It’s fair to say this world we live in loves to talk, but not always to one another. People stare at their screens, whether they’re alone or with another person, and it can be upsetting to think this is what it’s come to, and what the future holds for conversation.
We talk to others every day, but have you ever stopped to think about your conversational style and how to make improvements? Here’s 5 great tips for mastering the art of conversation in a world where people are forgetting what it feels like to have a good chat.
1. Are you really listening or just waiting to speak?
This is one of the most common problems you can see in conversations today. You know the situation we’re talking about – one person cuts in constantly to tell their own stories and doesn’t seem to be listening to what the other person is saying. You might even be guilty of this yourself, so make a conscious effort to try and really listen and wait for your turn to speak.
2. Show interest and be curious
Even if the person isn’t all that interesting, they might take a little bit of time to warm up and find their feet in the conversation. You can help get things moving by showing interest in their life or what they’ve been up to because let’s face it: people enjoy talking about themselves. Display attentiveness by keeping good eye contact and listening actively – and make sure to ask open-ended questions.
3. Give and take
It can be exhausting to be in a conversation with someone who is just taking and not giving, so if this is happening, use subtle cues to steer the conversation back to a fairer give and take situation. Be careful you aren’t just rambling on, or if you are, at least acknowledging it and seeing if the person wants to keep listening. Cut your losses if the other person is the rambler and you’ve tried several times to interject but haven’t been able to!
4. Be interesting and be yourself
You don’t have to be the funniest or the brightest person in the room, but when you talk, you have to engage the other person. Keep up to date with the news and the outside world, and don’t forget to use some funny anecdotes to keep the other person interested! Everyone know what it feels like to be stuck with someone at a social event who goes on and about their family problems, life issues or the job they hate… so don’t make others feel tat way.
5. If in doubt, the stair to intimacy has four steps:
- Courtesies (“Hello, how are you?”)
- Trade information (“So what brought you here?”)
- Trade opinion (“Isn’t this music unusual?”)
- Trade feeling (“Yup, I hate it.”)
6. Think before you speak
This is an obvious one yet so many people forget. Have you ever put your foot in your mouth? It can be so easy to do it! We often open our mouth without really knowing what we’re going to say. Sometimes we improvise and it may turn out OK, but other times it can be a regretful disaster. Simply pause before speaking and you should be fine!
7. How to make small talk
Whatever the context, old friends or new, it is best if speakers respect five principles:
- Put others at ease
- Put yourself at ease
- Weave in all parties
- Establish shared interests
- Actively pursue your own
Two powerful pieces of advice
- Hear what people are really saying as opposed to what they are telling you.
- Directness is a privilege of intimacy.
Tell us, do you feel you’ve mastered the art of conversation? Do you miss the way people used to talk to one another?