7 Ways to Make a Conversation With Anyone | Malavika Varadan | TEDxBITSPilaniDubai

7 Ways to Make a Conversation With Anyone | Malavika Varadan | TEDxBITSPilaniDubai

Translator: Hang Do
Reviewer: Queenie Lee Hello, everybody. I’m going to start with a question. How many of you know the person
sitting next to you from before today? Interesting. So, do you remember the first conversation
that you ever had with that person? You know conversations are links. Let’s imagine every conversation
to be a tiny metal link. And every time you talk to a stranger, a metal link is formed. And every conversation that you have
after that moment, the link gets stronger and stronger. And every day each one of us
meets so many strangers: the grocery guy, the cab guy maybe the receptionist
at a new office you went to. And with every conversation
we build new links. Until finally at the end, we’ve created a kind of massive
World Wide Web of conversation. World Wide Web. It’s a catchy word.
I think I’ve heard that somewhere. That’s it, right? A conversation.
It’s a fascinating thing. A conversation is an adventure. A conversation gives you
a whole new perspective. A conversation opens a door. Conversations can make war
and conversations can make peace. And conversations define
who we are as a human race. Think about this. Every single person in your life
was once a stranger to you. And you knew nothing about them
until you had that first conversation. So I’m here today to tell you
to talk to strangers, to have a conversation. And I’m here to tell you how. Seven ways that you can make
a conversation with almost anyone. I’m a radio presenter and I love talking to people. I do. I love it. And I’m so glad that I do it for a living. Here’s what my day is like. Every single morning,
I go into an empty room, I put on a mic, and I have a conversation
with 1.6 million people … that I can’t see. Yeah. You know what the hardest part is, though? It’s time. In a four-hour show, I get 20 minutes. That’s all the talk there is. And in 20 minutes I have to convince you
that I am your best friend. How do I do that? How do I establish a connection? I have 20 minutes to inform you,
to excite you, to engage with you but most importantly, 20 out of the 20 times
that I switch on that mic, I have to leave a smile on your face. Except, I can’t see you,
I know nothing about you, and I have no way
of gauging your reactions. How do you do it?
How do you talk to a stranger? Well, my nine years in radio
have taught me these simple little tricks. Strangers, they are everywhere. And we’ve always been told,
“Don’t talk to strangers!” But I beg to differ. Every stranger comes with an opportunity, an opportunity to learn something new, an opportunity to have an experience
you’ve never had or hear a story that you’ve
never heard before. And you’ve had that moment, right? You’re in the room
with someone you don’t know, and you look across the room,
you see a stranger, and you think, “I want to talk to this person.” And you can almost hear the first word
but it just won’t come out, it kind of gets stuck about here, it kind of goes up and down and you don’t know – You know what? Here’s my advice: just say it. What’s the worst that can happen? They want to talk to you.
Well, they’re not talking to you now. The first word floodgates. I truly believe that the first word
acts as a floodgate. You know, once you said the first word
everything else just flows. So keep it simple. A “Hi,” a “Hey,” a “Hello.” And do what every good bowler does. Just gather the enthusiasm,
the positivity, the energy, put on a big smile and say, “Hi!” I know. There’s going
to be that strange moment right now. Turn to someone sitting next to you,
stick your hand out and say hello. Go on. (Laughter) I love the awkward laughter. “Why is she making us do this?” The first word floodgates. You know, here’s a challenge
we face every day. Time. We have 90 seconds on radio, and we have to make that conversation
with a stranger memorable. So how do you do it? What’s the biggest challenge? Honestly, if we get stuck in the rut of: “Hi!” “Hey!” “How are you?” “I’m fine.” “What’s going on?” “Nothing much.” “Same old.” “So tell me what’s new?” There you go, 45 seconds down, wasted. Right? So, here’s my advice: skip the small talk
and ask a really personal question. And don’t be afraid. Trust me. You will be surprised how much people
are willing to share if you just ask. So ask any kind of personal question. Maybe: Interesting name. How did your parents think of it?
Is there a story behind it? Or … How long have you lived in this city? And do you remember
the first day you landed here? Answers to those questions
are always something unique, always something personal. My favorite one to try is: Where do you come from?
And where does your family live? Unfailingly, every single time
I sit in a cab, I do this. I ask that question. Where do you come from?
And where does your family live? Let me tell you a little story. I was coming home one night … I get into this taxi, open the door,
sit down and I say, “Where are you from?
Where does your family live?” And the 60-year-old Pakistani
cab-driver goes on to tell me all about his life in Peshawar. We talked about politics, we talked about music,
family, wife, his farm. And 20 minutes later he is convinced
that I am the perfect bride for his 26-year-old
college-educated son from Peshawar. (Laughter) And as I’m getting out of the taxi, he is taking out a passport-sized
photograph with this look of enthusiasm. I have to say, it was a very
difficult goodbye. But the moral of the story, really, is what starts with a “Hello”
can end with a marriage proposal. And that is a warning. (Laughter) Step three. Find the “me too”s. Have you ever met someone who starts a conversation
like they’re starting a debate? “I am from Delhi.”
“I hate Delhi.” (Laughter) Yeah? Nothing kills
a conversation like a negative. When you meet someone for the first time make an effort to find the one thing that you and that other person
might have in common. When you start at that point
