Image courtesy of Kamnuan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
(I know telephones are like so archaic now, but it sounds appropriate considering how this all began.)
Years ago, upon being asked how many people there are in my life that I can just call up and talk to, completely out of nowhere, I came up with a pathetically tiny number. Subtracting family from that left me almost empty-handed. Over the past three months, I have somehow managed to double the number of people I can have impromptu phone conversations with.
Back in school, I had this friend who called me up every single evening. After spending eight hours together in school, it was astonishing that she still had things left to say that couldn't wait till the next afternoon we'd meet each other in class. Half my evenings went trying to come up with excuses my mother could give her for me not taking the call. But every "She's eating now," "She's out," "She's asleep" invariably met twith "I'll call later!" And she did. And we talked. Apparently I was a good listener, though all I ever took away from our conversations was my unfailing ability to "Hmm!" and "Ohh!" at just the right moments. It took me a whole year to shake her off my trail.
But that was then. Now that I have doubled my phone conversation capacity in under three months, I naturally consider myself something of an expert on the topic. So if there's anyone out there who sucks at it as I used to, and there must be someone at least, here are five steps that would get you from where you are to where I am. An achievable goal; it doesn't help to aim too high.
1. Pick the busiest time to call. The best time to call them is when neither of you are free. That assures you'll never run out of things to say. Make sure, for instance, that you'd have at least three answers to the possible first question, "What's up?" "Nothing much" puts a stop to the conversation. "I'm very busy, but I'm calling you anyway," that's the message you want to send. It's best to sound all hyper-excited.
2. Make sure you have a problem or two. There are few greater pleasures in life than giving advice to helpless souls. Capitalize on that. Ask for help, suggestions, only a moment of their time. Stand in front of a mirror, hell - go so far as to record yourself, and practice sounding sincerely worried. Balancing the excitement and worry in your tone, that's an art in itself.
3. Concoct a secret. Then, share it. Once you've given them the satisfaction of being one of your accomplices, I'm telling you, they'll just keep coming back for more. The key to making this work is to not share the entire secret in one go. Give up titbits of juicy information in every conversation and make it even better by strewing clues along the way. Reading mysteries may help.
4. Keep a pastime at hand. Be it a book, the television or a game. You don't want to seem bored nor let the excitement in your voice fade. A good listener is genuinely interested. That, of course, is an impractical goal. Aim low. Recognizing and feeding your need for a distraction every once in a while will take you a long way towards successfully putting on the guise of a good listener.
5. Remember: no good conversation ends at the first "Goodbye!" Stock up on little nothings to add after the first indication of an end to the conversation. It always helps to begin these with, "Hey, by the way, did you know about / I almost forgot to tell you... never-mind." (Also, never-mind is basically your golden word.)
Once you've mastered these, you can go right ahead and share your phone number with any- and everyone you meet. Don't hesitate to make the first call. Change your "Seeya" into a "Talk to you later." Who doesn't want to be liked, aren't we all just desperate for validation? Well, I have it from trusted sources that calling each other up is a sure-shot way to utter likeability. Worth a try, huh?