Recently, I was sitting in a room full of highly intellectual people. These were not familiar faces, and we were supposed to basically just “talk” as it was a social outing. Now naturally, being someone who is a smooth talker and quite good with people around (so I believed), I thought that it’s going to be a cakewalk for me to build conversations. But it was anything but that.
These intellectual people basically were the ones who talked the most, and I was a silent listener. They had better and much more pleasing ideas and topics to talk about, and I had scant knowledge in those areas. After the meeting when I returned home, I pondered over this for a while, and then confronted one of my friends (A very smart girl) about this problem of mine. The advice she shared is something I can never forget in life…..
She said that even she used to face a similar problem when she had just joint college (one of the top 3 DU colleges that boasts of having highly intellectual minds and some great conversationalists). Initially, she found it difficult to adjust and contribute much to the conversations. But she’s always been a woman who just doesn’t give up. She learnt that she needed to have a broad horizon on all the topics, and the best way to do that is to READ. She read around 60 books in the next 6 months. And voila!, she had arrived, the bold, brazen LSR student who could just dominate any conversation. And by dominating, I do not mean talking nonsense, I mean talking captivating stuff which would glue the listeners to their seats!
Undoubtedly, Listening is a great skill. Many great philosophers have gone on to say that listening is as much important as talking, if not more. But staying quite in a room full of great minds, is perhaps not the best idea. You need to contribute, which can only happen when you have knowledge on subjects they are talking about.
So I have decided to make a new goal – I am going to read as many books as I can in the next 6 months, and probably write a blog post dedicated to those 6 months of reading post that.
Last week I read How to Win Friends and Influence People. It’s about subtle actions that we can do daily to be a more striking and charming person. Smiling at others, not criticizing people, showing your appreciation frequently by talking about what’s important to others, persuading people indirectly are some of the key takeaways from that book. Connections between positive emotions and smiling is not a one way street. By smiling, we not only make the people around happy we make ourselves happy as well.
I was in an illusory state of mind earlier as I thought I was a great conversationalist. But that one meeting changed my perception. So why did I think so highly of myself earlier in that regard? Well perhaps because I was in college, and around people whom I knew. I was in my comfort zone, talking about areas related to entertainment, and occasionally engineering (again my domain). Basically gossiping. Well that’s a trait that most people show even when they get out of college, and end up facing the same illusion as me. They think that just simply knowing their domain whole heartedly makes them a great conversationalist. This post is a wake up call to them as well.
Go, read, explore and learn. Broaden your horizon. Broaden your thinking. So that tomorrow when you are perhaps not in your comfort zone, you are effortlessly able to hold your own.