To be a charismatic conversationalist Cabane recommends in The Charisma Myth that one use the Bounce Back Technique. The idea of the technique is to keep the conversation on the other person because people will find you charismatic if you allow them to talk about themselves. Many people make the mistake of hijacking conversations.
For example, if someone volunteers, "I went to L.A. for the weekend."
Don't respond, "I went to L.A. about two weeks ago too. I went to visit my sister. There was so much smog there. And so much traffic. But we went to a really nice..."
It's better to respond with questions like, "Oh, how was it?" "Why did you go there?" "How
long were you there?"
Here's The Bounce Back Technique:
- Answer a query with a fact
- Add a personal note
- Redirect the query back to the questioner
Question: "So, where are you moving to?"
Response: "To the East Village.[Fact] I need a lot of noise outside of my window to concentrate. [Personal note] Do you need silence to write? [Redirect]
And Botton relates in How Proust Can Change Your Life that Proust suggests that to be a good friend, one must keep the conversation on the other person.
Proust was of the understanding that one shouldn't assume that others are interested in his interests but that one should ask questions to avoid boring the listener.
To be tactful, Proust recommends that one look to please others in his conversations by having them elaborate on their interests. And that one should abdicate his interests.
Proust even opined that, ironically, the best friends are those that scorn friendships. Botton interprets Proust's position by writing that people who scorn friendships:
- have more realistic expectations of "friendships"
- avoid talking at length about themselves because they would rather avoid placing their life's in the fleeting and superficial medium of conversations
- feel that "friendships" are a means to learn about others - not lecture
- appreciate other's susceptibilities; thus, they feel that there is a need to show false amiability
Therefore, to be charming, tactful and a good "friend", one should use the Bound Back Technique in conversations.