A research says that an average human speaks about 86,03,41,500 words in a lifetime. 86 Crore words? That’s a whole lot of talking! But what about our conversational skills? But are those words actually helping you making new and meaningful bonds with the people around? Conversational skills is a must have in today’s world. So let’s find out how to make every conversation a good one.
Small minds talk about people, moderate minds talk about events and great minds talk about ideas. – Eleanor Roosevelt
1. Say Something
Many believe that small talk comes naturally to everyone. That is a lie. Being a good conversationalist requires practice. Instead of waiting to be approached by someone, go up to them and try to strike up a conversation.
You could start off by making a general remark about the weather or the surrounding, or the reason why both of you are present there. For example. “Wow, The weather is getting really cold” or “Are you coming here for the first time too?”
2. Time for introduction
After you have initiated the conversation, introduce yourself. Let the other person do the same.
3. Ask away
“The truth is asking good questions is a skill in itself”
Keep the conversation flowing by asking them simple and open-ended questions about them like where they study/work, how long they have been living in the city etc.The kind of questions you ask will steer the direction of the conversation.
Avoid asking them a string of yes-no questions as it is an absolute conversation killer. Start your questions with who, what, when, where, why or how. For example, instead of asking “Do you like this city?” you could ask “How do you find this city?”
4. Stay on the positive
Stay on positive topics. Avoid discussing how you got late in the morning or about the other person’s past grievances. Talk about something light hearted such as future goals and aspirations. It’s okay to talk about negative topics when you feel that it is okay with the other person, or you are getting to know them better.
“Great conversationalists are great listeners.”
Now that you have asked questions, it is time to listen. Nothing will kill a conversation faster than an inattentive listener. Go with the mindset that you would be listening with the intention to listen, not to respond.
At some point, you may feel that the person is a bore. Control your impulse to look away, check your phone or waving at other people that you know. Good conversationalists know that there is an opportunity to learn something new from every conversation.
Be attentive and maintain eye contact. Ask them questions for clarification when you don’t understand something. This would show that you have a genuine interest in what the other person is saying.
6. Be up to date
You should know about the current issues and topics in the news, entertainment, sports, and politics in order to present your ideas, facts, and opinions on the issues when called for. Watch a few latest movies and TV shows, check the news, keep up with the latest sports stories and political developments.
7. Don’t debate, converse
A conversation should be an avenue where opinions are aired, not a battleground to pit one’s stance against another.
Different people have different perspectives. You will not always agree with the other person. In such situations, remember that you don’t always have to be right. Knowing the other person’s views would only help you know something new. Picking on their comments or arguing are not what good conversationalists do. Allow for things to be left open if a common point can’t be achieved.
Respect each other’s point of view. It’s fine to express your opinion, but don’t force it on them. Remember that they have the right to be themselves just as you have the right to be yourself.
8. Give sincere compliments
It’s always the compliments from people you love that mean so much. – Maria Bamford
Despite what people say or think, the way that we are perceived by others can have a profound effect on our self-esteem. Look for the good things in other people. If you notice a person with a new haircut or that he/she is very articulate, give them credit for it.
9. Maintain the ratio
“What differentiates us from animals is the fact that we can listen to other people’s dreams, fears, joys, sorrows, desires, and defeats—and they, in turn, can listen to ours.” – Henning Mankell
A conversation with 50-50 ratio is ideal, while 60-40 is good too.If you notice that you have talked for a few minutes without any questions, comments, or general signs of life from the other person, it’s time for you to take a break.
At the same time, don’t let the other person go on and on. If it happens, ask them questions such as:
What ultimately happened?
Given what you’ve said, what conclusion are you drawing?
10. Don’t make it The End
When it is time for the chat to end, don’t just state the reason and leave. Let the other person know that you have to leave. Show appreciation for the conversation by saying “It was lovely meeting you” or “I had a great time, today.”
Moreover, you can summarise some of the major points of your talk and set up the stage for future conversations. For example “Thanks for the book recommendation. I’ll let you know my views on it as soon as I finish it”
11. Be you
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde
Be yourself, be real. If you want to oppose the conventional view, then do so. You’re having a conversation not to impress anyone, but to have a good time.