I’ve always been shy. While my dad was on business trips, he would always call to ask what I learned in school. My answer was always in a whisper. And he would tell me that he couldn’t hear me and that I needed to speak louder until I was yelling, which is why I still talk too loud while I’m on the phone (and not on the phone too).
I was an awkward conversationalist – preferring to hide behind my mom or read a book instead (the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series were my favorite). One day, on our way home from Friday morning chocolate chip pancakes, my dad told me the secret to conversation. Ask people about themselves.
So, I began asking questions. And my relationship with new friends and old friends flourished. People liked me. Even though they knew very little about me. I think that they really liked that being around me made them feel heard, important, and special. Which meant a lot to me, because they are.
Next time you’re stuck next to the quiet person at a company dinner or out of things to say on a first date – ask questions about the person you’re talking to, listen, and then ask more questions. You’ll learn things like where the best croissant in town is, how to grow heirloom tomatoes, and (most importantly) what book you should read next.