If you need two words to use when a conversation is at a standstill–or should be–repeat after me: “That’s interesting”. In fact, if you’re already verbally exhausted, use the shorthand version: “Interesting.” Let me explain.
The Perfect Tool
In my ongoing series of words worth repeating, “That’s interesting” stands out as a Swiss Army knife of phrases to have in your pocket. It’s easily deployed in a myriad of situations:
- When someone is explaining something or rambling, and you need more clarity, this phrase nudges the speaker along.
- When a friend needs to speak, this phrase shows you’re listening, and that they’re the center of attention. It helps you avoid autobiographical listening (the need to tell your own story), remaining empathetic to their situation.
- When a foe needs to be silenced, this phrase can bring their rant to a screeching halt. They come at you with, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” You retort, “That’s interesting.” End of conversation. And if they come at you again, you say with firm resignation, “Interesting.” You’ve just signaled that you’re done with this useless spinning.
Of course, your tone and body language entirely affect how you use it. You’re either encouraging the conversation or you’re calling it to a close.
Additionally, “That’s interesting” can be the prefix for longer variations on the theme. I picked this up from communications trainer Dan O’Connor, who outlines four elaborations. He claims we can use these in virtually every communication encounter, even if only to gather our thoughts.
- “That’s interesting, tell me more.”
- “That’s interesting. Why would you say that?”
- “That’s interesting. Why would you do that?”
- “That’s interesting. Why would you ask that?”
In each case, the elaboration either opens up the conversation, narrows it, or puts an antagonist in their place. For an energetic display on these, check out this YouTube video.
There you have it! Repeat after me.