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Are you an introvert who dreads small talk? Do you find yourself feeling tongue-tied and anxious in social situations? Or do you just find small talk a tedious impediment to getting to deeper, more meaningful conversations?

It’s true that most introverts prefer deep conversations over small talk. Often the mysteries of the universe or how to make the world a better place are far more interesting than the weather or the price of gas.  Of course, small talk is usually the gateway to building relationships and getting to those deeper conversations, but some introverts struggle with shyness, or anxiety, or lack of skills when it comes to small talk.  The good news is that you can overcome shyness and anxiety, and you can learn the skills to improve your conversations.  

In this episode, David talks with Rich Gallagher, psychotherapist and author of “Stress-Free Small Talk: How to Master the Art of Conversation and Take Control of Your Social Anxiety.”  We’ll discuss strategies for being successful in conversations. We’ll cover topics such as:

  • The difference between shyness, social anxiety, and introversion
  • How to change your thoughts around your fears
  • Good conversation starters
  • Making a good first impression as part of your personal brand
  • How to be an active listener

Listen now to learn to improve your conversation skills and get to those conversations you are looking for.

– – –

Richard S. Gallagher, LMFT is a psychotherapist based in upstate New York who specializes in treating anxiety disorders. A former customer service executive and public speaker, he is the author of numerous communications skills books including What to Say to a Porcupine, The Customer Service Survival Kit and How to Tell Anyone Anything. His books have been published in eight languages, and he has personally taught over 35,000 people worldwide how to communicate better in difficult interpersonal situations.

Rich has been published or featured in Time Magazine, CNN.com, BusinessWeek, Dale Carnegie training, morning drive radio, and numerous other media outlets.

Visit Rich online at www.smalltalkcoach.com

Get Rich’s Book: Stress-Free Small Talk: How to Master the Art of Conversation and Take Control of Your Social Anxiety

– – –

Contact the host of the Quiet and Strong Podcast: 

David Hall

Author, Speaker, Educator, Podcaster

quietandstrong.com

Gobio.link/quietandstrong

david [at] quietandstrong.com

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Podcast Transcript

00;00;00;00 – 00;00;21;02
Rich Gallagher
And you made a very good point about deeper conversations and introversion, because one of the signature traits of an introvert is, you know well, is that they might have a fully formed thought before they open their mouth. While extroverts tend to think by talking to people. And I always joke with clients of mine that have introversion that it’s really good that somebody actually thinks before they open their mouth and say something.

00;00;21;20 – 00;00;46;16
Rich Gallagher
But you raise a really important point about small talk, which is and we were talking about this informally before the podcast, which is a lot of books on small talk, really try to teach you how to be the life of the party, and it’s important to you to be who you are. And I’m perfectly okay with an introvert who isn’t much for classic small talk, who wants to have meaningful, deep conversations and want them to matter.

00;00;46;27 – 00;01;00;13
Rich Gallagher
And so to me, conversation skills should support being who you are, not being who you are.

00;01;02;26 – 00;01;24;10
David Hall
Hello and welcome to Episode 95 of the Quiet and Strong Podcast, especially for introverts. I’m your host, David Hall and the creator of Quiet and Strong Dot com. This a weekly podcast dedicated to understanding the strengths and needs of introverts. Introversion is not something to fix, but to be embraced. Normally we will air each episode on a Monday.

00;01;24;15 – 00;01;53;11
David Hall
Be sure to subscribe on your favorite platform. Leave me a review. That would mean a lot to me. Tell a friend about the podcast. Help get the word out there that introversion is a beautiful thing. Rich Gallagher is a psychotherapist based in upstate New York who specializes in treating anxiety disorders. A former customer service executive and public speaker, he is the author of numerous communication skills books, including What to Say to a Porcupine.

00;01;53;20 – 00;02;25;02
David Hall
The Customer Service Survival Kit and How to Tell Anyone Anything. His books have been published in eight languages and he has personally taught over 35,000 people worldwide how to communicate better in difficult interpersonal situation. Rich has been published or featured in Time magazine, CNN com Businessweek Dale Carnegie Training Morning Drive Radio and numerous other media outlets. I am very excited for my guest today.

00;02;25;02 – 00;02;27;27
David Hall
Rich. Rich, welcome to the Quiet and Strong podcast.

00;02;29;09 – 00;02;41;03
Rich Gallagher
Hi there, David. It’s great to be here and I’m really honored to be on this podcast. I love the way you frame introversion as a strength. It is a normal personality trait. I very much aligned with that. So it’s great to be here.

00;02;42;10 – 00;03;13;08
David Hall
All right. Thank you. Rich, I heard you on another podcast because small talk is definitely a big topic, an important topic for introverts. You know, some introverts lack the skills or have shyness or anxiety around it. Others may be perfectly confident, but they just don’t enjoy it. They want to get to the deep topics. And so I heard you on another podcast and you really on that podcast, you hit things to consider was shyness, anxiety and introversion, and they’re not the same thing.

00;03;13;22 – 00;03;33;14
David Hall
And then I was intrigued and I picked up your book and you really addressed those topics of shyness, social anxiety and introversion. And I’m really glad you’re here today because I think this will be a great conversation. So you’re now a therapist. It’s also a little bit about yourself and the different things you’ve done in your journey to becoming a therapist.

00;03;33;14 – 00;03;39;13
David Hall
And now you really work with people with anxiety, but also coach people with small talk training.

00;03;39;16 – 00;04;01;15
Rich Gallagher
Well, first of all, I’m kind of a mutt. I have an engineering degree and a very long technical career. And back in the 1970s, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, I was going to Cornell University’s first dual majors in engineering and psychology. People joke that I would grow up to build bridges that would talk people out of jumping off an and I actually did both careers in sequence.

