Do A Prince Philip: Make Conversation More Interesting By Not Talking About Yourself

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Sure, Prince Philip’s main claim to fame is an unparalleled ability to say the wrong thing at the wrong time, but sixty years of meeting people presumably gives you a lot of practice at small talk. His strategy for making conversation? Never talk about yourself.

In an interview with the BBC celebrating Prince Philip’s 90th birthday, Prince Edward describes his father’s approach:

My father plain and simply is very modest about himself and doesn’t believe in talking about himself. One of his best pieces of advice he gives to everybody is talk about everything else, don’t talk about yourself – nobody’s interested in you.

Even if you’re not a royal, that’s sound advice — focusing on the other party in a conversation makes them feel more valued. For more ways to improve your conversation skills, check out our top 10 conversation hacks.

Prince Philip at 90 on a lifetime of speaking his mind [BBC News]


  • But if everyone in the world took this advice you’d be in a catch 22 situation..
    You’d ask them about themselves and they’d respond by asking about you!

    • Exactly!
      Not to mention, with Prince Phillip, everyone already knows all about him because he is a high profile figure, so there is no guesswork for the other person.
      This would not work with ordinary people, because if they can’t find out about you, they will lose interest. Rather, the better conversational tactic would be to listen and respond – this is more engaging for both participants.

  • I’m not sure if there’s been an article on this in the past, but Bill Clinton is also a good man to take meet-and-greet tips from. The short of it is a good firm handshake, lots of friendly eye contact (but not too long!) and taking a genuine interest in what someone has to say. And like always, if you can’t be sincere, learn to fake it, but fake it well!

    Using those tips scored me a deal to build a pretty big website, so it works!

  • I listened to a podcast from the British RSA* recently which featured both the Prince (its president) and Richard Attenborough speaking. After years of reportage of nothing but the Prince’s public gaffes I was amazed to find he was an engagingly confident public speaker who recalled details from 50-60 years ago effortlessly.

    * awesome podcasts…

  • hahaha that’s his Danish cultural sense of humour showing through; he is “Phillip the Greek” but most people don’t know the Greek Royal Family is Danish and was “given” to the Greeks in the late 1800s.

    if you think he’s bad, take a look around for other quotes from Danish royalty…we’ve had some absolutely hilarious crackpots (including our current Queen).

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