20 Things I Know for Certain About Talking With People

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.

Philo of Alexandria

Over the last couple of months, in various ways and times, I’ve been reminded of the truth of Philo’s ancient observation.  

In workshops and classes, seminars and coaching, I’ve encountered numerous people who are striving to become “more” of who they want to be.  

And while the strivings are unique to each person, there is one core “battle” that seems more common than ever before.  

It’s summed up in the question people most often ask me, “How do I have a conversation?”  

People come to me for so many reasons, but eventually, they share their stranglehold fear: “I’m worried about what people will think of me because I don’t know how to carry on a conversation.”  

If you’ve been reading my posts, you know that my great conviction is that life is ALL about meeting – about connecting. 

And all connecting begins with a conversation.

A conversation is not a test.  It’s not a contest.  

It’s simply a chance to connect – for a few moments, for a period time or even for a lifetime!

Recently I sat on a Starbucks patio and banged out (in no particular order) the following list of what I know for sure about people – and conversations.  


  1. People are consistent, though not always logical.
  2. Everyone has the capacity to surprise us because “consistency” is not immutable.
  3. Don’t expect people to fully understand what they’re saying – I mean, do you understand what you’re saying all the time?
  4. Most people want to present themselves in the best possible way, though their tactics may not always be the “best” – desperation and unease kindle odd behavior.
  5. Humor goes a long way to breaking the ice – but there are also other ways to put people at ease – as often times a genuine smile will do the trick.
  6. Observe and ask questions based on your observations because people are continuously sending out clues.
  7. You never know what a conversation will lead to – a job, a friendship or maybe even a marriage proposal!
  8. Remain open to being challenged – to learn – to expand – from anyone – especially those outside your circle of comfort.
  9. Generational differences don’t matter when having a good conversation – good talk is good talk.
  10. I will not always understand the other person’s p.o.v. – but I can ask them to help me.
  11. I need to be present in a conversation – sometimes I’m better at it than other times – and that’s okay.
  12. I can’t leave a conversation up to the other person – I need to own my responsibility for my share.
  13. I want to give people something in our exchange – no matter how silly or profound – for why waste people’s time?
  14. I may not always like the other person, but the goal is always to seek the common good.
  15. I want to be in control – or at least in co-control – it’s all part of the dance.
  16. I must have some kind of animation – and know how to modulate it to the other’s needs.
  17. With some conversations the stakes are just not that high – and I don’t care about the outcome – and that’s okay, too.
  18. I am biased – some people I click with more readily than with others – I just need to be aware of those biases and not let them trip me up.
  19. I personally am guarded – residual, knee-jerk lack of trust – so I need to recognize this instinct and then move on (what’s yours?).
  20. Everybody has a story – and IS a story – and there is nothing more true or more profound about people than this point!

So, what do you know for sure about people?

now THAT’S the business of confidence!

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