How to Talk to People, According to Terry Gross

How to Talk to People, According to Terry Gross


“A good conversationalist is somebody who is fun to talk to,” she said. Ms. Gross, it’s worth noting, is very funny. If you can’t be funny, being mentally organized, reasonably concise and energetic will go a long way in impressing people.

Most of us will never find ourselves in the position of being interviewed by someone like Ms. Gross, but most of us will certainly find ourselves in the position of being interviewed by someone. Preparation, she says, is key. “It helps to organize your thoughts beforehand by thinking about the things you expect you’ll be asked and then reflecting on how you might answer,” she said.

A place where this can be especially helpful, particularly when meeting someone for the first time in a social setting, like a date, is considering how comfortable you are with opening up on certain topics. “It’s helpful to think through where your boundaries are, so that you’re not paralyzed agonizing over whether you’re willing to confide something or not.”

In a job interview, organizing your thoughts by thinking about the things you expect you’ll be asked and reflecting on how you might answer can help you navigate if things start to go badly.

Ms. Gross offered help for how to handle a job interview that’s going badly. “If somebody is asking you questions and you don’t feel that you have a strong response for it, say, ‘let me share an experience.’” From there, you can share an experience that points to your talents and areas where you excel.

An interview is a two-way street, which can be hard to remember when you’re the applicant who desperately wants to land the gig, but Ms. Gross gently reminds us that as an interviewee, you’re there to do some sussing out of your own. What is the job really like? What would be expected of you? Being prepared, too, can help you avoid getting caught off guard, or help you to more easily pivot the conversation to a subject that you’ve prepared yourself to talk about in a way that plays to your strengths.



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