative Live classes you've taken and how awesome they were. So, we're using questions to get people to open up and then we're adding to that conversation in the form of a statement. And that's why, the formula's simple. Question, answer, statement. Where most of us fail is we don't listen with our eyes. We're not looking at emotional responses and we typically lead right back into a followup question. Now that we have our three statements, how many of us can say in that conversation we responded in the form of a statement? Show of hands. Or did we find ourselves going back to questions? 'Cause, what I witnessed here was a lot of one person talking (laughs) and the other person listening. So that's why I wanted to highlight and take a minute on the sheet to actually write the statements. Because it's very important that we are responding too. It takes the burden off the other person and if the other person you're talking to is a little anxious too, which is totally normal, it allows them to feel more comfortable, knowing that they're not gonna have to supply every single thing that we're talking about. So, if I wanna talk to someone at an event, what do I do? Ask a question. If I run out of things to say about Creative Live, and how I got here, and traffic in San Francisco, what do I do? Ask another question. That's why having that formula is simple, but so effective in these moments where we can't memorize lines, we can't have a script. Life is not about scripts. Life is about allowing the other person to share with you and when you're both sharing, you're in a conversation. That's how the formula works.
I have a question, about how this applies in a group dynamic and I'm just gonna add a little special condition, so for me particularly, I am hard of hearing, so it makes it difficult for me to hear the words that are being exchanged in groups, but I'm very present in the conversation and so I was just wondering, how do I... Like I always have to ask the person next to me, what's going on with the conversation, but I still feel like I miss out on a lot of things. So, do you have any suggestions or tips?
Yeah, so that is why I love the neutral body language so much. Because it allows you to position your ear closer to the conversation. So that now, even in those moments where there's a lot going on here, as long as the person next to me knows that I'm interested and I'm following along there, and they're part of the group, I'm going to be accepted. The problem is, when I walk into a group and I just get overwhelmed and I'm not really paying attention to anyone. So in a group setting, I like singular focus. Get this one person interested, get them asking me questions, and then I can win over the rest of the group. So in your case, right, I would pick whatever ear you feel is the most effective to hear what they're saying and utilize neutral body language to get close to them, so that you can give them your ear and hear them. And again, if you are responding with that smile and allowing them to feel emotionally connected, the group is going to warm up to you. So what I want to caution you with, is we don't want to have a real serious look when we're listening. We still wanna have that soft smile when we're listening. Even if we may be struggling to follow along with what's going on. Because remember, people are gonna remember how you made them feel. And that smile's gonna a long way to allow them to feel good talking to you.
I got a question that came from the online audience and we had a couple of people ask a similar question. But Jeff wanted to know, any tips for networking with high net worth people? I've been to some events where I feel like a total fish out of water. Do all these tactics work for people who are maybe higher up there, or do you change your approach if you know somebody's maybe, you know, higher net worth, or somebody you're looking to talk to.
Right, so, play to their ego.