Starting and maintaining a conversation seems so natural for some people. It’s like they have some amazing gift that allows them to chat to anyone at any time for however long they want. But for others these skills don’t come so easily. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. It took me years to come out of my shell and still to this day I practice being a better conversationalist. Here are 5 tips that will put you well on your way to becoming a better convo-artist.
This may seem like a no brainer, but listening is a key part to conversation. Don’t just wait for your turn to talk, listen to what the other person is saying to you carefully and then respond appropriately. People can tell if you aren’t genuinely listening to them and more importantly they CAN tell if you are genuinely listening, and this will make you a better conversationalist and someone they will want to continue to have a conversation with. The more empathetic you are during a conversation the better.
Make a tree
This conversation technique requires a good memory and a bit of wit. Essentially remember what you have talked about in the conversation and then when the chat runs dry come back to something you have spoken about earlier.
Let’s use sports as this example. Say you asked someone if they are into sports and they responded by saying they love soccer, take that line of conversation as far as you can (which may or may not be very long depending on your knowledge of soccer) and then swing back to the start of that line of questioning. You might then ask “do you enjoy any other sports?” and then find out they like volley ball too, which you might be able to relate to because you played it at school. Bingo, the conversation goes on.
Conversation trees can get quite large the longer you are speaking to people, so remember what has been said and you will be able to come back to earlier points.
One of my favourite opening questions for people is asking what they are passionate about. If you are able to strike up a conversation about a passion, it will be a good chat. Listen carefully to what’s important to people and don’t be afraid to ask more questions about why they are passionate about the topic, if they have future plans for the topic, what their experiences have been about the topic etc.
The same goes for talking about your own passions. People can tell when you are excited about something and no matter what that topic is that passion will come across and they will be more interested in talking with you.
Travel is a great topic of conversation, people who have traveled usually have a good story or 2 about their trips and those that haven’t traveled usually have a place or 2 they would really like to visit. Either situation (traveled souls and not so traveled souls) leaves you wide open to many questions such as “where was your favourite place to visit” or “where would you most like to visit and why”. Share your own funny stories or enjoy hearing others speak of their adventures and you are in the money (conversation wise at least).
Becoming a great conversationalist won’t happen overnight. You need to work on it. Approaching strangers or friends of friends can be quite daunting, especially if you are a bit of an introvert, but the more you practice talking to people the more you will get a feel for different types of people and what they might like talking about.
There will be set backs too. Some people are TERRIBLE at conversation, giving one word answers, showing no interest in you, being boring themselves, playing on their phones and all kinds of things. This isn’t a reflection on you, not everyone is up for an in-depth chat at any given time so you will have to work on some get away plans too.
And there you have it 5 ways to work on being a good conversationalist and talking to people. Hopefully this article has given you something positive to take away and you can work on getting out of your social bubble a little bit.