Veteran journalist Katie Couric has interviewed some of the most influential figures of our times, including several U.S. presidents, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling, Tom Hanks, Beyoncé and Meryl Streep. So, it’s safe to say that she knows a thing or two about being a great conversationalist. If you ever struggle to make conversation with a stranger or become intimidated when speaking to someone you admire, Couric shared some tips with InStyle on how to get the words flowing.
First, Couric emphasized that being a good listener is key, which includes no “phubbing,” aka snubbing someone by becoming distracted by your phone during a conversation. Email, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and texting can wait! Try to stay as in the moment as much as possible when talking to someone in person.
If you’re ever at a loss as to what to talk about it, Couric said there is one topic that is pretty universal: People love talking about themselves! Ask plenty of questions to get to know someone. It doesn’t have to be just surface topics like where they’re from or what they do for a living. You might ask how they feel about a particular issue or their thoughts on a current event.
When it comes to disagreements, Couric said it’s important to hear the other person out and try to resist the urge to immediately tell them why they’re wrong.
“When I interviewed a white supremacist at [the Unite the Right] rally in Charlottesville, I wrestled with everything these individuals said, but I also think it was important to hear because you need to understand people to figure out how to contend with hate and intolerance,” she told InStyle. “That’s why even views I find repugnant are important to hear — so we know that they’re out there. You can’t put your head in the sand.”
For more of Couric’s tips and tricks on the art of conversation, definitely read her full InStyle interview!