Learning how to be a better conversationalist has many benefits for your career and personal relationships. These tips can help you break those awkward silences and win new friends.
In this article:
- Choose Positive, Future-Oriented Topics
- Place People in a Good Light
- Share the Limelight
- Respect Each Other’s Differences and Boundaries
- Find Your Common Ground
- Listen and Be Present
- Ask Open-Ended Questions
- Be Yourself
- Conversations Are Not Debates
- Show Genuine Interest
- Learn the Art of Small Talk
- Follow Things Through
How to Be a Better Conversationalist: 13 Tips
The first step on how to become a better conversationalist is to relax and let the conversation take its course. When you overthink what to say and what others think, you become inhibited, and it’ll show in how you interact with others.
2. Choose Positive, Future-Oriented Topics
Instead of rehashing previous issues, focus on more positive things, like that movie you’re looking forward to seeing and the goals you want to achieve in the future. It’s perfectly fine to bring up the harder topics occasionally, but make sure you’re all on the same page, and there’s a clear reason why you’re doing so.
Here are some types of topics you should avoid, especially if you don’t know the other person well:
- Physical appearance
- Displays of social status
Complain and judge less; listen and present solutions more. Being a forward-thinking person makes it more enjoyable for people to talk to you.
3. Place People in a Good Light
Make sure you try to make a person look good when talking to them. Give the people you’re talking to credit and praise when it’s appropriate.
When you constantly put other people down to build yourself up, you end up with people not wanting to talk to you and not trusting you.
4. Share the Limelight
One person may do more talking than others, depending on context and circumstances. However, to be a better conversationalist, you need to know how and when to share the limelight equally with the people you’re talking to as much as possible.
This means you shouldn’t dominate the entire conversation to the point where people can’t get a word in. There should be a balance because not speaking at all makes you look boring or standoffish.
When you feel like you’re starting to talk more than your share, ask the other person questions that encourage them to speak. If you’re on the other end, don’t hesitate to share more information about yourself.
5. Respect Each Other’s Differences and Boundaries
Having different opinions and expressing them is fine, but don’t impose them on other people. Be open to their point of view, and you may even gain some insights you would’ve never thought about.
Also, be mindful of people’s boundaries the way you want people to be mindful of yours. Unless what they’re doing is actively harming themselves or other people, respect their right to make choices.
6. Find Your Common Ground
Even very different people have something they have in common with each other. Once you figure out what that is, work from that and use that common thread to get to know each other.
If there’s a clash of opinions with no way of things going to a close, agree to disagree and move forward. Let bygones be bygones.
7. Listen and Be Present
Don’t multitask when talking to someone. When you’re not putting the effort to pay attention, you’re not having a conversation.
Being present allows you to listen to the person you’re talking to. This is a vital skill not only in learning how to be a better communicator but also in many aspects of life.
8. Ask Open-Ended Questions
It’s difficult to learn how to be a better conversationalist when others are opening up short, monosyllabic answers in return. To avoid this, ask open-ended questions, which can keep the conversation going.
Questions that begin with Who, What, Where, Why, and How can open up more discussion than questions that can be answered with a yes or no. If you don’t know each other that well, start with basic questions about safe topics like the weather before moving to deeper conversations.
9. Be Yourself
Becoming a better conversationalist means letting your true personality shine when talking to someone. Don’t just mimic and say yes to what the others are saying all the time.
Share what you feel about various things, and let them know what you value and believe in. Being your true self attracts the people who want to be with you and drives away those who don’t.
10. Conversations Are Not Debates
Conversations should be a place to share opinions, not a place for pitting them against each other. You can chat and discuss ideas, but they don’t have to turn into a debate or argument all the time.
You’re not always right, and that’s okay. If you spend the entire time rambling about how much you’re right and why they’re wrong, everyone gets drained, and nobody would want to spend time with you.
11. Show Genuine Interest
Why talk to that person if you’re not interested in getting to know them in the first place? Know who they are, what makes them tick, and what motivates them.
If you don’t even want to talk to them, don’t waste time and move to someone you’d enjoy talking to.
12. Learn the Art of Small Talk
Introverts may not like this piece of advice, but learning the art of small talk breaks the ice and can lead to you to know more people you otherwise wouldn’t have talked to. The good news is that small talk doesn’t have to be awkward.
Here are some tips that can help:
- Remind yourself that small talk has its purpose.
- Ask questions about the other person.
- Share some information about yourself when appropriate.
- Be kind to yourself if you make mistakes.
13. Follow Things Through
Sum up the major things you picked up from your conversation to let them know you had their attention. Don’t forget to show appreciation for the person you’re talking to for making time for you.
When it’s time for things to end, wrap things up to set the tone for more conversations. Let them know of the best way to keep in touch with them and communicate with them regularly.
Learning how to be a better conversationalist is a vital life skill to help you have fruitful and meaningful relationships that can stand the test of time.
You don’t need to be a smooth operator to make friends and make enduring bonds. All you need to do is to be you.
What does a great conversationalist look like to you? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.