Those of you who know me may be surprised to learn that I’m an introvert.
Which doesn’t mean that I don’t like people or can’t talk to them. It just means that I don’t need that type of interaction to feel energized.
As I head to the Healthcare Design Expo & Conference in Orlando, Fla., this weekend, I’m looking forward to sharing and interacting with a lot of different people. But it is something I consciously work hard at doing.
Just Do It
Years ago when I was a young editor at Contract magazine attending my first Neocon at The Merchandise Mart in Chicago, I was given the assignment of going into multiple showrooms filled with people I didn’t know, finding the president of the company, introducing myself, and having a conversation.
An introvert’s worst nightmare.
And yet, I learned how to do it, and have become good at talking to the people standing in exhibit booths or showrooms at trade shows — whether I know them or not.
“How’s the show going for you?”
“What new products are you showing?”
“How’s business been for you this year?”
Now when I go to healthcare and design industry conferences, I usually know a lot of people. But I often sit in presentation sessions or at lunch tables next to people I don’t know.
Besides the usual “where are you from, who do you work for,” I ask other questions to get them talking.
“Have you ever been to this conference before?”
“What sessions have you been to that have been interesting? What was interesting about them?”
“Which session are you going to next? What do you hope to learn?”
“What’s the coolest thing you’re doing now?”
That last question I got from healthcare consultant Mary Malone, who served on The Center for Health Design’s board for a number of years. The great thing about it is that it’s a question that can be answered from a business or personal perspective.
Asking questions to people you don’t know in business and social situations is a skill that few people have. Most are more comfortable talking about themselves.
And it might be easier for us introverts to ask the questions and let the others talk. Listening is also important.
But it’s nice to be asked questions, too.
Check out these articles:
“What is Active Listening? Here are 6 Phrases to Demonstrate It,” by Amanda Zantal-Weiner on HubSpot.
“5 Strategies for Becoming a Better Conversationalist,” by author and entrepreneur Michael Hyatt.
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