I once took a personality test on 16personalities.com. Aside from its accuracy, from my view, it has either good and smarmy comprehensive description of your result. I got ENFP, which pretty much means I am an extrovert, likes to know everything in the world (jack of all trades), relies heavier on feeling rather than calculation, and stuff.
For a year, I keep on emphasizing to myself that I am what the website described. A sugar rush extrovert, passionate learner, strong intuition, and all. That thought was so strong back when I’m still a college student. So strong that it blinds me from my flaws.
Even though I embrace the “Don’t settle for less” slogan to every people who asked for my advice, I didn’t actually practice what I preached. Sadly, I just didn’t see my flaw.
I am an extrovert. I get easily comfortable around people. I have quite a lot of friends.
But I’m a terrible conversationalist. I get silent when I met someone with higher popularity or position than me. I stutter when they ask me something basic. My body language felt like an erratic robot. It’s just…. Terrible.
In college years, I didn’t see that much because I achieved a high position in an organization, I achieved as well in academics, so people keeps on coming to me asking a lot of things. Discuss. Or just want to know me.
That made me feel comfortable. I don’t bother finding new people, jump in a pool full of people, I did it several times, but not much.
Subconsciously, I am a hidden introvert. Confidence boost happened only when people asked me something or involve me in a talk.
It hits me hard when I left college. Had to jump to a new pond with nobody know who am I. A sudden realization that I am only a microscopic entity in a gigantic world. Much like an ant. A dust.
One day when I walk past through Periplus, a book store, I found a renowned book from Dale Carnegie titled How To Win Friends and Influence People. Without hesitating–as I read a review about this book–I picked it up from the shelf and dart through the cashier. Paid it. Open the plastic cover before even reaching the store entrance.
The book had been a company when I was in Thailand for 5 days. Every place when I can sit or at least stop from doing anything, I opened that book. It didn’t only function as a book, though, I remember when I was sitting in Wat Arun, several foreigners noticed me reading it and start a short discussion about it.
The most memorable advices from Carnegie are “to be interesting, be interested”. That’s a wake-up slap (a good one) for me, particularly because I was in the position that I thought people would be interested in me.
Shortly after that, I practiced the advice to an UBER driver. Along the way from my office to home, I discuss a lot mostly about his life, not focusing on mine. He told me about his struggles, family, the joy of having kids, the sudden-release of stress when he met his kids, and all. I keep on fishing with open-ended questions that made him talk literally a lot.
When I got home and about to pay the bill, he suddenly groped his pocket searching for his phone, and a wallpaper of his kids displayed there. He proudly say “this is the youngest, cute isn’t he?”.
That’s a pleasant and happy conversation I had there. So I kept on doing that for months.
However, things slightly changed when I had a bump in my life. You know, those bad days that results in making you less talkative and just want to go home fast? That’s the day. That happened for days, and what I did was just read a book. Coincidentally I bought another Murakami’s book which embraces loneliness. You know where it goes.
It all happened until yesterday, I stumbled upon a book from Larry King titled How to Talk to Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere. It is placed on my boss’ bookshelf in the office. I took it for a short skimming. But the words are so light it became a page-turner in a snap. Devoured 50 pages in 15 minutes or so.
The book delivers the same message with that of Dale Carnegie’s. It even refer to it. Larry King’s stories are even more relatable. It features a story where an army was interviewed by King, he’s dead nervous that when King asked an open-ended question he responded with three words or less. With King’s witchcraft, the army became open.
King was known as a great listener. He genuinely interested in what people told. Sincerely listen.
Another wake-up slap has come for me. I mean, if I ever want to be someone big, one thing I should start to do is build up a bigger network than before. How to start it? Of course by talking, building a conversation.
It’s going to be rough. What I fear is what people think about me as I talk to them. Do they observe my body language? My answer? My question? It all accumulates and become a hindrance for me to talk. How do I look from other people’s perspective? Of course, I look awkward.
But um…. I cannot let it slide anymore. Gotta start having a quality conversation, make new friends, have a discussion, and more.
Let’s call it now, for 2017, I’m gonna start a campaign for myself:
Make Conversations Great Again