Sunday, March 1, 2009

Tips for Holding Better Conversations

We converse with other people every day, but have you ever stopped to think about how good you are at this vital interpersonal skill? Think about it, the most successful and most popular individuals are those who can carry on a conversation with almost anyone. With this in mind, here's a few tips to make you a more successful conversationalist.

  1. Don't Compare - A lot of us have this nasty habit of responding to every statement with a comparison from our own lives. For example, someone says "Man, I have a ton of work this week," and you respond with "Me too! I've got 2 reports, a presentation, and a ton of meetings." This shows the other person you aren't truly interested in hearing what they have to say.

  2. Be Concise - When you're asked a question, don't just ramble on or launch into a lengthy story. Consider what was asked and respond appropriately without hogging the conversation.

  3. Avoid Controversial Topics - Sure, a good debate is great among friends, but when you're talking to someone new, try to avoid touchy subjects. It's best to get to know someone before you make them defend their views.

  4. Selective Eye Contact - Maintaining eye contact is an important conversational skill, but don't stare down your companion. Remember to break eye contact occasionally to avoid being intimidating (or simply creepy)

  5. Restate Key Points - Show your genuine interest by restating important points your partner makes. Don't sound like a clone, though. Paraphrase and summarize to show you understand.

  6. Let the Conversation End - Look, you can't talk to everyone for hours on end. When the conversation seems to be waning, let it end on a positive note rather than drawing it out and potentially boring your companion. If you want to talk more, be sure to exchange contact information.

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