How To Be Better At Conversations
By Anubhav Srivastava ( Register for his Workshop – Build Super Confidence For Super Success!)
If you want to learn how to be better at conversations, this article will provide you with seven great guidelines to do so! Your Conversational skills play a tremendous role in your ability to lead the life you want to have. Whether it is professional success that you want or just want to form meaningful relationships, if you can hold a good conversations your chances of the same are much higher.
Some people are naturally great at conversations and others are not but that does not mean that those who are not naturally good conversationalists cannot learn how to be so. The ability to have good conversations is a skill which you can learn and definitely get much much better at. In this article I will present to you some ways in which you can get great at them
1) Make yourself understandable if you want to be better at conversations.
If the other person cannot understand what you are saying you simply won’t have a conversation so here are a few things you can do to make yourself as understandable as possible.
First, slow down! We all have a habit of speaking fast especially when we are passionately speaking about something or are nervous. But it is not a good idea if no one can understand what you are saying! So inject your words with passion if you need to but slow down so that people actually understand you.
Secondly speak at a volume audible for the other person without being excessively loud or faint. If you speak too quietly, people will have a hard time understanding what you are saying, if you are too loud, they will need cotton buds to cover their ears. Either way your conversation isn’t going to go very well.
Try to speak clearly as well and with emotion. Without emotion you are going to sound like a robot and robots aren’t exactly considered persuasive or interesting to talk to.
We all think conversations is all about speaking up and trying to influence the other person but the reality is that half the conversation is actually all about listening to what the person says! Most people trying to get better at conversations only focus on the actual speaking part while forgetting that conversations are two way communications, not a one way message.
Now when you listen it doesn’t mean just pretending to listen. You see when most people pretend to listen, even when they are really nodding their head, they are not really listening, they are just waiting for their turn to open their mouths.
When you start paying attention to what the other person is saying you can actually have a great conversation. Why? Because what they say will then give you several ideas on how to keep the conversation going in an interesting manner. This brings us to another point which is
3) In order to be better at conversations, start asking questions
The best way to keep a conversation going once you have really started to listen to what the other person is saying is to ask questions. Why? Because everybody loves to talk more than they want to listen and if you can ask questions that are of great interest to the other person (you can guess them based on the things you are listening), you can then keep the conversation going smoothly and really make the other person enjoy talking to you.
It is also important that you ask the right questions. Ask questions that would ideally elicit an emotional and detailed response instead of just a yes or a no. Because the moment the conversation comes down to just yes and no it begins to die.
So let’s say a person you would like to have a longer conversation with for personal or professional reasons says they went went for a movie. Don’t just ask them if they enjoyed it, but really ask them about the plot or things that would lead to a longer response. Sometimes they may not care about the movie at all, that’s fine. Move on to asking something else based on the things they say that is likely to make them continue to talk.
4) Emphasize on the right points to steer the conversation
Also understand the power of emphasizing on particular words in order to make a point. You can have the same sentence and yet an emphasis on one word instead of another can change the entire direction of the conversation
Don’t believe me? Check out the sentence – “When did she mean that he was a thief?” Now read the same sentence whilst emphasizing only one word.
- WHEN did she mean that he was a thief? – Asks When exactly did she say it?
- When did SHE mean that he was a thief? – Asks who made the statement. Was it her?
- When did she MEAN that he was a thief? – Hey she didn’t really mean it!
- When did she mean that HE was a thief? – She never said that HE was the thief. Maybe someone else was!
- When did she mean that he WAS a thief? – Implies He wasn’t a thief only in the past, he still is!
- When did she mean that he was a THIEF? – She never really said he was a THIEF. Maybe it’s just a misunderstanding or maybe she thinks he is Robin Hood 🙂
Understand the power of emphasizing on particular points if you want to take a conversation in a certain direction. If you are monotonous you really have little control over where the conversation will go. Also, you are boring!
5) Avoid Silence
Silence is the conversation killer. If the person you are talking does not seem intent on avoiding you as such, there are a few things you can do to keep things flowing. First be aware of the news or topics that seem to be of interest to the other party. This really depends on the kind of person you are talking with . If the person seems to be the kind interested in politics, talk to them about politics, if they are interested in the movies, talk to them about the movies. Obviously this kind of approach does require you to be well informed about the topic.
