Ever heard someone confess to being “at a loss for words”? Here’s a tip that will ensure you never are.

There is one word that can be said in response to any declarative statement anyone ever makes to you, ever, whether it’s in an interview or a conversation with a friend, family member or total stranger. To be sure, it’s a conversational comma, not a period or exclamation point, likely buying you only a slight pause in the proceedings. But oftentimes that’s all you need to avoid being at that uncomfortable loss for words.

Ready? Here’s the word.


Let’s test the theory. I’m going to grab three non-fiction books off my shelf, write down the first declarative sentence I see, and then reply “Interesting.”

Example 1:

“A leader must face failure, squarely, including the failures of people he likes.”


Example 2:

“We did focus, and we beat the Bears convincingly, 31-15.”


Example 3:

“Meanwhile, James Cagney investigated more money and greater creative control, attempting to never again do a throwaway like Frisco Kid.


The beauty of the word, of course, is that it means nothing and everything, a vocabulary place-holder. It’s best employed when something someone says catches you off guard or takes you aback, when you don’t want to say the first thing that pops in your head because that could start the conversation or interview down a path you don’t want to go. So you basically hit the time-delay button — like TV networks do when broadcasting live events so Mr. And Mrs. Middle America don’t get celebratory or frustrated f-bombs dropped on them. In some cases, because people (even many journalists) like to talk more than listen and respond, that may be the last thing you have to say on the subject because your conversation partner will verbally trundle off elsewhere. But even if their response is, “What does that mean?” — you have given yourself a little more time to answer that question in a more thoughtful way.

Interesting, huh?





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