00;04;01;15 – 00;04;23;01
Rich Gallagher
So I became a therapist in my fifties and that had a very long time before that. But in between there I eventually moved into management and became a customer service executive and then later an author and speaker on how to handle difficult customer situations. So for many years in the early 2000s, I made a living getting up in front of large audiences, pointing out my glasses and saying, Get angry at me.

00;04;23;01 – 00;04;45;03
Rich Gallagher
I think showing people how to diffuse that. I joke that from there I then decided to put myself in the middle of other people’s family conflicts. But in reality, I always had an interest in treating anxiety disorders. That’s something I dealt with personally, so that runs in my family and I’ve always been fascinated by the mechanics of how good psychotherapy can really change how well you function when you have anxiety disorders.

00;04;45;03 – 00;05;08;21
Rich Gallagher
And so on. So that’s why I became a therapist. My fifties and specialized in that is for small talk as to how I got into that one summer as a therapist, I had a group of about four or five patients who all had severe social anxiety that was interfering with how they were functioning in terms of, you know, they couldn’t go to school or couldn’t go to work.

00;05;08;28 – 00;05;26;28
Rich Gallagher
And almost in desperation, I wrote up sort of a Betty Crocker cookbook for how to have a nourishing 5 to 7 minute conversation. Because one thing that jumped out at me with all of these clients was they didn’t know what to say in a situation that was what was so frightening for them. It was like they had a 301.

00;05;26;28 – 00;05;43;20
Rich Gallagher
Spotlight on them. They didn’t know what to say. It’s just like if I get pushed on stage without any acting lessons. And so we used this conversation one on one e-book as a basis for doing a lot of role playing on the mechanics. And it worked really well. All of these people recovered and all these people got back to functioning again.

00;05;44;08 – 00;05;53;06
Rich Gallagher
I shared this online with the therapists and therapy communities, and that’s how Rockridge Press eventually got a hold of me and invited me to write this book. Stress free, small talk.

00;05;53;22 – 00;06;08;20
David Hall
Very good. Well, that’s what this show is going to be about today. So we’re going to cover all that maybe to start with just this talk about what is the difference between shyness and social anxiety and introversion, and can extroverts have shyness and social anxiety?

00;06;09;22 – 00;06;36;06
Rich Gallagher
That’s a great question. And the answer to that is yes. Extroverts absolutely can have shyness and social anxiety. And in fact, statistically, they do. Let’s start with shyness. Shyness is a normal discomfort of dealing with people because fear of consequence. So in other words, you’re nervous about going into a social situation because you’re worried that you’re going to say the wrong thing or worried that you’re going to make a bad impression, or perhaps you had a bad encounter with somebody.

00;06;36;06 – 00;06;56;16
Rich Gallagher
And now you’re worried about repeating that and having the same consequences happen to you. That affects about half of us. That’s almost a universal experience for people. Now, if you break this down to numbers that 75% of people in North America are extroverts and maybe 25% are introverts. So if you do the math, there’s a lot of extroverts who struggle with shyness as well.

00;06;57;15 – 00;07;20;03
Rich Gallagher
I’m going to jump ahead to social anxiety. Social anxiety is what like finest on steroids. So not only are you uncomfortable about it, which is quite normal, but now you have a discomfort, a phobia, a fear of social interaction. It’s actually interfering with your functioning. So it’s making it hard for you to go to work. It’s making hard for you to go to social events that you want to go to.

00;07;21;06 – 00;07;40;13
Rich Gallagher
Some people even have a hard time appearing in public or even getting their mail for fear that somebody might talk to them, that they might not know what to say. And then we get to introversion, which is your expertize, and I love the way you’ve always framed introverts in your podcast. Introversion is not a disorder. It’s not a phobia.

00;07;40;26 – 00;08;02;15
Rich Gallagher
It’s a perfectly normal way of being. And as you point out very well in your other podcast, many introverts are affable, articulate and socially adept. Many of them don’t need the kind of conversations, skills that I teach in this book, for example. But they have a limited amount of energy for dealing with people. Extroverts gain energy by interacting with other people.

00;08;02;25 – 00;08;08;01
Rich Gallagher
Introverts are drained of their energy by this. By dealing with them.

00;08;09;15 – 00;08;32;28
David Hall
Yeah, for sure. And sometimes the drain can come from a little too much small talk because the introverts may want to get on to the deeper conversations and sometimes the deeper conversations can actually be energizing. But like you said, introversion is not something that you treat, it’s just something that you understand and embrace. And so, yeah, well-said and all those things.

00;08;33;09 – 00;08;54;26
Rich Gallagher
Absolutely. And you made a very good point about deeper conversations and introversion, because one of the signature traits of an introvert, as you know well, is that they like to have a fully formed thought before they open their mouth, while extroverts tend to think by talking to people. And I always joke with clients of mine that have introversion that it’s really good that somebody actually thinks before they open their mouth and say something.

00;08;55;14 – 00;09;20;23
Rich Gallagher
But you raise a really important point about small talk, which is and we’re talking about this informally before the podcast, which is a lot of books on small talk, really try to teach you how to be the life of the party. And it’s important that you be who you are. And I’m perfectly okay with an introvert who isn’t much for classic small talk, who wants to have meaningful, deep conversations and want them to matter.

00;09;20;23 – 00;09;26;16
Rich Gallagher
And so to me, conversation skills should support being who you are, not being who you are.

00;09;28;05 – 00;09;52;24
David Hall
Yeah, absolutely. Definitely. It’s something I’ve struggled with earlier, you know, learning to make conversation. But I did realize it was needed to get to the conversations that I wanted to have to build, the relationships I wanted to have. Because, again, that’s a myth that we must on this show. Introverts need relationships. We like people. It’s just, you know, the interactions might look a little different that we want, but small talk is a necessary part of all that.

