17 March 2016


Theme Thursday 22

It turns out that the very first Theme Thursday link up I joined was back in 19 May 2011, when the theme was Male Person, though I waited until a whole month later to tell you about General Douglas MacArthur. If I hadn't already done this theme, I'd probably be telling you what I really think about Donald Trump. (Gasp!)

He's really not today's topic, but some time after he kicked off his campaign, I learned that there is a book that he and I have in common as an influence. I haven't had a chance to reread it, but I did find another by the same author that happens to fit the 26 May 2011 theme to perfection.

This Week's Theme:

The reason so many people are poor conversationalists is that they talk only about the things that interest them. That may be deadly boring to others. Reverse the process. Lead the other person into talking about his interests, his business, his golf score, his success--or if it is a mother, her children. Do that and listen intently and you will give pleasure; consequently, you will be considered a good conversationalist--even though you have done very little of the talking.

This is another book I found in my office's "library." My job is the sort that lulls people to sleep, and the team leaders are frequently thinking of ways to keep everyone alert. I guess someone thought we'd be more likely to stay awake if we had interesting things to read at our workstations, and more likely to have reading material if we found it there waiting for us than if we had to walk a couple of metres to the filing cabinets to get them. This was how I discovered Mary Higgins Clark (who has already inspired one Reading Diary entry) and rediscovered Dale Carnegie.

Several years ago, a short-term colleague told me, at the conclusion of our project, that he knew within the first day of dealing with me that I had read Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People. Never mind that I had only read it once, back in high school, and barely remembered it. Apparently, its lessons had stuck. (I wonder, however, whether my word for 2014 finally got it to unstick.)

This time around, what has stuck with me most is how much overlap Carnegie's advice to public speakers has with Khatzumoto's advice to language learners. All the practical steps Carnegie recommends for refining your use of your L1 have, we might say, separated-at-birth identical twins in all the practical steps Khatz recommends for mastering your use of L2. The main difference between them is Khatz's open awareness that he has not simply learned to speak Japanese, but has practically become Japanese. If Carnegie also understood that you cannot become better at speaking (an action) without also becoming a very different person (an actor), he kept it quieter.

So what is your favourite tip for improving public speaking or conversation skills? =)

Image Source: How to Develop Self-confidence and Influence People Through Public Speaking by Dale Carnegie


FrB said...

Okay - this is pretty basic, but it's essential.

It doesn't matter how intelligent or important your message is if you are not heard or understood. If you are inaudible, don't use your amplification/acoustics well, or express yourself in too complicated or condensed a manner, your message will be 100% lost.

Enbrethiliel said...


That's another great point to make during an election year, when it seems that many messages are 100% lost!

Sheila said...

I loved How to Win Friends and Influence People. Though I was a little insulted at the person who recommended it to me -- "do they think I don't know this stuff?" I mean, much of it seems obvious and it's directed toward grumpy businessmen whose lack of people skills is costing them money.

I didn't read the book you cited here, but I read another with the same message -- How to Talk to Practically Anyone About Practically Anything, by Barbara Walters. She recommends, if you have to talk to someone famous, researching them first, finding out their hobbies, and asking them about those topics. Everyone has something they love to talk about, if only someone will take an interest. And it kind of blew my mind, because at that age (13? 14?) I saw conversation as an opportunity to share all of MY great ideas, and the idea that other people, like me, preferred to talk than listen meant that I had to totally change the way I approached conversations.

Enbrethiliel said...


Do you know who swears by the opposite of Barbara Walters's advice? Larry King! He said that he won't even read an author's books in preparation for interviewing him, because if he knows too much about his interviewee, he will lose his audience. I wouldn't say he has the winning formula, though, because I'm pretty sure everyone who watched him talk to two members of Duran Duran considered it a total fumble when then-former member John Taylor came up in the conversation and King said: "John who?" (ROFLMAO!)

I like the golden mean blogging can be between sharing all MY great ideas and learning all of YOURS. =) When readers are also active commenters, I tailor my posts to (what I hope are) their interests as well as my own, just so everyone can keep talking. (And when a a post gets no comments at all, I feel like a failure. LOL!) But a lot of the people I liked bouncing ideas off when Shredded Cheddar was young have since moved on to other online haunts, and mostly lurkers (if any!) seem to have filled their places. It's hard to do research and to be accommodating in conversation when you don't know whom you're talking to!

Belfry Bat said...

Heh. Might have been an off-his-game moment; being surprised by ignorance can be met with "John who?" or by "Can you tell me more about John?", and ... I just don't know Larry King, but I expect he's capable of it.

But, now this interviewer is curious: did you catch that tidbit listening to King or reading "Talking to girls..."? (Or perhaps reading Larry King?)

Enbrethiliel said...


I know that I read that tidbit . . . but I can't remember where.

I watched a clip of King's Duran Duran interview on YouTube. Not for King, but for Duran Duran, of course. And honestly, all I remember of it is "John who?" LOL!!!

Itinérante said...

Maybe not taking oneself too seriously can help catching people's attention :)

Enbrethiliel said...


Catching and keeping the audience's attention are definitely essential!