Thursday, April 3, 2008

Learning To Be A More Social Conversationalist (And Blog-Tagger)

I have to figure it can't hurt to try to become more socially rounded (though spending time blogging could argue against how good are my intentions) in today's world and since Penelope Trunk seems to be a voice of today in 21st century networking it makes sense to take heed of her advice.

This also allows me to test out the diigo blogging tool with which I have been experimenting. I can't completely put aside this weblog's geek-factor. This post includes summaries of a couple of her posts on this subject (the social one).

How to be more interesting to other people » Brazen Careerist by Penelope Trunk Diigo Annotated

But I did learn some lessons from my visual art mentors, and one really cool thing someone taught me is that the color I choose is most interesting where it intersects with another color. Just knowing the right color to use is not the clever, interesting thing. Rather, interesting is when I am unsure what the two colors will do when they interact. (Here’s a great set of paintings that illustrate this idea.)
The same is true for writing. The interesting part of writing is not the part of the piece where you know exactly where it’s going. The interesting part is when you get to an unplanned moment in a paragraph and you surprise yourself by what you write next. It’s the moment of uncertainty, when you have to look inside yourself to keep going, and pull out something you didn’t know you had before.
A while back I wrote about Moira Gunn, and how she is good at interviewing people because she can find what’s interesting about them. She interviews scientists, and she is a pro at finding the quirky, unexpected moment within the topic of their science.
How to start a quality conversation with someone you don’t know » Brazen Careerist by Penelope Trunk Diigo Annotated tags: career, psychology

The way that Gunn gets such fun and interesting interviews out of her subjects is by not having a preconception of what they’ll be talking about. She wants to find that spot where they are engaged and knowledgeable, because anyone on any topic will be interesting if they have that. She says the key is to be open to where the other person wants to go, and to listen.

It’s Gunn’s job to figure out a way to connect with these scientists and part of the fun of the interviews is hearing her do that, because it’s what we have to do all the time when we make small talk. Yes, the scientists are extremely smart, but Gunn says the hard part is to get them to the point where they are talking about something comprehensible.

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