Have you ever been in a conversation and find yourself with nothing to say? I would think that most of us, one time or another in their lives, have found themselves in this situation. Standing blank faced and empty of mind while the other person looks at you waiting to hear what you’re going to say. You don’t know what to say and you’re stuck in the conversation. Well you will find out that what you say is not really as important as how you say it; and listening is of critical importance. Here are ten things you can practice to help improve your conversation skills.
- Speak in an assertive voice: This does not mean yell or be aggressive, it means to simply speak from your diaphragm. Hold on to your stomach while you are speaking and if you can feel a vibration you are doing it right.
- Use the pauses: Use the pauses in conversation to leave the person you are talking to hanging on to hear what the next word is going to be. Sometimes referred to as the storytelling pause. For example, “I am going to the movies”, leaves them wanting to know what movie you are going too.
- Listen: Never cut someone off, but just listen intently to what they are saying. People can tell when you’re not listening to them and simply waiting for them to stop so you can say what you want too. Wait until they are finished talking and then wait a second or two before you respond, this shows that you not only listened but are taking the time to carefully consider their words. Try nodding slightly as they talk, it also conveys the same message.
- Emphasize certain words: “You are the LOVELIEST person I have ever seen”, emphasizing the word loveliest puts and emphasis on the emotion you are trying to convey.
- Use your hands: Use your hands when you are speaking to emphasize what you’re saying. Non-verbal communication is a large percentage of what we take in when we are speaking to people. You will appear more animated and captivating. Which will help convey all kinds of emotions, and emotions are how people connect.
- Use your eyes: Use your eyes to convey emotions to the speaker similarly to using your hands when you are speaking. You can express emotion by simply widening your gaze or squinting inquisitively to show interest.
- Use threads: Use threads in the conversation to relate to what the person is saying too you. Take just about any word in the sentence they used and make a new thread to the conversation that can help you relate. For example, the person says “I work midnight shift and I find it hard to sleep”, you can respond by saying “Midnight shift can be very difficult, I used to work them in a previous job” or “I have trouble sleeping so I know what that is like”. Similar experiences build connections.
- Use questions: Use questions to your advantage if you ever get stuck in a conversation. If a person says to you, “I am thinking of moving to Vancouver because my parents live there.” You can re-phrase what they just said into a question in order to carry the conversation on and get to know the person better. For example you can say “You’re really thinking of moving to Vancouver just because your parents don’t live there?” This will give them an opportunity to elaborate and continue the conversation.
- Use Laughter: Pay attention to who is laughing more in the conversation, this is a good indicator of who is seeking approval. Don’t laugh at your own jokes or to try to make the other person laugh, only laugh when something is genuinely funny. Laughing at inappropriate times can make the conversation awkward, but laughing together can help you connect.
- Use facial expressions: Smile with your eyes and not just your mouth, it will add charm to the conversation. Look serious or look amused depending on what they are saying. A stone face will not get a good reaction out of people; they might think you are a statue.
So try these conversation tips out to see how they can improve your conversation skills and help you connect with people. Making friends is easy if you know how to connect with people and good listeners make friends quickly. People can tell when you’re genuinely interested in them or just staring at their body parts. So put some effort into the conversation, every conversation. You never know where it might lead...
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