Are you secretly shy? Do you dread having to go to these networking events and meetings where you have to talk to strangers? What can you say when you’re standing alone, drink in hand, faced with someone you have no interest in talking to?
Believe me, you’re not alone. As a secret shy person myself, I often want to just run into the next room and wait until it’s all over. But I have to remind myself, we’re all human, and we’re all looking for connection, and authentic listening. Not checking your phone and half-nodding, but real, eye-to-eye connection and genuine curiosity. Each person craves a good listener, and since they very rarely find it, may simply give up before they start to talk. Exceed their expectations by giving them your FULL ATTENTION. Look straight at them. Turn your body to face them. Don’t do anything else. Ask a question. Then just listen.
Your Favorite Things
What’s your favorite food to cook?
What’s your favorite movie to watch over and over again?
What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?
What’s your favorite smell?
What’s your favorite part of your job?
What is your favorite daily ritual?
What is your favorite quotation?
What is the best book you’ve read about your field?
What was the first job you ever had?
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When was the last time you played hooky from school or work?
What was the last movie you liked?
What was the best concert you ever attended?
If you could solve one problem in the world right now, what would it be?
Do you give to any causes?
What made you decide to connect with them?
If you could have dinner with any three people, whom would you choose?
If you could write a book about anything, what would it be?
If you could play any instrument, which would you play?
If you could memorize any book cover to cover, which one would it be?
If you could possess any superpower, what would it be?
If you could own your own retail store, what would you sell?
If you could live in one city for the rest of your life, where would you live?
If you had an unlimited shopping spree at one store, which store would it be?
If you could make any fictional character come to life, which would it be?
If you could start your own restaurant, what would it be?
If you could pick any person to be the president, whom would you choose?
Do you go by a nickname?
What is one precept you live by?
What book has had the biggest impact on you?
What’s your preferred method of getting the news?
When driving, do you listen to CDs, your ipod, the radio or nothing?
Do you prefer tea or coffee?
Do you watch Jon Stewart?
How do you relieve stress?
Who would you consider to be your hero?
After you’ve asked them a few questions, and a few good follow up questions, pause and see if they ask you questions back. If they do, then you can start to talk about your nonprofit, and what your projects are right now.
Often you’ll find a much more receptive audience than if you had just started to talk without listening.