00;09;52;27 – 00;10;07;27
David Hall
But sometimes, you know, it just depends on the situation. You can get better at it. Sometimes I do enjoy it and every once in a while I might avoid some if I can. But, you know, it’s a very important part for those that need to get better at it. You can.

00;10;08;24 – 00;10;25;27
Rich Gallagher
That’s right. Because it’s really a matter of skills and there’s important historical and biological purpose, but kind of kind of small talk that’s helpful for us. And that dates back to older people because when you ran into an okay person, you had no idea if that person was there to help you or to kill you and take your possessions.

00;10;25;27 – 00;10;49;08
Rich Gallagher
And so when you’re on a date with somebody, when you’re in a job interview, when you’re alone and obviously with somebody, the things you say transferred very important data to the other person about how safe they are, whether you have connections in common, whether you’re somebody that they want to work with. And so those are the kind of skills that people want to develop to get more of what they want in their life.

00;10;49;08 – 00;11;09;09
David Hall
One thing that I talk a lot about, too, is introverts, we think, and then we speak, and most of it most of the time. For me, that’s not a choice. That’s just the way my mind works. You know, sometimes if I thought about something a lot, like, ironically, introversion, I could speak forever on introversion and not have to think first.

00;11;10;01 – 00;11;33;03
David Hall
Then, you know, I have to think first. But if you don’t understand that and the extrovert is thinking out loud and you’re waiting to think, and maybe especially when you’re younger, people are saying, Why are you so quiet then if you don’t understand that that can cause shyness and anxiety by it’s not understanding how you may be different, but understanding that it’s a strength that you are deep thinker.

00;11;33;03 – 00;11;49;00
David Hall
It’s like you said a second ago, it can also keep bad trouble for thinking first before you speak, if you understand it’s a strength and also just sometimes letting people know. I’m thinking, you know, ah, give me some time to think about that, you know? Absolutely.

00;11;49;00 – 00;12;12;16
Rich Gallagher
And being comfortable with silence is actually a good skill to have in a conversation as well. But you’ve touched on something that actually, I think dovetails very importantly with conversation skills for introverts, which is that learning to have a good conversation with somebody, especially in terms of small talk, is involved, I guess, for lack of a better term, mechanics.

00;12;12;23 – 00;12;48;06
Rich Gallagher
And so, for example, you know, an introvert that likes to think first before they speak, one of the cardinal rules for opening conversation is you need to have preparation ahead of time to have prepared openings, prepared questions that you’d be likely to want to ask the kind of people in front of you, whatever your event is. And so that preparation dovetails very nicely with the need to think first and so forth a little later in the podcast, we’ll also talk about what I think is the core of having a good conversation, which is how to acknowledge other people, because there’s a lot of mechanics about what you say back to somebody when they share something

00;12;48;06 – 00;13;10;22
Rich Gallagher
about themselves or when they answer a question of yours. So they feel heard insults. Those are all skills. You learn them, pull them out of your back pocket when you need them. When the when somebody has social anxieties in a conversation, it feels like a musical improvization they’re on stage with a 300 watt spotlight on them, listening to every note, and if they make one wrong note, everybody notices.

00;13;10;22 – 00;13;31;17
Rich Gallagher
And in reality, if you go to a restaurant and listen to people having nourishing conversations with each other, there is an underlying set of mechanics that makes those conversations work well. And when you know those mechanics, that takes away a lot of the fear and lets you be an introvert and still have a very good conversation.

00;13;31;17 – 00;13;41;20
David Hall
Yeah. So speaking of fear, I think I read in your book that you didn’t necessarily agree with feel the fear and do it anyway. What might be wrong with that? And how do we change our thoughts around our fears that we have?

00;13;42;06 – 00;14;04;08
Rich Gallagher
And I’ve got two problems with slogans like that. First, I felt, you know, overcoming fears, especially when it comes to conversations, is, you know, like I mentioned, a matter of skills not being brave. If you haven’t learned those skills, all the bravery in the world isn’t going to help you have a better conversation. So and I look at this is no different from acting, music or any other skill in life.

00;14;05;02 – 00;14;26;21
Rich Gallagher
The second thing is, if you have those skills, which is about a third of people with social anxiety, just white knuckling your way through situations I find often will sensitize people to situations that I want them to desensitize to. So for me, good treatment for any fear involves first changing the way you think about it, which doesn’t involve any bravery at all.

00;14;26;21 – 00;14;54;01
Rich Gallagher
It involves, you know, we’re breaking down, you know, the specifics of what you’re telling yourself and and reframing those statements and then gradually and comfortably learning to be fully present in situations you’re avoiding a little bit at a time. So so the feel of fear and do it anyway types they’re talking about the very limited case where you bravely do something and then you say, wow, I did that and you feel better about it.

00;14;54;01 – 00;15;01;19
Rich Gallagher
Which does happen sometimes in some situations. But I think those are good motivational slogans and generally very bad therapy.

00;15;02;07 – 00;15;22;19
David Hall
Yeah, what I say too is it’s the fear that’s causing you the anxiety. And if you don’t change that thought, the next time, you’re likely going to feel that fear again because you didn’t change your thought like this. Is it really scary? And there’s lots of different ways you can approach that, but if you’re scared to approach a situation, you’ve got to think about that.

00;15;22;19 – 00;15;39;18
David Hall
Like, Why is this scaring me? What? You know, how can I change my fear around this? But if you don’t do that, if you just keep going into the same situation and trying to get out of your comfort zone, as they say, you need to change your comfort zone. You need to say this isn’t a scary thing. This is a normal thing that people do.

