As social beings, we are all expected to be pretty decent when it comes to the art of small talk, except, however, engaging in good and quality conversation is exactly that – a skill that needs to be picked up.
While some people are complete naturals being able to chat up with anyone at any time and make people feel comfortable with their first “Hello!” that is always accompanied with a contagious smile, others don’t find anything easy or pleasant about it at all – and the sheer thought of having a conversation, especially with a stranger, will make them want to bolt for the door.
But, being a good conversationalist is something everybody can be better at, no matter how socially awkward you may think you are.
There are practical approaches that anyone can follow that will not only improve conversation, but also improve your relationships as a result, as well as boost your confidence.
Some advice may even seem fairly obvious to you, yet they’re still things we can learn to pay more attention to when speaking to another person.
Firstly, and most importantly, is to listen.
- Does this surprise you? It shouldn’t! Listening is key to engaging in a great conversation. Many of us can’t wait to talk about ourselves and our own situations when interacting with someone once we think of a clever response to what the other person is saying, hence, causing poor participation. Use your beautiful hearing capabilities and listen to everything other people tell you. You never know what you can learn, and listening carefully will also create a sense of trust for your conversing partner.
Want to have a conversation worth remembering? Then ask, ask, ask!
- How do you feel when people ask you questions about your life or career? Great? Awesome? Important? Well, here’s a little secret…everybody does! By asking the person you’re speaking to lots of questions, it creates opportunities for the both of you to open up and immediately feel comfortable with each other, allowing the conversation to flow more naturally.
On that note, it is also important to listen out for common interests.
- Nothing bonds people more than the revelation that they have shared characteristics, experiences, and hobbies in common. Because it feels great when you know that you’re not the only one in the world who thinks or experiences the same things we all do! If your conversation partner says, “I’m really scared of heights,” and you as well say, “Me too! What about heights scares you so much.” This is a foolproof way of building fast rapport, based on common interest. In less casual situations, it’s a way of making people feel relaxed.
Lastly, embrace the awkward silences.
- If you follow the advice above, awkward silences actually shouldn’t happen, but sometimes they are unavoidable. When they do occur, it’s a sign that both parties should part ways with a smile, and perhaps exchange contact details considering that you had a great conversation and, hopefully, the other person did as well. A neat trick you can do is simply admit the obvious awkward silences in a joking manner when you both are struggling to keep the conversation going; it will break the tension and may even stir a little laugh. Example: “Sooo, I guess the cat has gotten both of our tongues that we have no clue what to talk about anymore. What would be something interesting that we could talk about now?”
Now go on, find someone to talk to using these helpful conversational techniques. They could change your life.