How to be a good conversationalist

How do you learn to be a good conversationalist? There is no school to go to, although there is a lot of research that can help. I have been looking at this topic recently and have gathered a few tips which I would like to share with you.

  • Make a good first impression – make the effort to be warm and open when approaching a conversation. Positive self-expression and self-presentation help you come across as approachable, friendly and interesting to talk to. Smile, it increases your face value!
  • Don’t try to impress – There is no need to be who or what you are not. Yes, we all want to get respect and come across as knowledgeable and smart, but name-dropping (of people, places and products) will not earn you brownie points as you could come across as fake, desperate and not authentic. Be yourself in a polite and honest way without shrinking your first impression.
  • Encourage people to talk about themselves – People often find it difficult to start a conversation because they don’t know what to talk about. Encourage the person(s) to talk about themselves. Most people love talking about themselves. One researcher states that getting people to talk about themselves triggers the same sensation of pleasure in the brain as food or money. However, a word of caution ‘do not judge’, that is the quickest conversation killer and we are warned against judging people by Jesus.
  • Listen! – I mean really listen! Most people do not really focus or concentrate on what the other person is saying. They may nod intelligently at the right time but they are not really taking in what is being said. Actively listen! Also, although you may be eager to also get your related point in, don’t interrupt! It’s rude and you may stifle the conversation as the other person may think that you think their point is not worthy of being made.
  • Emphasise similarity – not differences. That will make you more endearing
  • Ask questions – Not only does it show you are listening, it also shows that you are interested in what the person is saying.
  • Show emotion – be positive and enthusiastic! Show passion and character. It makes you more interesting and more human. However, do not be overbearing or crass.
  • Ending a conversation – If you have exhausted the conversation. Don’t let the awkward silence have the last word! Use phases like ‘finally’, ‘lastly’, ‘mustn’t keep you further’, ‘time’s far spent’, ‘It’s been great seeing (meeting) you (again)’ etc. to signal the end of the conversation. And then bow out gracefully.

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