00;15;39;18 – 00;15;41;26
David Hall
I can do this. Those kinds of things, actually.

00;15;42;24 – 00;16;17;11
Rich Gallagher
You know, in this case, in one of my other pet peeves, which is positive thinking, positive thinking has no clinical research behind it. A positive psychology actually does. And that’s actually has a an Ivy League research department at Penn. Yeah. The difference with that kind of psychology or what I call cognitive behavioral psychology, which is what I practice, involves capturing the story, telling yourself in writing, looking at so-called common cognitive distortions or errors, and thinking where you’re overexaggerating, predicting the future that may or may not happen, using emotionally and logically charged reasoning.

00;16;17;25 – 00;16;47;09
Rich Gallagher
And where you rewrite those statements so that those distortions are no longer true. A good example is when I first started making a full time living as a public speaker, I thought to myself, Well, I’d better not make a mistake. It could destroy my career if something goes wrong here. So here’s the reframe after years of doing this and you know, getting my knees skinned and so forth in the business, what I eventually would tell myself before I got up in front of an audience was I do this 40 or 50 times a year.

00;16;47;09 – 00;16;59;26
Rich Gallagher
I can’t possibly do this this often without completely performing at least twice. And so if today’s my day to day life, I’m still going to get paid anyway. And in that reframe, then it helps me feel better as I go into the situation.

00;17;00;16 – 00;17;20;29
David Hall
Yeah, that’s great. And I love public speaking and some people are like, What? You’re introvert. I love it. What we’re talking about is something that’s really helped me overcome. Anxiety is, you know what? I’m going to prepare. Like we’ve been saying, I’m going to prepare for this speech. I’m going to do my best preparation. The reason they’re asking me to speak is because I know this topic.

00;17;21;01 – 00;17;35;12
David Hall
I’m an expert in this topic, but like you’re saying, I am not perfect. And the thing that I’ve told myself is guess what? Nobody in this audience is perfect either, you know, and that’s really helped me. But again, introverts can love public speaking, too.

00;17;36;25 – 00;17;58;02
Rich Gallagher
And I love everything that you’re saying. You’re saying your you know, your topic, you’re there for a reason. The audience is in your care because of that. And on top of that, you also get to be human. Things can go wrong. It’s okay. Any professional speaker who’s done this for a long time learns how to handle hecklers, learns how to handle situations where the energy isn’t right in the audience.

00;17;58;02 – 00;18;03;16
Rich Gallagher
And then again, those are skills to that. You just develop over time and it’s okay to make mistakes.

00;18;04;27 – 00;18;18;15
David Hall
Yeah, yeah, definitely the hecklers. Or maybe it’s even just the questions and answers. You know, sometimes it’s hard to prepare for all that. So right. We do our best and that’s what you need to learn to work around those things to.

00;18;18;25 – 00;18;35;08
Rich Gallagher
Exactly correct. I mean, once, for example, you know, I used to give a lot of, you know, talks on how to handle difficult conversations. And I had one technique for diffusing somebody who talked too much. And I had somebody come up on stage and they just talked and talked and talked over me. So I finally turn to the answer.

00;18;35;15 – 00;18;37;26
Rich Gallagher
I’ve never said this in 20 years of speaking, I give up.

00;18;38;12 – 00;18;59;12
David Hall
Oh, wow. So you picked somebody good. That’s awesome. Okay, well, in your book, you give a guide to good conversation starters, and I think in the book, you call that the good, bad and the ugly. Tell us about that.

00;19;00;07 – 00;19;28;04
Rich Gallagher
The I think having prepared openings is really important because a first impression will cover a multitude of sins in a conversation. Good openings are things that build connection with the other people or help the other person learn about who you are. So to me, good openings are sharing your interests, asking the other person about their interests, asking the other person what they’re like or what’s their preferences are bad openings are the weather because that’s really boring.

00;19;28;12 – 00;19;45;18
Rich Gallagher
Generally, I think relationships is something I have to be careful about because unless you know somebody really well, if you ask, you know, how’s your family? And they just got divorced or Junior just got arrested again, that may be putting them in an awkward situation. So it’s best to let them lead about their personal lives and their relationships.

00;19;45;18 – 00;20;07;28
Rich Gallagher
For example, in terms of the ugly, you know, we get into areas like religion and politics or criticize than anything. And I think you have to be extremely careful about criticism. A couple of personal examples that I could think of when people have talked to me, for example, is back when I was in college, I was out to dinner with a couple of fellow students and they were ripping their professors to shreds.

00;20;08;07 – 00;20;13;20
Rich Gallagher
And finally they lead into the department chairman of our department not realizing he was my father.

00;20;14;08 – 00;20;15;15
David Hall
So no, they.

00;20;15;15 – 00;20;16;05
Rich Gallagher
Had no idea.

00;20;16;25 – 00;20;17;05
David Hall
Wow.

00;20;18;03 – 00;20;36;27
Rich Gallagher
So I was polite. I smile. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t defend them, you know. But the you know, it’s still left. I’ve made an impression on me. Or if people complain about other other groups of people, for example, not knowing what your connections might be. I have an Irish surname, you know, through intermarriage, but I’m actually a Czech citizen.

00;20;36;27 – 00;20;44;24
Rich Gallagher
I’m very proud of my heritage. So you may not know, you know, who you’re criticizing. If you, you know, complained about your last trip to Prague for example.

00;20;45;17 – 00;21;12;22
David Hall
Right. Right. Well, so, again, it can be a skill that’s learned, you know, making good conversation. The other thing is sometimes people say as a general statement, introverts are great listeners, and I don’t fully agree with that. I think we can be. But I think that sometimes that comes from maybe like the the person you invited up on stage.

