Simple Tips for Making Conversation

Simple Tips for Making Conversation

Some people’s greatest fear is the casual conversation. There is no task more daunting than introducing yourself to a new acquaintance, and then attempting to fumble through the earliest portions of a conversation. If you mess up the introduction, the person you are talking to may have a bad first impression of you, so it is imperative to win a person over with your excellent conversational skills. The strategies to achieve this may seem out of reach, but in reality there are several simple ways to master the art of conversation, and easily discuss any topic with anyone you meet.

First and foremost, the posture you assume with your body is extremely important. You may think your words supply the first impression, but in reality your body language communicates so much more about you, without you even realizing it. Certain body positions can communicate a lack of connection. Crossing your arms across your chest, putting your hands in your pockets, or not looking the person in the eyes can make you come across as disinterested. When you meet someone, make sure to keep your torso as open as possible, and to do your best to maintain soft eye contact. Furthermore, always make an effort to shake the person’s hand, as establishing an early physical connection can make it easier to establish a connection through dialogue.

After you have established your open, receptive demeanor, your next step is to open the conversation competently. The beginning of any conversation needs to be easygoing and open ended. It needs to allow for an ease into larger conversation. It should not be too pointed or too precise, but should give the other person plenty to talk about. All of these guidelines may sound especially complicated, but truly the best way to start a conversation is simply to ask the person, “How are you doing?” This quick and simple opening not only leads into further conversation, but also makes the other person feel as though you care about them and what they have to say, warming them up to the idea of conversing with you.

Once the person responds to your opening line, the next step is to start establishing your identity within the context of the conversation. You can make it much easier for other people to talk to you if you provide them with points of connectivity. These points can be where you live, where you went to school, where you went to work, or any general personal information. Even if the person you are talking to does not share the exact same history as you, sharing portions of each other’s life establishes personal connections and makes either person more comfortable with continuing the conversation with other subjects.

Do not overshare, however. Once you start talking, it may be tempting to simply keep speaking about the topic that you know best: yourself. This is a conversational trap that most people fall into without even realizing it. The temptation is to play it safe and talk about yourself, because asking questions may seem prodding or intrusive. While this can be the case on occasion, it can be just as awkward or uncomfortable to tell a person you have just met every detail about your life. If a person asks, it is fine to share your honest answer, but do not smother the person in endless details of your personal life.

When you talk with someone else, the simplest way to engage with them is to ask questions. Questions can stand in for an otherwise lack of conversational topics, and they can demonstrate to the person you are speaking to that you have an open interest and care in what they are saying. Some questions can be intrusive and inappropriate, especially for a first-time interaction, so use discretion before you ask; but in general, questions can reveal more points of connectivity, and such revelations can make it much easier to hold lengthy conversations with people.

When you ask your questions though, make sure you actually hear and remember the person’s responses. An egregious, common social faux pas is asking a person a question, and then immediately forgetting their answer. Even if you do not ask a question, do your best to truly pay attention to everything a person tells you in conversation with you. If you can, repeat back what the person has said to you in the conversation, to underscore how much attention you are paying the person. This will demonstrate to the person that you are invested in what they are saying, and they will be more likely to want to share more openly with you.

As you engage in deeper conversation with the person, do your best to avoid common pratfalls of a selfish conversationalist. The first of these pratfalls is making preemptive judgements of a person’s character based solely on your first impression. People tend to make their judgements of others much too early when they first meet, and this can sour future conversations and interactions. If your goal is to make it through the conversation successfully, you must avoid forming unwarranted judgements. A second pratfall is assuming everyone will agree with your perspective. As you talk to more and more people, it will become evident that everyone has varying opinions and ideas. Do not become surprised or offended if someone mentions disagreeing with you; the mark of a mature conversationalist is one who can keep the discussion alive, despite apparent disagreements.

Simple Tips for Making Conversation Ultimately, one of the easiest conversation skills to take advantage of is the ability to just listen. Anyone can talk, but not everyone can actually sit down and absorb what other people have to say. Sometimes you may have to do the brunt of the work in a conversation, but if you have communicated an aura of friendliness and reception, then more often than not you will find all you need to have is open ears. Place yourself in positions of conversation as often as you can, and eventually you will find that it is just as easy to speak as it is to listen.

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