What Most People ACTUALLY Think Of Your Conversation Skills

When I tell people about the restricting experience that I had for a lot of my life 
which you can read about by clicking HERE
they often say exactly the same thing:

You! Shy?? No way! I just can’t see it.” 


One extreme feeling because of another

Even though their surprise is more statement of fact than compliment, I always get a little happy bristle.

For so many years, I felt like I was behind a glass wall when I went out to places.
My friends would all chat away to new people, but I stayed mute.

These were friends who knew that, when it was just us, no one could shut me up.

So as well as feeling deep frustration, I got to feel some shame and humiliation.



Why I was so quiet, when I didn’t want to be

The reason I never spoke to them wasn’t 80’s-inspired Stranger Danger.

It was usually because, faced with the prospect of saying something, my mind went blank.

Panic seeped into my ears and down the back of my neck, and there was nothing in my mind but a weird, uncomfortable feeling of pressure.

Well, that’s not strictly true: the reason my mind usually went blank, is because on those occasions when something did pop into my head, it just seemed too rubbish to share.

I was TOTALLY convinced that anything I said had to be:

  • fascinating
  • insightful
  • or hilarious

Whatever occurred to me was, invariably, none of those things.


Even then, that was pretty silly thinking

The ensuing panic blocked out the logic of my situation:

 most of what was being said by everyone else was, also, none of those things.

And – everyone was ok with that.

Think about it:

You’re at a party. Someone walks up to you that you don’t know.

The first thing they say to you is really insightful. The next is totally fascinating.

Wow, you think.
That dude just said something very interesting that has made me really question my opinions.

But would I like to hang out more with him?, asks the friend-filter/networking opportunist part of your brain.

I’m not sure, says main-brain. He’s kind of intense.


What made me finally work this out

At 18, I got my first ever job behind the bar in the pub up the road.

If you ever want a crash course in having conversations with people, the busy local is the place to do it.
Something about being behind the bar makes people feel like they already know you.

This can be lovely. It can be tedious. But it is always very educational.

The thing I realised – the thing that completely changed the way I interact with new people – is this:


Most people you meet don’t expect you to be
in everything you say.

  They just want to shoot the shit.

Tweet that here!

I’d even go a step further and say that, were you to be solely FASCINATING and HILARIOUS, they would either – as imagined above – find you intense,
find you totally intimidating, and not someone they can relate to.


Over To You

Think about the last time you met a new person that you liked.

What was it that drew you to them?

Was it that they knocked you sideways with every fascinating comment?

Or was it (as I would suspect) that you found them to be like you, in some way
– you could relate to them in a style of conversation that suited you?


Let me know in the comments below (or by clicking here).



You rule,

xx (Yes Yes) Marsha


PS want to know my best-ever client secret – and get even more advice, tips, plus stories that I won’t put on the internet? Come and join the Yes Yes Family – it’s free! Just pop your details in below:

Photo Credits: Alfonsina Blyde », _chrisUK and Aurimas Adomavicius, all via Compfight cc.


  • Shana LaFore

    Reply Reply July 16, 2013

    This is great, Marsha. So insightful! I love how you take the pressure off by saying they’re not expecting us to be fascinating or hilarious all of the time. Love it!

    • Marsha (Yes Yes Marsha)

      Marsha Shandur

      Reply Reply July 16, 2013

      Thanks Shana!
      Yes, it’s certainly easier when you don’t feel the need to be a comedian or Yoda every time you open your mouth.

  • Sarah

    Reply Reply July 16, 2013

    Great article Marsha. Love your writing! So charming and down-to-earth. :-)

  • Aimelie Ronquillo

    Reply Reply July 17, 2013

    I really love you sharing this perspective. As an introvert, I always feel a sense of uneasiness when I’m around other people, so it’s a great reminder know that people really just want to shoot the shit!!

