How to Have a Great ConversationThere are some steps for having a great conversation
Being around confident people makes you feel good. For example, having a
confident boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, or a friend makes you
feel better. The other person's energy and enthusiasm is infectious, and
makes all the conversation participants feel confident and comfortable.
Projecting confidence is the key to a good conversation, so do not be shy.
2Find out about the person you'll be talking to before you actually talk to them, if you can
If it's someone who you work with, or go to school with, look at their
department website, or see if the person is on any social networks
before talking to them for the first time. (But remember! There is a
fine line between finding out general information about someone, and
coming across like a stalker.) The information you get though can be a
good starting point for conversations.
- "I was looking at the biochemistry department website and saw that
you're working on a pretty interesting thesis! How did you come to
choose that topic?"
- "I saw on the office memo that you're working on the outreach project for local schools. How's that going?"
- "Milly here told me that you went skydiving!"
3 Ask questions
: What do they like to do? What sort of things have they done in their
lives? What is happening to them now? What did they do today or last
weekend? Identify things about them that you might be interested in
hearing about, and politely
ask questions. Remember, there was a reason that you wanted to talk to
them, so obviously there was something about them that you found
interesting. However, try to space out your questions or they'll feel
like you're interrogating them which is very bad and closes off
- See How to come up with Good Conversation Topics for ideas.
- Ask clarifying questions. If the topic seems to be one they are
interested in, ask them to clarify what they think or feel about it. If
they are talking about an occupation or activity you do not understand,
take the opportunity to learn from them. Everyone loves having a chance
to teach another willing and interested person about their hobby or subject of expertise.
- Try to get them talking about something they enjoy thinking about
and something that you're interested in hearing or else the conversation
isn't fulfilling and one of you will feel unsatisfied with it.
Listen : This is the most important part of any conversation. Pay attention to
what is being said. Make acknowledging noises or movements to indicate
that you are still listening. A conversation will go nowhere if you are
too busy thinking of anything else, including what you plan to say next.
If you listen well, the other person's statements will suggest
questions for you to ask. Allow the other person to do most of the
talking. They will often not realize that it was they who did most of
the talking, and you get the credit for being a good conversationalist -
which of course, you are!
- Practice active listening skills. Part of listening is letting the other person know that you are listening.Make eye contact.
Nod. Say "Yes," "I see," "That's interesting," or something similar to
give them clues that you are paying attention and not thinking about
something else - such as what you are going to say next.
- Paraphrase back what you have heard, using your own words. This
seems like an easy skill to learn, but takes some practice to master.
Conversation happens in turns, each person taking a turn to listen
and a turn to speak or to respond. It shows respect for the other
person when you use your "speaking turn" to show you have been listening
and not just to say something new. They then have a chance to correct
your understanding, affirm it, or embellish on it.
5Consider your response before disagreeing
. If the
point was not important, ignore it rather than risk appearing
argumentative. On the other hand, agreeing with everything can kill a
conversation just as easily as disagreeing with everything. When
pointing out your difference of opinion, remember these points:
- Agree with something they said (state common ground) before disagreeing.
- Try to omit the word "but" from your conversation when disagreeing,
as this word often puts people on the defensive. Instead, try
substituting the word "and"--it has less of an antagonistic effect.
- Playing devil's advocate (pretending to defend the opposite point of
view) can be a good way to keep the conversation going, but if you
overuse this technique, you could end up appearing hostile.
- Don't manipulate the talk to serve your own agenda and steam-roll
your counterpart. If you come away from the conversation feeling full of
yourself, you used the occasion to show off your wit and knowledge. Try
to keep from using a conversation to boost your ego.
6Do not panic over lulls
This is a point where you could easily inject your thoughts into the
discussion. If the topic seems to have run out, use the pause to think
for a moment and identify another conversation topic
or question to ask them. Did something they said remind you of
something else you have heard, something that happened to you, or bring
up a question or topic in your mind? Mention it and you'll transition
smoothly into further conversation!
7Remember that sometimes if a conversation isn't going well, it might not be your fault
. Sometimes the other person is distracted/lost in thought, isn't willing to contribute, or is having a bad day.
If they don't speak or listen, then they are the ones not using good
conversation skills, not you. But in any case, it's still a good idea to
strive to do your part as a good conversationalist.
8Know when the conversation is over
. Even the best conversations will eventually run out of steam or be ended by an interruption. Smile
if you're leaving, tell them it was nice talking to them, and say
goodbye. Ending on a positive note will leave a good impression.