How to Be a Good Conversationalist


good-conversationist-between-womenMiss Meredith Sweetpea has noticed a dearth of good conversation lately. It seems people are mostly interested in themselves or have no idea what to talk about–which doesn’t make the best conversation or the best conversational partner. It is becoming increasingly difficult to enjoy social situations when people just don’t know how to have a good conversation any more.

In social groups, put away the cell phones and actually take the time to speak with–and take interest in–others in the room.

Want to be a better conversationalist?
Use these conversation tips:

DO pack away the cell phone. Unless you’re expecting a major call, turn off your cell phone so you won’t be distracted by its ringing, beeping or vibrations. This will enable you to concentrate on your conversation. If you are expecting a call, inform the other person before you begin your conversation and warn them that you might have to step away if the call comes in. Do not take other calls.

DO share the conversation equally. You don’t want to hog the conversation talking all about yourself. Nothing is more boring to the other person than your monologue. Instead, ask sincere questions.

DO look for ways to show interest in the other person. Listen for conversation points the other person is making that allow room for additional questions. If the women you’re speaking with starts talking about a play she saw recently, ask questions about that topic like “Where did you see it?” “Would you recommend it?” “What did you like most about it?”

DON’T steal the story. Unfortunately, one person’s topic often sets off a trigger to the listener, who switches the topic to their own experience. Taking the theater example, the first woman might say that she just saw an interesting play. The wrong thing to do is say, “Well, I just saw an interesting play too…” and go on talking about your own experience. After you explore the other person’s subject, you may be able to add your own experiences at the end. Never try to “one-up” the other person’s story. This makes them feel trampled upon.

Related: Someone Stole My Story!

DO try to find a common interest topic. Talk about something you learned at the event, compliment someone’s apparel or accessories, or ask if the other person has had an interesting vacation this year. Don’t start with the boring questions of, “So what do YOU do?” or “Do you have kids?”

DON’T use social time to unload all your troubles, your family’s troubles, your work troubles, or any troubles. Avoid the “taboo” topics of politics, religion and money. Keep the conversation light and interesting. First of all, people you don’t know well don’t care about your troubles, and second, it is a real downer to focus on negative things. You’ll find your conversation partner looking around the room for an escape!

DO keep your focus on your partner. Make eye contact and smile. Angle your body to face the other person as you speak and listen. Don’t scan the room during the conversation looking for something better or fidget while the other person is talking.

Related: 10 Ways to Start and Maintain a Conversation

DO enjoy the conversation. Laugh. Show interest. Engage in verbal interplay. Let your personality shine.

The best conversations leave you thinking about them for days to come. The worst just want to make you run. Which kind of conversationalist do you want to be?

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