You can also keep things flowing by observing the environment around you and commenting on that. This obviously works better in public places than it would do in someone’s home but it is still an option nonetheless. Do ensure that unless you consider having an argument to be a conversation, it is better to not give extreme opinions on things which the other person may find offensive.
6) Don’t force a conversation to keep going if the other person wants to avoid you.
Now while it is a good idea to keep a conversation going by asking smart questions based on what the other person says, it is a terrible idea to keep trying to force a conversation with someone who wants to avoid you. If you ask a few questions and the person seems completely indifferent or does not respond or just responds with a yes or no or a single word, it’s a good sign that they are not really in a mood to talk to you right now. Maybe they want to avoid you but are too polite to tell you directly that you should stop bothering them. In this case, it is better you get the clue and end the conversation on a good note. If you do so then you have a chance to strike up a conversation with them again at a better time. If you still keep trying to force a conversation with someone who wants to avoid you, you will make yourself look terrible. Not only will they avoid you completely and make you feel humiliated, they might warn others of you as well. You will risk coming off as desperate or clingy.
So do yourself a favor and if you have any self respect, avoid conversations with those who constantly try to avoid you. There are far too many other people in the world who might be interested to talk to you. Why not talk to them?
7) Understand that you don’t always need to be right
Success in life is not a debate competition. Don’t you assume that just because you prove yourself right in a conversation, it is always going to have a positive affect on you and your career. Sometimes maintaining the good terms in that relationship, whether personal or professional is much more important than trying to make yourself look smart. Does it really matter if you keep trying to win conversations or debates with your spouse if they start resenting you for your attitude and than that leads to a greatly troubled relationship? Does it make sense trying to always make your superiors look bad in conversations if it leads to you not getting a promotion even when your work deserves it? Remember that unless it is a stand you really feel strong for, from the core of your heart, in most cases it is better to be agreeable and save the relationship than to try and prove yourself right. The only thing you get from insisting on winning an argument is a temporarily elevated self worth and permanently alienated friends.
8) Talk about yourself, but don’t bore the other person.
Talking about yourself is a good idea but only to the extent that it fuels a two sided conversation. If you don’t talk at all and only keep asking the other person questions you will come across as creepy or it will seem like you are conducting some kind of interrogation. Either way it is going to turn the other person off. It is important to share details about yourself especially if the other person has done it too. It will help you become more relatable and help build a rapport with the other person easier.
That being said You have to ensure that whatever you say is actually interesting to the other person and helps them elicit an emotional reaction as well. Here is the deal, nobody is interested in you unless it concerns them in a way. If you keep harping on about something that is not interesting to the other person or does not elicit an emotional reaction from them, then you are basically giving a boring speech, not having a conversation. Great conversationalists strike a fine balance between getting to know the other person without appearing like an interrogator and sharing interesting details about themselves without appearing like a narcissist.
I hope this article has been of interest to you and has given you some actionable tips to help become a better conversationalist. As always it is when you actually apply the tips that you will actually start getting better. Start striking up conversations with people whilst applying the tips you learned in this article. You might not be great at first and might even make a few mistakes but that is okay, everybody learns from mistakes. The most important thing after learning is to get into the action habit of implementing what you learn. That is what is going to separate you from those who are just going to read this article and move on. They are not going to get any better. Don’t be one of them! Commit yourself to improvement is what makes people successful in any field and neing a great conversationalist is no different. So get going!
The author of this article, Anubhav Srivastava is an author, motivational speaker and the director of Carve Your Destiny, a first of its kind inspirational documentary featuring some of the most famous personalities from diverse fields, who teach the viewers how they too can make all of their dreams come true. The movie itself has been seen on Youtube by close to 600,000 people. Anubhav has also been featured in numerous International and India Media outlets such as BBC , The Times of India, Hindustan Times, Rediff.com, Leicester Mercury and many others.
Email Anubhav Srivastava for coaching, consulting or motivational speaking queries at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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