I had the opportunity to go through Dale Carnegie when I was working at Hy-Vee. Up until that class I had always found it difficult to engage with strangers and make small talk. In fact, I hated it. Discussing the weather or the latest news headline always seemed so shallow. The best lesson I received from that entire course was the fact that everyone has a story to tell. The easiest to way to connect with people – find that story.
This goes hand in hand with my last blog about asking others what they’re passionate about. The next step is to listen and actively engage in whatever turn the conversation takes. Once someone starts telling their story they must become the most important person in the room, no matter who walks in the door. It is only by making them the center point that you will truly engage in the current conversation and ask the questions that will continue the story.
The thing that I’ve realized over the years is that everyone, yes everyone, has an interesting story to tell. It’s finding that story that makes someone a great conversationalist. We all have our favorite vacation memory, best meal, favorite drink, or intriguing hobby. We’re also really good at telling that story to whoever is willing to listen. By sharing this passion we develop a deeper connection and better relationship that ultimately builds trust.
The next time you’re at a networking event and really not in the mood to be there try finding a person’s story. We all have a great story to tell, if only someone would listen.