We’ve all met someone who has the knack of creating a good conversation. They’re able to talk with ease about anything in a relaxed and interested manner. We know the difference between them and the interrupter, the over-sharer, the one that goes on and on, the one-upper or the one who asks deeply personal questions when you have only known them two minutes!
Fundamentals of the art of conversation:
First, be clear about the point of the conversation. Is it social or business? We converse to share ideas and experiences; build connections; create understanding; learn more about others and learn more about ourselves.
If you are meeting someone or a group of people for the first time,do some research in advance. Depending on the type of event, find out about peoples’ backgrounds and interests, the company and what the people there do, the town you are visiting or flip through a newspaper or magazine to come up with conversational openers.
Be Interested. When you show interest others will enjoy talking with you and be more drawn to talk with you. Listen to what they say and ask questions, although don’t turn it into an interrogation. If you’re having difficulty getting the other person involved in the conversations maybe tell a funny story about something that happened to you.
Be Natural. Be relaxed. Smile. Be approachable. Share things that you’re comfortable talking about… if you feel nervous.
Be Respectful. Good conversations happen when each takes their turn to listen as well as speak. When it is your turn to listen give your full attention to whoever is speaking. If what they are saying isn’t clear ask questions and paraphrase back to them what you have understood. Really try to understand what they are saying even if you disagree, as their point of view is valid and valuable. Beware of, instead of listening, planning what to say next; wondering off down a side road; interrupting them either by finishing their sentences, cutting in with your own thoughts or with ‘That reminds me of… ‘
Then, when it’s your turn, express your point of view clearly and in a positive and non-threatening manner. Be happy and ready to clarify any points.
Be patient with yourself and learn from the times it doesn’t go as you hoped. Also, remember if sometimes the conversation doesn’t go well it might not be your fault. The other person might be having a bad day, not feeling well or distracted.