Never have an awkward discussion again: How to master the art of conversation 14



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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:

  1. Courtesies (“Hello, how are you?”)
  2. Trade information (“So what brought you here?”)
  3. Trade opinion (“Isn’t this music unusual?”)
  4. 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:

  1. Put others at ease
  2. Put yourself at ease
  3. Weave in all parties
  4. Establish shared interests
  5. Actively pursue your own

And finally,

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?


Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. it’s hard to talk to people as you don’t know what they do and you initially have nothing in common. Not everyone is gifted in the art.

  2. Spontanious conversation is the way to go. Once you start over-thinking what you’re going to say or not say, you aren’t really having a good, genuine conversation.

  3. When I was a business English teacher I taught how to have a conversation, in particular “encouragers” such as “really?, mmmmm, ah ha, “, etc., something that good conversationalists do naturally.

  4. Good grief! I am 67….never really had a problem with the fine art of conversation. Had to learn how to listen though. Now I find it easier to listen and draw the other person out, than talk.

  5. What should also be included is how to combat conversation terrorists. Those who hold the floor and don’t let anyone else speak at all! They think they are the only ones with anything interesting to say.

  6. Sometimes I prattle on because I’m nervous, then talk too fast! At least I am friendly and try and take turns, but tend to prattle on if there’s a lull in the conversation (especially with relative strangers). Oh to be perfect!

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