It’s All About Me..Until It Isn’t

As Dale Carnegie always said, if you want to break the ice, ask someone to tell you about themselves. They’ll be off and running, and they’ll think you are a great conversationalist.

People spend 30 to 40 percent of their speaking time expressing their own opinions and feelings, according to Harvard researchers, as cited in the September 2012 issue of Scientific American Mind. Talking about yourself triggers happy chemicals in your own brain. Yup: it feels good!

This dynamic cuts both ways when navigating on-the-record interviews. First, a smart interviewer will encourage you to ramble on. You’ll be flattered. It’ll feel good! And then you’ll wander off point and suddenly, it won’t feel so good any more. You’ll have to pull yourself back on point — and correct any off-message comments.

But, if you are just getting to know a journalist or interviewer, ask him or her to tell you about how they became interested in the topic at hand. That will get positive brain chemistry flowing, and will help get the interview off on the right foot.