Some are blessed with ‘the gift of gab’, others are not. I am one of the ‘others’. I can certainly talk a lot but I have to know the people I’m with. There’s a comfort in knowing your audience; it’s easy and familiar. I admire those who can approach a group of strangers and engage them in conversation, interesting conversation. (‘Interesting’…there’s the catch)
My husband is such a person. He can strike up a conversation with anyone. He asks a lot of questions to draw the person out. He uses humour to break the ice and make the person relax, and within minutes he has struck up an easy conversation that flows, naturally. At the end of the conversation he knows a fair bit about the individual, and they walk away uplifted because they’ve been made to feel like they are interesting. The gift of gab, it seems, really is a gift.
I’ve tried this technique, and failed. I ask questions that are invariably met with one word answers shutting down my attempt at getting that ‘flow’. I switch gears asking open ended questions that typically don’t allow for one word answers but then I find I’m not at all interested in what they have to say. Am I asking the wrong questions, or are others just not interesting enough to me?
Now I’ve met people who offer up conversation without asking; you know, the ones who tell you their life story right after you’ve asked their name. They spill forth with every detail of their life without taking a breath, leaving you little opportunity to escape. Or there’s the ones who go on and on with excruciating detail about their children, or grandchildren, or worse, their pet. And the minute you interject with information about your children or grandchildren, or pet, they get this annoyed look over their face like they took a wrong turn in a bad neighbourhood. (I guess the gift of gab isn’t always subjective?) Blathering on about the mundane minutiae of their boring existence seems to fuel their fire while it rapidly puts you to sleep.
I think part of having the ‘gift of gab’ is knowing what questions to ask, phrasing them in such a way that invites an enthusiastic response, and acting as though you’re really interested in their answer. The people who truly have the gift of gab, I believe, are naturally curious. They really are interested in finding out about others and, by contrast, like to share information about themselves. Maybe that’s where I miss the mark. I feel no such need to reveal anything about myself. In fact, I am rather private, so if the ‘gift of gab’ requires this two-way exchange, I’m not a candidate.
That said, I am grateful for those who do possess this wonderful skill because if it wasn’t for them gatherings would be pretty quiet. I will continue to hover in the shadow of those with the gift of gab, absorbing the information they extract from strangers, and comfortable knowing I can anonymously slip away when I get bored.