and then move outward from there, you will find that all of a sudden
the conversation becomes a lot easier. And that’s because both of you suddenly
are on the same side of something. And that’s a really powerful feeling. Now, what could you possibly have
in common with a stranger you ask? Could be anything, right? You’re both in the same place
at the same time, maybe you’re from the same country, maybe you both like the winter or you’re longing for it to rain. I don’t know, you’d find something. When you find a “me too,” you automatically have a kind of
buy-in from the other person. Trust me, that’s helpful. Pay a unique compliment. I read somewhere
that people will forget what you do, and they’ll forget what you say, but they will never forget
how you made them feel. So be generous. And go out and give someone
a nice full compliment. So, I have this belief
about a “compliment immunity meter”, and it comes from this experience I had when I met this gorgeous supermodel. And I look at her and I say, “Wow! You are beautiful!” And there is no reaction on her face. And I think to myself, “How?” That’s when I realized, she is immune to the word “beautiful.” She’s probably heard it
a hundred thousand times today. And if she’s on social media, she’s heard it a million times today. There are some words that each of us
have developed an immunity to. It could be “nice,” it could be “awesome,”
it could be “cool” … Stay away from these. Try and construct a compliment
that’s unique and genuine, and you don’t have to lie. Really. When you look at someone and say, “I love how when you smile, it’s like your nose smiles,
and then your eyes smile, and your ears smile,
even your forehead smiles and suddenly, the whole person
is just smiling.” You see, I hope that’s a compliment
you’re not going to forget for a while. Pay a unique and genuine compliment. Ask for an opinion. All of us have opinions; trust me. And we all want them to be heard and everybody wants validation. So go on and ask for an opinion, and that’s when you
open up a two-way street. That is when the real communication begins, and you will be surprised
how much you can pick up about a person just by asking their opinion
on something pretty generic. Here’s a mistake that some people make. They ask your opinion
about something really difficult. It feels almost intimidating. Somewhere in a room,
full of very well-informed people, and someone was to come up to me and say, “So what do you think about the way the oil prices have affected
the real estate market in Dubai?” I feel a bit cornered. I feel like I might fail,
and this is an examination, and that’s the lesson. Nobody needs to fail
at a first-time conversation. Just ask something simple.
Keep it generic. How do you like your coffee? When did you watch your last movie?
What did you think of it? And when somebody gives you their opinion: really listen. Don’t listen to reply. Listen to listen. There’s a difference. And that brings me to my next point. Be present. I know you’ve been through this. I know I have. You’re pouring your heart out to someone, and they are like this, “Yeah, yeah, go on, keep talking. I can multitask! What’s with Wi-Fi?” (Laughter) You know, when someone’s trying
to communicate with you, the least you can do
is really be in that conversation. Just be wholeheartedly present, just be there. And – oh! – my favorite part:
make eye contact. Trust me, eye contact
is where all the magic happens. You can feel the conversation. And trust me, when you
are looking at someone in the eye, nine out of ten times,
they will not dare look away, right? (Laughter) Now, if only I could look
into the eyes of 1.6 million people, I would not have to worry about you guys
tuning out during the ad breaks. That brings me to this, my favorite point
because I think it’s got a catchy name. Name, place, animal, thing. You remember that game? Remember the little details
about a person. Remember their name.
It’s so important. It’s awful when you meet someone
for 18th time, and you say, “You must be Paul, no Peter.
Something with the P and it ends with …” It’s terrible. Remember someone’s name
and say it back to them. You have no idea how important
you’re making them feel, and that’s not the only detail. Remember all the other details as well. The places they like to go to,
the places they’ve been to, the places they want to go to,
their pet’s names. How their pet’s been feeling lately?
The things they like. Remember their children’s names,
that’s such a winner. Remember their wife’s names,
their girlfriend’s names. Just don’t mix up the last two
because that could be disastrous. (Laughter) Remember these little things about people
and repeat it back to them, ask be genuinely interested, and automatically you kind of
become an investor in their well-being, so they’ll feel responsible to you
to keep that conversation going. There we go. Seven amazing ways that you can
make conversation with anyone, and seven reasons
why you should use the break that’s going to come up to talk
to a stranger that you don’t know. I’m going to end with this analogy. A conversation is like reading a book. You can turn to any page you want. You can flip to your favorite chapter. You can read as long as you want,
and you can read what you want, and every person, trust me,
is a really good book. And it saddens me so much that entire human lives
are being boiled down to 140 characters and catchy headlines. Because that’s not what we are. We are not abridged versions. We are entire human stories. We deserve more from each other. So what are you going to do
in this big world we call the library? Are you going to walk around, look at the hard bound copies
and read the titles? Or are you going to actually
reach for a book, open a page and start reading a story? You decide. Thank you. (Applause)


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    excellent believe

    There's no need to talk to anyone u need to talk to ur self once u learn to love ur self and talk to ur self than everything's ease.

