Conversation is an art form. In order to excel at having a good conversation, you need to be aware and have focus on your chatting partner. Follow these simple steps and you will be well on your way to having a good conversation.
- Limit distractions. It is difficult to have a real conversation in a bar or at a club when the music is loud and the room is crowded. Conversations are best had in quiet areas where you can be alone with the people you are speaking with.
- Allow enough time. Good conversation cannot be rushed into a “Hey, how ya doing?” conversation at the mailbox. A good conversation requires time to have small talk and then get comfortable enough to have in-depth conversation.
- Listen before you respond. In today’s high-paced technology-driven world, you are often planning your next comment before the person you are speaking with has finished talking. Instead of planning your own arguments, slow down and really listen to what is being said. Good conversation takes patience and listening skill.
- Focus on subjects you are passionate about. Conversations about trivialities are not interesting. If you don’t care about what you are speaking about, it is difficult to become involved intellectually or emotionally in the conversation. If sports or politics are your interest, make them your topics.
- Allow for the other person’s opinion. Conversation requires at least two people. In order for the conversation to be successful, both parties have to participate. Both have to listen and respond. By allowing for the other party’s opinion and arguments, conversation can be open and free flowing.
- Validate your conversation partner’s arguments before you present your own. One key to actively listening is to acknowledge what you heard by asking questions, repeating or paraphrasing what was said. This allows you extra time to process what you heard, as well as lets your conversation partner know that you were paying attention and giving priority to their ideas.
- Pay attention to non-verbal cues. Conversation is not just verbal. Our entire bodies are involved in good conversation. Non-verbal cues like body language and tone of voice will give you clues about how the other person feels about what you are saying – if they are adversarial or agreeable.
- Don’t overwhelm the person you are conversing with. Sometimes when we feel passionate about a topic, we can get preachy or energized. Be careful not to let your passion discomfort or offend the person you are speaking with. You want the conversation to be two-sided instead of having the other party be too intimidated to offer his own views.
- Enjoy the conversation. Since good conversation is an art and a skill, try to enjoy it. The more fun you have with conversation and your partner, the better you will become at having meaningful talks.
Being able to have good conversation with another person is a special experience. The rarity of being able to take the time to converse in today’s fast-paced world makes the prospect even more interesting. Take the time to learn something about yourself and your conversation partner by listening and conversing about what matters to you both.