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Do you have awkward silences in your conversations or not know what to say? Do you walk away from conversations not knowing what you’ve talked about? Here are a few important tips to improve your conversations within other people.

1) Be Genuinely Interested – The point of a conversation is to communicate with the other person, meaning you need to actually want to talk them to begin with! If you don’t know why you are having a conversation, then you probably shouldn’t be having it! Of course there would be awkward silences if you have nothing to talk about! Genuine interest in another person is essential to keeping the conversation flowing and making both people feel comfortable.

If you actually have something to say, you can always state your reason for wanting to talk to the other person. For example, “I am new to the area and would like to get to know the people here”, “I want to know about mechanical engineering and heard that you were a graduate here”, “I like you and would like to get to know you better”, “I’m studying people and would like to know who you are as a person”, “I always see you here and was wondering who you are”, etc. There would never be any awkward silences in this case because you know what you want to talk about!

Of course, if you did state your desires and the other person looks like he/she feels nervous or uncomfortable with the subject, stop. You can try to find another topic to talk about, or talk with someone else you are interested in. For example, if you said “I want to know about mechanical engineering and heard that you were a graduate here” and the other person tells you that he/she is not, then you can simply move on to something else you are interested in about this person. You can say, “Oh, I’m also new to the area and would like to meet people” or “Oh okay, thanks! Do you know anyone who happens to know about mechanical engineering?”! If that was your only point of interest with this person, you can say “Oh, thanks!” and just go to someone more interesting.

Even if you are genuinely interested in someone, they might not want to satisfy your particular interest. Remember that conversation is a two way street and should occur naturally. Both people should want or need to talk about something!

2) Make The Other Person Feel Comfortable – It may not be so easy to get the other person to satisfy your interest if they don’t trust your motives or feel uncomfortable disclosing information that they deem to be sensitive. For example, you may say to someone of the opposite sex, “Hi, I’m new to the area and would like to meet some people”, but if you are smiling at him/her creepily, he/she might think you want to molest him/her or something.

Therefore, it’s always good to smile and appear friendly and harmless. Then, if the topic is sensitive, you might want to [[build up some trust]] first by disclosing some information about yourself. Introduce yourself, tell them what you do, let the other person know you’re not a serial killer. Then, whether directly or indirectly, disclose your purpose so that they know why they should talk to you!

For example, as I am writing this article on the train, a guy just sat next to me and started asking me, “Where are you from?” The whole time, I am thinking, “What do you want?” There are clearly other seats on the train, and he did not demonstrate some reason why he would like to speak to me. So, the most probable reason is that he wants to make some small talk to pass the time, but I’m someone who’s sitting there typing on a computer. Obviously, there should be some important reason for interrupting me! Additionally, he is sitting way too close to me, making me feel uncomfortable.

When I did answer, he gave me a weird laugh and kept asking me other questions as if he didn’t hear my answer. He also started reading my article out loud, one word at a time, very slowly. He doesn’t look stoned, but is staring creepily at my article, trying to read it. Even though he seems to pretend not to understand, the gaze in his eyes seems to say that he does, so I have absolutely no idea what he wants. As he asks me more questions without answering any of mine in return, I am forced to ignore him.

3) Listen Carefully – This is the next most natural thing to do if you’re actually interested in the person! You are talking to him/her because you want to know what he/she says, right? So wouldn’t it make sense to listen to what the other person is saying? However, like in the situation with the guy who sat down next to me and started talking above, it is surprising how often we don’t do that!

Not only is it insulting to the other person, it defeats the point of having a conversation in the first place! Since people talk because there is a need to communicate, by not listening, that need is not being fulfilled! How can you have a conversation when it’s essentially just one person talking? That is a TV station broadcasting a show, not a conversation!

The guy sitting next to me right now is the perfect example. He is asking me questions and I am occasionally answering, but he doesn’t really react to my answers. It’s as if I never said anything. That’s just a radio channel of some guy. A very bad radio channel.

4) Give The Other Person Time To Think/Speak – In order to listen though, the other person needs to actually be saying something! And they can’t do that if you are talking, right? Just like you don’t want the other person to become a boring TV show, you wouldn’t want to become one for the other person either! So, after you have talked for a minute or two, make sure to pause and give the other person a chance to speak!

Oftentimes, especially if the conversation is interesting, it may take a while for that person to process the information that has been said. This means that even if there is a silence for minutes, he/she is probably just thinking, so let him/her think! Don’t make them uncomfortable by becoming impatient or saying something yourself. Don’t speak again until the other person has given you some sort of indication that they heard you and understand you! You’re just giving them time to give you an insightful response!

Wouldn’t that turn into an awkward silence then, you may ask? Actually, no!! When both people have the understanding that the break is for time to think, it’s actually very very comfortable! In fact, when I talk with the the girl I’m in love with on the phone, we sometimes say nothing for five minutes That’s right, a phone call with 5 minutes of silence! Yet, it’s extremely comfortable because we know the other person is just thinking and taking it all in.

If you have a continued need to keep talking when there is a silence, not only do you not hear what the other person says, the conversation is actually much shorter. It’s simple math:

You Talking Time
Vs.
You Talking Time+ Other Person Talking Time + Silence Time

Of course the second way yields a longer and more fulfilling conversation! Not only do you not have to keep coming up with “topics” to talk about, you get to learn something of interest to you (otherwise you shouldn’t be talking to this person), and make the other person comfortable by giving them a chance to express themselves. Everyone wins!

Hopefully, these four tips will make your conversations better and more fulfilling! