Conversational skills are essential to everybody. We rely on them to get a job, a romantic relationship or to deal with our family and friends. But despite the fact that we talk since early age, some of us, adults, aren’t very good at talking to other people.
The causes may vary, but the consequences of the lack of this essential social skill are there for everybody to see. But the good news is that we can become better at communication, if we are willing to work hard on our communicational skills. So here are 7 tips that will help you get started.
7 Ways to Improve Your Conversational Skills
Watch your body language
Everything starts with your body language. No matter what you say, if your posture gives away that you aren’t interested in the conversation, there is very little that you can do to save the day.
So pay attention to how you sit and to how you move, and keep eye contact as often as possible – but don’t stare if you want to master your conversational skills, as it can make some people very uncomfortable.
Try to have a conversation with yourself in front of the mirror, and ask a friend to tell you how your body language is while you are talking. It will give you an idea of how you are doing it so you can perfect it. Still, be ready for criticism and do not take any comments personally.
Agree and encourage as often as possible
Everybody loves to talk to people with similar ideas and who see things in a positive way. As a consequence, if you are always trying to impose your point of view, or only have negatives arguments coming out of your mind, you might not be as popular as you wish.
So try to agree and be understanding as often as possible, and do not insist on making people follow your lead all the time. It doesn’t mean that you are supposed to change your mind either, but that you become able to see other people’s opinion as something valuable.
And if they share any good news with you, make sure that you deliver honest congratulations and show some enthusiasm. If the facts aren’t that great, encourage them and try to empathize. This is called “creating rapport” and it is the best way to build a connection that will improve your conversational skills in the long term.
Nobody will open up to someone who won’t talk about themselves. Except if you are their psychologist or private detective, you know it sounds completely unfair.
Therefore, if you are a reserved person, you might need to start considering what you could exceptionally share in order to improve your conversational skills. Of course, you don’t need to tell anyone the story of your life or your deepest secrets. But, possibly, there are stories you can easily share without getting into topics that are too private.
Of course, it might be a bit tricky if you are dealing with business communication, but being cold hardly is the right approach here.
Listen more than speak
If you think you aren’t the best when it comes to conversations, here is where you can excel. Most of the people like (and need) to be listened, so offer your ears to them.
Show interest in their stories, keep that body language in check and allow them to talk about whatever they want. Ask open-end questions and make them feel comfortable by giving them time to think through what they want to say.
It will work wonders as you will see, and it bring us to the next tip:
Keep the conversation flowing
Nothing is worse than those awkward moments of silence, where nobody knows what to say. This is especially terrifying on first dates and work meetings.
The solution for it is to know how to keep the conversation flowing using a few strategies. And here they are:
- Ask questions about people’s passions and hobbies – people are usually happy to go on and on about things that they really enjoy, so you won’t have to make much effort to avoid silence if you take the conversation in this direction.
- Ask questions based on what they have just said – learn how never to run out of things to say by picking one point already mentioned and asking more about it from a different angle.
- Keep it simple – some people think they should ask highly intelligent questions to sound interesting. But the truth is that it can be very intimidating. As a consequence, you might get a very short answer back with no chance to keep the topic flowing.
- Do not interrogate or interview – except if you are conducting a job interview, or if you are a police officer, you should avoid sounding like you are interrogating the person. If you do it, you will see the conversation dying out very quickly.
- Always end your answers with a question – this way, the opposing party will have to say something.
- Make fun of it – if nothing works, don’t panic. Just look around you and try to find something else to comment. As a last resort, you can even point out that the silence has become awkward and have a laugh, depending on the situation.
Above all, you must trust in yourself and be confident. If you are terrified, it will show up on your body language and your voice. Your mind might even go blank due to anxiety.
Also, find your ways to stop caring about what people think of you. You know your potential and that you can achieve whatever you want even without their approval.
Rest assured that the other person might be as concerned as you are, so relax. And if you need it, try some breathing techniques to calm yourself down.
Fake it until you make it
Still, it is all about training. Our brain needs to experience new situations to realize that they aren’t dangerous to us. And this is also true for conversational skills.
So, if you are afraid to talk to people, you should do it as often as possible. As they say, fake it until you make it, which sounds harsh but works well quite frequently.
As soon as your mind understands that there is no real threat in a simple conversation, it will eventually stop injecting all that adrenaline into your body, and you will feel more settled.
To sum up
Improving your conversational skills is all about trial and fail. It is also about relaxing your mind and keeping your body language under control. Creating an emotional link between you and who you are talking to can also help to keep the conversation flowing and to make sure that you both have a great time.
So follow these tips and don’t feel embarrassed if you don’t make it for the first time. You will certainly get there sooner than you think.
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