Conversations are an essential component of every day life. The ability to make a lasting and meaningful impression on others during conversations can make or break your relationships with friends, colleagues, and others. To help you have better conversations, the experts at Speak have compiled a guide of the most effective ways to have a great conversation.
1. Lead with a question
The best way to start a conversation is by asking a question. This shows the other participant in the conversation that you are interested in what they have to say, and confident enough to ask. It is important to ensure that the question that you lead with is broad so that the other person can engage with it comfortably. It is also important to ask neutral questions that will not put others in an uncomfortable situation.
Questions to avoid include:
- What did you think of the presidential address last week?
- Did you ever get that promotion?
- Are you and your significant other still together?
2. Start with small talk
Trust is earned, not given. For this reason, it’s better to start a conversation off with light small talk than it is to immediately delve into specifics. For this tip, remember the 3 tiers of conversation.
- The first tier is comprised of safe territory. This includes the weather, popular culture, and any shared experiences.
- The second tier is comprised of potentially controversial topics. These include religion, dating, and politics.
- The third tier is comprised of the most intimate topics. These can include family, finances, and health.
Always ensure that you begin with tier one conversations, and gauge the situation and relationship before moving on to more personal topics.
3. Look for obvious talking points before you approach a conversation
If you are introducing yourself to someone, consider obvious talking points that you could bring up before you approach. For example, is this person wearing merchandise from a specific band or sports team that you could ask them about?
4.It’s about more than just words
Did you know that 93% of communication is non-verbal? This type of communication includes body language cues such as posture, hand gestures, eye contact and facial reactions. It also includes tone of voice, and pace of speech. All of these non-verbal cues communicate a lot about you to others. For example, typically those who speak slower are viewed as more confident.
5. Don’t hog the mic
Remember to keep the other participant engaged by consistently asking for their opinion and input on the topic of conversation. If you feel like you may be talking too much, ask your conversation partner how they feel about what you’ve just said.
6. Focus on listening, and remember key points
One of the biggest mistakes that people make during conversations with others is focusing too much on their response before the other person has a chance to finish their thought. Ensure that you are listening to your partner, and considering their full thought before you respond. Make sure to remember key points during the conversation that you can refer back to later to show others that you care about what they have to say.
7. Don’t be scared of silence
Silences are only awkward if you make them. Silence is actually a normal part of every conversation, and should be regarded in this way. Do not grasp for abstract topics to attempt to fill every silent moment, because they are a natural part of every exchange.
8. Try to relate
Relating to other people is the best way to form lasting relationships. As humans, we are naturally drawn to people who are similar to us. If you relate to something that your partner has said, make sure to tell them that you have had a similar experience or feel a similar way about a certain topic.
9. Be aware of social dynamics
Conversations will flow differently with various types of people. How you converse with someone depends on your relationship to them. For example, you will likely converse in different ways with your best friend than with your boss. Ensure that you are aware of the social dynamics that you are participating in, and adjust your behavior accordingly.
10. Fake it until you make it
The key to better communication is essentially to fake it ’till you make it. Even if you don’t feel 100% confident in a situation, always pretend that you are the most confident person in the room.
The best way to master the art conversation is by practicing often. We hope this guide has helped you think of new ways to initiate, and keep the conversation flowing.
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