Five Ways To Become A Better Conversationalist

We would all like to believe that we come across as charming and attentive when conversing with others. But do we? Check out these five habits of a great conversationalist.

Have you ever noticed that some people are much easier to talk to than others? Some people you can talk to for hours and never get bored or tired while others seem to wipe you out after only a few minutes. It seems like there are some people out there that can

make you feel like you are the most important person in the world when you are conversing with them. Chances are they are familiar with the following conversation tips.

Ask Questions

He who asks the questions controls the conversation, it has been said. Of course, you do not want to ask a string of yes or no questions like, "Is your name Sarah?" or "Hot enough for you?" Ask open-ended questions to keep the conversation running smoothly. Questions like, "Wow, you're a professor? What does it feel like being on the opposite end of academia?" will keep the conversation from dying too quickly. People love to talk about themselves. Giving people an "open mike," so to speak, will keep them comfortably conversing.

Be Attentive

Nothing will kill a conversation faster than an inattentive listener. The second your eyes begin to dart around the room or you eyes begin to glaze over, you have sent a signal to your conversation partner that what they have to say is unimportant and boring. Contrary to popular belief, it is evident when a listener begins to lose interest. Maintain eye contact

and give your partner physical and verbal cues while listening to them. Nod your head and maintain eye contact. Looking around the room may signal to your partner that you are looking for somebody better to talk to.

Know When To Speak and When to Listen

Some people just love to hear themselves talk. There is, however, a time and place for that. If you have a friend who is coming to you with a problem, more than likely they simply want a sounding board. They want a chance to vent. In times like this, listen and speak when it is appropriate. Try to refrain from "outdoing" their story with a similar story from your own past. In other words, anything that begins, "Oh, you think THAT'S bad, wait until you hear what happened to ME," should be avoided at all costs.

Be Prepared

It is important that you keep abreast of world news to help ease yourself into conversations. Reading just a few articles in major publications or scanning your local morning newspaper will help you to maintain a running list of interesting topics to discuss. You never know who you may meet and what topic may come up in conversation.

Stick to the Topic

When conversing with somebody, do your best to make the conversation flow naturally. In other words, stick to the topic they are discussing until a clear tangent is made into another topic altogether. This can often be difficult to do because certain words or phrases can trigger our mind to think of something else. For example, if a friend is telling you about how "chilly" it was at their brother's wedding the previous weekend, we may start to think about that "chili" we had two weeks ago and want to start discussing that. Refrain from internal distractions.

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