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    She's really cute and bubbly. I usually don't like the Indian accent but she seems like fun. I hate it when people forget my name and then they reintroduce themselves to me for the fourth time. Or I'm their facebook friend and they think we haven't met before

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    MENTAL HEALTH FOR ALL -Dr. Shashwat Saxena

    you bored so much with your initial 4 minutes that anyone would run away…and the presumed jokes which you only understand add to your shallow laughter .nothing else

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    piyush tripathi

    And right now you are alone here just like your studio , what kind of conversation you are doing alone ??
    Ha ha ha 😂😂😂

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    will man

    Pakistani are loving and caring by nature.
    They try to feel emotion, getting positive sides and aggressive in making relation

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    Emra Akg

    I think conversation or flirting is like dancing.. yeah If you dancing dont think about the next move just let it flow to the rythm..m

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    Dggc Dggf

    Eye contact is so heard
    It confuses me and interupts my flow of thoughts
    It makes me go crazy and pushes me towards the end of conversation as fast as possible

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    Neag Catalin

    Imagine to have a wife like this wonderful woman and you are like me. I am not very talkative… And i am pretty sure she want to talk a few hours with she's husband every day after they come back from work and he longs for a little peace
    after a tiring day.

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    Romesh Bhat

    Everyday we meet a new person. No mam
    Same face when I wake up
    Same grocery store guy down my building
    Same faces in my car to work
    Same receptionist
    Same colleagues
    Same manager
    So your lecture not really required.

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    Football tv

    This is usefull only in a professionnel event but don't use this to approach a woman specially if you're not good looking

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    Jean-François Kener

    The first point is the most important! And it's not about the word itself, which can be for sure "HI!", it's about security and good energy. I learnt that on my nights on Spain ^^

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    how to develop confidence in any public speaking so,please help me strongly because i'm still highly suffering i want to try speak out

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    If after you say the first word, and it's going south, you can always pretend you were talking to someone on your phone. Then say "Just a sec…there's some creepy person giving me a weird look…ahhh…everywhere you go!"

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    Sonu Negi

    After watching your video, I willing to talk with strangers. And now I know it, I can learn so many things from them.

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    First question that comes to my introvert mind is not how to make a conversation with anyone, but what's the point? Like, ok conversation with some beatiful girl or your coworkers to establish better realtions, but what is the point to talk with e.g. some guy in the bus? I really prefer silence and only talk to someone if it has some reason to do so. Talking about weather with some stranger is worthless to me. Anyway pretty good presentation, but I think it's for shy, extravert people(yes they exist, and on the other hand i'm not shy and i'm introvert).

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    AJAY dayma

    Coping This from below Comment,Posting Here for your help:
    1. First word floodgates (3:33)
    "Once you've said the first word, everything just flows."

    2. Skip the small talk. (5:20)
    Ask personal questions. Be bold, and you might be surprised how much someone might share.
    Asking about family might help elicit response.
    The lady gives a neat tip, and a neat story at (6:27)

    3. Me – too's (7:34)
    Don't start with negatives. Start the conversation on the same side.

    4. Pay a unique compliment. (8:45)
    Someone may forget what you say or how you look, but they would never forget how you made them feel.
    There are words and compliments that people are immune to.
    Avoid them and pay a genuine, unique compliment.

    5. Ask for an opinion. (10:19)
    Ask generic questions like "what's your last movie and how did you find it?" instead of "what do you think about how this affects the oil prices?"
    That is the difference between generic conversations and exam questions.
    And when someone gives you an opinion, really listen; listen to listen, don't listen to reply.

    6. Be present. (11:40)
    Don't look at your phone etc.
    Make eye contact. You literally feel the conversation.

    7. Name, place, animal, thing (12:42)
    Remember their name. It's really important. Say it back to them. Places they want to go to. Their pets names, their children's names.

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    padmanabhan subramaniam

    Always listen to their stories. People like to be listened .Say motivational words. All people are craving for motivational words.

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    Fizz alie

    Find the me toos : don't always disagree, no negativity
    Me remembering all the times I have said I don't mostly like humans…


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    TedX devaluing their brand by allowing simplistic talks like this to be associated with them. Sure there are some useful enough thought nuggets but it’s all a bit whatever. It’s like a desperation topic for someone that wants to add “did a ted talk” on their resume, and wants to do the ted talk walking around on stage, and wear the ted talk mic, and get ted talk laughs from the crowd, and tell the crowd to do little ted talk activities, etc. Formulaic meh-ness personified

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    But what if you aren't introverted and just actually hate talking to boring strangers who don't want to engage in meaningful conversation

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    Mazdy Soraya

    Civilization came to the point where you need a mentor on how to talk and listen. We are not talking about rhetoric talking which is an art that few masters.

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