    • Marsha (Yes Yes Marsha)

      Marsha Shandur

      Reply Reply July 18, 2013

      Thanks Aimelie!
      I think a lot of us with introverted tendencies can slip into thinking we don’t have valid things to say, whilst not noticing that the chatters are often saying just normal, non-earth-shattering things, and everyone’s ok with that!

  • Lana Shlafer

    Reply Reply July 18, 2013

    I like this post and it made me realize that the main reason I like certain conversations is because I felt that both people were present and authentic. Whether it was funny, intense or light-hearted becomes irrelevant when it is a communion of hearts and minds.

    • Marsha (Yes Yes Marsha)

      Marsha Shandur

      Reply Reply July 18, 2013

      I agree! When you click with someone and can tell they’re coming from a genuine place, any chit-chat is fun.

  • Elyse Sparkes

    Reply Reply July 18, 2013

    I can TOTALLY relate to this post! In certain settings I’m very outgoing and will say anything that pops into my head and in others (usually when I don’t know the other people or if they are people I admire) I will be completely silent. I have that blank slate feeling…like there’s just nothing on my mind to say. It’s always reassuring to know that other people experience this too and to remember that I don’t have to say anything world-changing. Thanks for writing about this!

    • Marsha (Yes Yes Marsha)

      Marsha Shandur

      Reply Reply July 18, 2013

      Thanks Elyse! That’s exactly how I always used to feel (and still sometimes slip back into feeling).
      The next blog post is going to be about making the other person do all the work (by asking questions), which also helps!

  • Silvia Bianco

    Reply Reply July 18, 2013

    Loved this Marsha. I totally admire people who have that easy way of talking to most anyone. Usually I’m one of them but sometimes I’m not. I find that when I try to say something profound it does come off as too intense. It’s when I’m lighthearted that people most respond to me. I think that’s when they feel most comfortable. And that’s what I want them to feel. So here’s to being light of heart!

    • Marsha (Yes Yes Marsha)

      Marsha Shandur

      Reply Reply July 18, 2013

      Yes! I do think there’s a time for being intense sometimes – when the person you’re talking to is as well. But the trick is not to think you HAVE to be to have anyone enjoy speaking to you!

  • Desiree East

    Reply Reply July 18, 2013

    Oh man, I get SO nervous when I go to events where I hardly know anyone. That’s the worst. After the first 20 minutes or so (and maybe, if there is wine involved), I tend to loosen up. Then it’s on! LOL.

    • Marsha (Yes Yes Marsha)

      Marsha Shandur

      Reply Reply July 18, 2013

      Me too!
      But I find using the tips and tricks I talk about in this blog (and on the mailer) help me loosen up when there’s no wine readily available.
      Also, I take on the stances from Amy Cuddy’s amazing TED talk to let me brain do some of the work for me!

  • Melissa Burkheimer

    Reply Reply July 18, 2013

    Hey Marsha!

    Your Tweetable is spot on. The last person I met when I was super into networking did exactly that. Shot the shit. Didn’t try to sell me anything, just asked me what kind of a beer I wanted.

    Love this!


    • Marsha (Yes Yes Marsha)

      Marsha Shandur

      Reply Reply July 18, 2013

      Thanks for tweeting it, Melissa!
      Yep, for me, networking is all about building relationships where you can help each other out, but only with the kind of people you’d want to hang out with anyway.
      (also known as “Making Interesting Friends“)

  • Lane Lois

    Reply Reply October 30, 2014

    Hi Marsha,
    Your questions strategies for having conversations should be helpful with friends/persons. This one particular friend can leave me with a lack if I don’t find a way to interact. Before I can get to ask engaging questions to her, she is on the next and the next. So I plan to use the open ended questions-but I do not want to feel I have to sabotage the conversation.
    Is not having too too many questions inappropriate for engaging and meaningful friendships??
    Lane Lois

    • Marsha (Yes Yes Marsha)

      Marsha Shandur

      Reply Reply November 2, 2014

      Hi Lane!

      Not if you make sure you listen to the answers, and base the following questions on what the answers were.

      Thanks for commenting!

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