00;21;12;22 – 00;21;30;27
David Hall
Maybe they’re just talking nonstop, you know. So I don’t like it. I don’t like introverts characterized as good listeners just because maybe the other person is talking and thinking they’re being listened to. So but introverts can be good listeners, but I think for some people it might come more naturally than others. How can we learn to be good listeners?

00;21;31;14 – 00;21;57;03
Rich Gallagher
I, I really like what you just said, and I agree 100% with it because I’ll agree with that statement this far. Introverts, because again, they tend to think and give space for their own thought process. They’re better than most people giving people the time and space to respond in a conversation. But that is not listening. Listening is a matter of acknowledging the other person, which is a skill that gets learned, and I think it’s most important skill.

00;21;57;21 – 00;22;14;21
Rich Gallagher
So, you know, since you brought that up, let me walk you through how you acknowledge people, because that’s the thing that gives introverts the most control in conversation, gives them the confidence to know that whatever the other person says, they can pull a response out of their back pocket that will make the other person feel heard and felt.

00;22;15;12 – 00;22;36;11
Rich Gallagher
And I call that the four octave levels of acknowledgment. Well, what was thought to the level which is very mechanical, very simple, but also very powerful, is acknowledge or is paraphrasing. Paraphrasing is simply where you take what the other person says gift wrap it in your own words. And the more you use your own language to play it back to them, the better.

00;22;36;22 – 00;23;05;00
Rich Gallagher
And you simply hand their thought right back to them. So somebody says, My son just got into college and I respond by saying, Wow, so you shouldn’t get expensive in university. That’s wonderful. That’s a good acknowledgment that makes the other person feel good. I’ll give you an example of how powerful paraphrasing is. Even though this is sort of a mechanical bargain basement form of acknowledgment, I’m up on stage in front of 500 people at a major university and I ask assume from the stage, what are your biggest problems?

00;23;05;00 – 00;23;25;02
Rich Gallagher
And one person raised their hand, said, Graduation idea. People call and say, hi, I’m ready to graduate. And then it turns out they are two credit short or Mr. Requirement and know you’re not going to graduate. So I asked them to come up on stage to role play that with me. And this person did a wonderful job. She yelled and screamed at me about how this is holding up her job and it’s all my fault.

00;23;25;02 – 00;23;41;23
Rich Gallagher
And so all I did was exactly what I told the audience I would do. I leaned in and I paraphrased everything she said. I said, Wow, this is really inconveniencing you. You’ve got a job in two weeks. We’ve got to figure out a way to help you graduate as soon as possible. So she’s standing there with this look of stunned silence on her face.

00;23;41;23 – 00;23;57;25
Rich Gallagher
And I’m trying to get angry at this guy. And now I don’t know what to say. He’s taken all my good lines. So paraphrasing was something that you can pull out of your back pocket anytime you need it. So now I’m going to move on from there to the next octane level, which is which is what I call observation.

00;23;58;05 – 00;24;23;02
Rich Gallagher
And that’s where instead of just handling back their thought, you’re playing back what you think they’re feeling. You can’t crack open their head and see what they’re feeling. So you have to take a guess at it and guess what is actually okay in that situation before I became a therapist, I was a crisis line counselor. We were taught to play back the other person’s feelings, to say, Well, your husband just left you and you’re feeling very frightened, and they may come back and say, Oh, no, I’m not frightened, I’m angry.

00;24;23;07 – 00;24;45;26
Rich Gallagher
But they still appreciate the fact that you’re locked in on how they’re feeling. The only caveat with this octane level is unless you have a good connection with the other person, this is the only kind of acknowledgment that could sound patronizing. So if I say, you know, David, I tend to have a lot of anger here that could come off like, you know, I’m patronizing, but if I say, Hey, David, that was really frustrating.

00;24;45;26 – 00;25;10;07
Rich Gallagher
Now we’re connected. So I put a little asterisks in front of that one to use it with caution, but that can be very powerful. The next octane level, which I like even better, because it’s even safer and even more powerful, is validation. So so far, paraphrasing is handing them their thought. Observation is handing them their feeling. Validation says, I see how you feel and I think your feelings are valid.

00;25;10;07 – 00;25;25;24
Rich Gallagher
I think you have a right to feel that way. You can do this even if you disagree with other people, because all you have to do is just compare them to other people and just invite a big crowd in your answer and say, Wow, nobody likes having to do their taxes. Everybody hates it when we’re stuck in traffic.

00;25;27;18 – 00;25;55;29
Rich Gallagher
And so now you’re building a connection with them and think about things like political arguments. For example, you can validate people to the cows, come home even if you violently disagree with their view of the world. So it’s an extremely powerful tool for building bridges with people you may or may not agree with. And then finally, the highest octane level is ID, where you say, you know, I would feel that way if that happened to me and you should only use it if it’s actually true.

00;25;56;03 – 00;26;15;24
Rich Gallagher
Somebody tells me they’re having a difficult pregnancy. I can’t identify with that and so forth. So if something really crosses your boundaries, then you don’t have to identify with it either. But so. So you just choose the appropriate octane level, plug in the words, turn the crank and move safely to the conversation that’s listening.

00;26;16;22 – 00;26;25;27
David Hall
Yeah, absolutely. And just another thing I’ve really learned is to be to be present with that person that you’re listening to.

00;26;26;10 – 00;26;29;21
Rich Gallagher
Absolutely delighting in their company.

00;26;29;21 – 00;26;59;01
David Hall
And, you know, I know some introverts, especially when shyness or social anxiety or they’re they may just, you know, someone’s there, you’re in a conversation. And when you’re shy, you may just kind of respond to their questions and not not be present with them. And, you know, because you’re just trying to get through. But really, it’s it is a matter of making sure it’s a conversation and not just just one sided.

