Featured Image: Cup of Jo
Article By: Melina Brum
Forced conversation is probably one of the most uncomfortable social scenarios anyone can be put in, and it happens more often than not. You know that awkward feeling… The one that makes you race through the nooks and crannies of your brain, desperately searching for useful content to spew? It usually results in getting side-tracked by the thought of how uncomfortable the current situation is, preventing any further valuable conversation from happening. This ritual most likely repeats itself whenever you encounter most new people—or perhaps those familiar people you just cannot seem to click with.
You probably look at those people who converse so elegantly and wonder how the hell they do it. It might come naturally to a lot of people—intelligence, wit, charm, confidence, etc. For most of us, we get stuck in our heads when all we have to do is let our mind and body coincide with the situation naturally. We were made to act on a response, so why do we trap ourselves inside our thoughts and overthink? With an everchanging and evolving society, the more we witness, the more we compare ourselves, which leads to insecurity. There’s no correct answer here, lack of conversation skills can really mean anything, but what’s important is to focus on strengthening these skills.
If you’re seeking success or maybe some new friends, you’re going to need to master the art of constructing a conversation—here are 10 ways to help anyone become a better conversationalist (in no specific order):
1. Be Genuine
A conversation is not a one-way street, try to find a genuine interest in the other person. Don’t try to fake your interest, you won’t fool anyone. Approach the conversation with undivided attention and try to get out of your own head—that’s the key.
Fitting hand-in-hand with being genuine, you need to listen to what the other person is saying. Most of us are focusing on what we’re going to say next and how we’re going to say it. Maybe you’re thinking about how uncomfortable you are and the faces you might be making… Well, don’t. Stop being so introspective!
3. Have Questions Prepared
Do your homework and study it. If you have a few go-to questions up your sleeve, you can always pull them out in moments of need. Sometimes you have to break the awkward silence and if you’re not prepared you’ll probably isolate yourself in your head some more. If you don’t want to prepare questions, then at least choose some topics ahead of time.
4. Don’t Talk Too Much
Nothing is worse than having a conversation that feels one-sided. I’m sure most of us have had to listen to someone go on and on about themselves, fueling a purposeless conversation. You’re allowed to vent, but let the other person have a say. Don’t gloat and please don’t bore people. Sometimes we get caught up in a train of thought, but just stay aware of what’s coming out of your mouth. Also, pick up on body language cues… You can tell when someone just isn’t into it.
5. Don’t Intend to Offend
Try to be sensitive to people’s opinions but don’t refrain from voicing your own. You’re allowed to disagree, just do it accordingly. To advocate your stance, try telling them your views and follow up with asking them what their view are. If you don’t understand someone, try to paraphrase it back to them and ask if what you’re picking up is correct.
6. Don’t Underestimate Yourself
A lot of people hold back their thoughts, opinions, ideas, and questions in fear of them being perceived as unintelligent or unimportant. This derives from a lack of confidence. Remember that you have a lot to contribute and many people feel a similar way. You have to constantly remind yourself that you are knowledgeable and most definitely capable of revolutionary thoughts.
Read Next: 5 Ways to Feel More Confident in 2019
7. Ask Questions
If you’re actually listening to someone speak, it’ll be easier to formulate questions. Form a genuine curiosity—you can learn great things from other people. Conversations can be very beneficial if you’re sincerely engaging in them. Besides, by asking questions you are allowing the other person to elaborate, which allows you to become more comfortable. Probe as deep as you can, that’s usually what gets a good conversation going from topic to topic.
8. Be Positive
This can mean a few things. Focus on positive topics, it will steer the conversation in an uplifting direction, which will leave everyone in the conversation feeling good. Do not criticize or judge another person, be understanding—people can catch vibes. Try to lift the other person/people up (no, not physically). Recognize others’ positive attributes and give compliments where you see they’re appropriate. Agree to disagree and don’t take things personally based on someone else’s point of view. It’s vital to be respectful, even in debates or arguments.
9. Remain Honest And Truthful to Yourself
Sometimes when we’re under pressure or intimidated by someone, we find it easy to morph into something we think might impress others. This is normal behavior, but you shouldn’t entertain it. It’s important to portray honesty when conversing, it goes back to being genuine. Others can sense dishonesty and it’s not cool… I mean, who would want to speak to someone they can’t trust? Be who you are, don’t over-exaggerate or try to act like the other person. Being yourself is confident and the real way to attract other people.
10. Don’t Try to Fill Every Empty Space
One of the most common things people do is attempt to fill in every “awkward” silence with senseless words—don’t. If it’s silent, then let it be silent and embrace it without thinking it’s weird. You don’t need to rush to force sentences out when you don’t have anything you want to say. It’ll come naturally if you don’t overthink every second of it. Sometimes it’s beneficial to have a moment of silence, it gives your brain time to formulate things to say.