00;26;59;01 – 00;27;18;02
Rich Gallagher
Absolutely. In fact, when I coached people who are introverts about conversation skills, that’s usually the single biggest thing that I troubleshoot with them is I have a rule that I call the 3 to 1 rule, which is after every three questions for the other person, share something about yourself so that it’s a dialog and not just an interrogation.

00;27;18;02 – 00;27;29;20
Rich Gallagher
You can make that the 421 rule or the 3 to 2 rule or whatever fits your personality. But the key is to understand that it’s a dialog that involves dance with two partners where you’re sharing some of yourself in that conversation.

00;27;31;03 – 00;27;38;01
David Hall
Yeah, sometimes what I do is I may ask them a similar question right back to them that they ask about me.

00;27;39;02 – 00;27;49;29
Rich Gallagher
Right? Absolutely. Because they’ve shown interest in that. So that’s that’s actually a very it’s a very canny technique for keeping a conversation going. You’ve already established that something of interest to them. So you’re continuing on that thread.

00;27;50;20 – 00;28;11;07
David Hall
Yeah. You mentioned, you know, you don’t want to come off as an interrogator. I’m definitely guilty of that sometimes because I’m an analytical person and my career has been working with students. And so sometimes I want to get a lot of information so I could be the best help. And sometimes I might just say that, Hey, I’m going to ask you a lot of questions so I can help you.

00;28;11;16 – 00;28;23;24
David Hall
And that seems to help. And if I don’t make that one little statement, then it does feel like an interrogation and they’re very uncomfortable. But if I just say, hey, you know what, I’m going to ask you a lot of questions that seem to really help.

00;28;24;15 – 00;28;42;10
Rich Gallagher
What you’re doing is you’re using what I call framing statement. You’re advertising upfront what you’re about to do and then doing it, which takes away, you know, the the fear that the other person has is that you don’t know where you’re going. You know, I listen to your other podcast. You’re very adroit at, you know, keeping the questions flowing very smoothly.

00;28;42;10 – 00;28;45;02
Rich Gallagher
So I’m imagining that something has developed over time.

00;28;45;02 – 00;29;08;18
David Hall
Oh, yeah. And that’s why I’m doing this is because it can be learned. Like you will say, you can get really good at this. But for me, I know that when I became more successful is when I understood my introversion. And to me there’s a lot of people that talk about that. It’s a difference in energy, which I believe that, but it’s also like it sounds, it’s a turning inward.

00;29;09;01 – 00;29;43;27
David Hall
And so I definitely naturally think deeply more of a thinker than a feeler. Some of my introverts out there are more feelers, and that’s a big difference. But we spend more time thinking and feeling inside. We go into our heads a lot and everybody does both. Everybody pays attention to the outer world, the inner world. But I’ve realized that part of me is it’s why I’m an introvert is because I’m turning inward to my imagination more often than not, and understanding that that it’s a gift, that you have gifts with it and understanding that I think before I speak, it has made all the difference.

00;29;43;27 – 00;30;09;23
Rich Gallagher
I agree 100% with that framing. I mean, for example, the fact that introverts tend to be more fully present with people because of the time and space they give themselves and each other. That can be a huge advantage in a conversation. Think about a networking event, for example, where people are looking to meet people for business reasons, for example, you know, have you ever been to a networking event where people are just, you know, foaming at the mouth to try to make a sale or try to build a connection?

00;30;10;01 – 00;30;33;07
Rich Gallagher
Whereas I’ve discovered this is something I’m a flaming extra in, something I’ve learned from observing other introverts that simply delighting in the company of other people has really built some of my most valuable connections with people with no concern of whether I’m going to sell them anything or where they’re going to cross each other’s paths with silver. And that’s something that I think introverts have as a natural gift and a conversation.

00;30;34;19 – 00;30;53;04
David Hall
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Let’s talk about that networking event you might go to and a lot of introverts might dread that kind of thing that we’ve talked about. It’s important to prepare so you can prepare for the event. You can think about the kinds of things you want to talk about, maybe the people that you want to talk to, all that good stuff.

00;30;53;04 – 00;31;09;21
David Hall
You mentioned in the book that the conversations you have, especially maybe one of these networking events, is part of your personal brand, is part of your personal branding. How do you how do you make sure that you’re building your personal brand is you’re starting to have these conversations?

00;31;10;12 – 00;31;36;14
Rich Gallagher
I think the key here is to use conversation skills to expose who you are to other people. And that’s you and I talk offline about how we both don’t like it when books on small talk, a conversation skills focus on how to be the life of the party. That’s not who you are. Because an important purpose of the conversation is to brand yourself to other people because they’re not just evaluating you, you’re evaluating them as well.

00;31;36;15 – 00;32;14;27
Rich Gallagher
You’re trying to find people who are your peeps in your tribe and who are compatible with the way you are. And so branding yourself as somebody who’s thoughtful, polite, gives people time and space, you let’s say if you’re going on a date with somebody, you want that person to know who you really are. And so and I’m going to circle back to what you said earlier about framing statements, letting people know, using a framing statement, what you’re like upfront, and to set those expectations with people in on a date, in a networking situation, in a job interview that can be extremely powerful for people.

00;32;15;14 – 00;32;37;06
Rich Gallagher
I’ll give you an opposite example of that. I used to work at a company in California where we taught training courses and they would cater lunch. If we had visitors who were vegetarian, they’d serve them like a salad or something like that. And so I got in the habit of if we had anybody visiting from India that we would I would take them out to a good Indian restaurant, for example.

00;32;37;16 – 00;32;56;16
Rich Gallagher
And one of the people I took out to lunch who was a professor, the first thing he said to me says, Hey, Rich, you know what? Typical Indians are the quiet, right? No, that’s not me. I’ve got an ego is big, all outdoors. And we just hit it off famously because he defined himself. And, you know, he and I were very compatible as good friends and that was a lifelong friendship from there.

00;32;57;15 – 00;33;18;21
David Hall
Very good at the networking event. I know that something something that introverts may be uncomfortable with is approaching that conversation that may be already a taking place. Or maybe they get into the conversation and then how do they exit the conversation in a good way? I know you’ve written about that as well. Yeah.

00;33;19;00 – 00;33;40;29
Rich Gallagher
Absolutely. There’s mechanics to both those situations. The first, let’s take the situation of breaking into a conversation which a lot of people find very uncomfortable. Yes, that’s actually that actually breaks down into fairly procedural steps, which is first, you get physically proximate to the group of people and then watch their body language. Are they closing ranks away from you or they or do they not mind that you’re on the periphery either?

00;33;41;10 – 00;33;57;26
Rich Gallagher
So just read the energy first and decide if this is a conversation you want to break into. Then if you can, what you do. And this is a skill not just for breaking into existing conversations, but this is also one of the other skills that we teach in the middle of a one on one conversation that you’re already in.

00;33;58;11 – 00;34;17;24
Rich Gallagher
You look for ledges to climb onto to link whatever the other person is saying to what you want to do. Now, if you’re trying to break into a conversation that ledge may take the form of you hear somebody say something and then you can jump in and say, Wow, I’m really interested in that too. Or, you know, here’s something I know about that.

00;34;17;24 – 00;34;38;25
Rich Gallagher
One of the shortest job interviews I ever had was I was getting a demonstration of a technical product, and he didn’t know anything about my background. And he said, I generate these surfaces using bi cubic functions. And I said, Oh, very interesting. I did something very similar by quadratic surfaces and average the normals. And you’re telling me he said, would you like a job?

00;34;38;25 – 00;35;03;02
Rich Gallagher
Because he knew I spoke his language. Oh, so. Or you can also find these ledges with people. So let’s say, you know somebody in the group and say, hey, John, good to see you again. So again, prepared hooks, physical proximity and reading the energy is how you painlessly insert yourself into an existing conversation. And when you’re in a one on one or group conversation, you’re already.

00;35;03;02 – 00;35;11;18
Rich Gallagher
And that also is an ongoing process of looking for ledges to tie what the other person says to things you might contribute or want to talk about.

00;35;12;07 – 00;35;17;13
David Hall
Then you’ve had a good conversation. How do you exit gracefully when you’re ready to exit?

00;35;17;19 – 00;35;43;21
Rich Gallagher
Absolutely. I was on another podcast recently where the host joked about the Irish goodbye, where you just kind of ghost you. Yeah, yeah. And that’s okay. But there’s a very powerful psychological principle here, which is psychologists will tell you that people remember the last thing they heard in a conversation. So if you have a knock down, drag out fight with somebody all day and then the smiling and shaking hands with them, at the end of it, that goes your memory.

00;35;43;21 – 00;36;03;01
Rich Gallagher
Banks is a good encounter if you have a great day with your best friend, but you end up with crosswords at the end that goes in your memory bank. As a bad encounter, you can leverage that psychology to make the best of adult conversation by having a very enthusiastic closing, by saying, Wow, it’s great. It was great to meet you, George.

00;36;03;01 – 00;36;19;19
Rich Gallagher
I have to run to meet my other colleague here, but I really enjoyed talking to you. I hope we can meet again. So this is one area where being enthusiastic and positive, even if that’s a role that you take on, can be very useful.

00;36;19;19 – 00;36;46;16
David Hall
Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s really important. You know, it’s really acknowledging that you enjoyed the conversation and that will be remembered, you know, that’s absolutely any other advice for attending because again, networking, networking events especially, that’s that’s a big topic for introverts. Introverts do sometimes struggle. We’ve we’ve had these kinds of conversations on the show and the other small talk kind of advice for the networking event.

00;36;47;10 – 00;37;09;07
Rich Gallagher
I think the important thing in any conversation is the content of the conversation isn’t as important as how you make the other person feel. And I’ll give you an example of this. When I was 18 years old, I was working at a department store in the stockroom, and there was this incredibly attractive woman there. And the first thing she ever said to me was, you know, I notice you’re always shuffling your feet when you walk by and I wish you would pick up your feet.

00;37;09;07 – 00;37;25;29
Rich Gallagher
It’s really annoying. So that’s not the greatest conversation starter in the world, right. But but the thing is, I reacted with good humor and courtesy and acknowledge and normalized. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but whatever I did most of the work because we’ve been married for 45 years now.

00;37;26;10 – 00;37;31;14
David Hall
Oh, wow. Okay So you must have done something, right?

00;37;31;21 – 00;37;56;16
Rich Gallagher
Exactly. So it’s so I wouldn’t obsess about, you know, having the right content, saying the right words. I would just lean on your mechanics and know that those mechanics will carry you with practice. And I guess, you know, I want to circle this back to kind of your whole mission in this podcast, which is it’s okay and in fact, a strength to be an introvert.

00;37;56;16 – 00;38;10;29
Rich Gallagher
And your goal in learning good conversation skills is to learn how to comfortably be you and express you to whoever you’re interviewing with, dating, networking with, or, you know, finding yourself sitting next to the bus with.

00;38;11;25 – 00;38;23;18
David Hall
Yeah, absolutely. And I always say to that you can’t prepare for things, but at the same time, sometimes you’re going to be in situations where you’re not going to be prepared. And that’s okay.

00;38;23;29 – 00;38;25;03
Rich Gallagher
Of course. Absolutely.

00;38;25;15 – 00;38;35;18
David Hall
It’s sometimes it’s might be. Oh, let me think about that for a second. Give me a minute or maybe I’ll call you tomorrow or whatever, whatever it is.

00;38;35;25 – 00;38;57;17
Rich Gallagher
Absolutely. One of the things I teach people is try to be comfortable silence, for example, you know, the value of actually smiling during the pause is underrated because when you transmit to other person that you’re comfortable with that silence, that gives the other person the time and space to fill in the conversation as well. And silence is often a signal that a conversation is ready to be brought in first landing, too.

00;38;58;14 – 00;39;12;07
David Hall
Yeah. And another thing on that, you know, we do get very uncomfortable with silence, both introverts and extroverts, and we feel like something’s wrong. But I heard once heard someone say, you know what? If their silence, it means everybody’s quiet. So it’s okay.

00;39;12;28 – 00;39;26;15
Rich Gallagher
That’s exactly correct. You know, the onus is on both people. Conversations are advanced with multiple partners, and in your comfort with silence, with appropriate amounts of silence is something that brands people very well.

00;39;27;13 – 00;39;36;08
David Hall
Yeah. And that’s why it’s just important to have these kinds of conversations with everybody so everybody realizes, you know what, it’s okay, it’s normal.

00;39;36;08 – 00;39;55;18
Rich Gallagher
Absolutely. If there’s any takeaway message that I would give to your audience, it’s to use conversation skills to accomplish the things that you want to be doing that are hard for you not to be somebody else, not to meet some norm of what a good conversationalist is like. You’re perfectly okay as you are.

00;39;55;18 – 00;40;08;28
David Hall
Yeah, probably. You’re. You’re brilliant. TGR You just need to get to know who that person is exactly. Wow. This has been a very helpful conversation in Rich. Is there anything else that you want to share today?

00;40;09;25 – 00;40;28;08
Rich Gallagher
Well, you know, I think I love the questions you’ve been asking today because you’re framing things. You’re stealing my good lines. First of all, because a lot of the techniques that you’re cheering are things I teach people that we can break down. And so that’s really my takeaway message, is that, you know, there’s hope for skills like conversations.

00;40;28;14 – 00;40;44;29
Rich Gallagher
If you look at it in terms of mechanics and not just a fear they have to overcome. As I mentioned, the beginning of the podcast about two thirds of people with social anxiety, the reason that they’re so anxious is because they don’t have the skills yet. It’s exactly the same as if I tried to act without an acting lesson.

00;40;44;29 – 00;41;08;10
Rich Gallagher
And then for the other one third, they’re articulate, they’re affable, they know exactly what to say. But it’s just uncomfortable to be in those situations with people that is treated differently as a fear phobia with things like gradual exposure or cognitive behavioral therapy and so forth. But really the good news in all of this is that all of these things are treatable and all of these things are things where if there’s places you want to go, there’s strategies for getting there.

00;41;09;03 – 00;41;26;05
David Hall
Yeah, well said. Well said. That’s it’s you can overcome your shyness, you’re excited, you’re not going to overcome your introversion, but you can start to understand it and embrace it and embrace your gifts because everybody has them. We just need to understand them.

00;41;26;24 – 00;41;30;16
Rich Gallagher
David, I’m so honored that you invited this extrovert into your nest. Yeah.

00;41;30;16 – 00;41;54;00
David Hall
Hey, you know what? Yeah, you know, I’m not opposed, but most of my guests have been introverts. But you have such expertize that you really do understand from the introverted side, and that’s extremely useful. Like I said, I highly recommend your book. I also just learned that if you like this book on stress-free small talk, he also has 20 other books, so that’s right.

00;41;54;00 – 00;42;00;03
Rich Gallagher
My latest one actually comes out in early November of this year. It’s going to be a guided journal and anxiety disorders.

00;42;00;16 – 00;42;23;19
David Hall
Very good. Very good. Yeah. So if shyness is it or social anxiety is it, you can overcome these things. Maybe it is understanding your introversion or working with the therapist or working with somebody. But introversion you can definitely understand and learn to embrace rich working people find out more about your book and the work you do.

00;42;24;08 – 00;42;44;17
Rich Gallagher
If you want to learn more about this, visit me online at Small Talk Coach dot com. I have lots of free information there. I’ve got an extensive set of blogs going over a lot of the concepts that we talked about on this. I’d love to put a link to this podcast there as well. And also I also coach people who have individual situations that they want to troubleshoot on a short-term basis.

00;42;45;09 – 00;42;47;02
Rich Gallagher
And there’s also a link to a lot of the books that I’ve written.

00;42;48;08 – 00;42;53;05
David Hall
Awesome. Thanks again, Rich. This has been a wonderful conversation. I know people are going to benefit from it.

00;42;53;20 – 00;42;54;24
Rich Gallagher
Thank you, David. Pleasure.

00;42;55;25 – 00;43;16;09
David Hall
Thank you so much for joining me. I look forward to further connecting with you. Reach out to David at Quiet and Strong or check out the quietandstrong.com website, which includes blog posts, links to social media and other items. Send me topics or guests you would like to see on the show if you’re interested in getting to know yourself better.

00;43;16;09 – 00;43;30;27
David Hall
There’s now a free type finder personality assessment on the quiet and strong website. This free assessment will give you a brief report, including the four-letter Myers-Briggs code. A lot of link to the show notes this. This free assessment will give you a brief report, including the four-letter Myers-Briggs code. All add a link to the show notes. There’s so many great things about being an introvert, so we need those to be understood. Get to know your introverted strengths and needs and be strong.

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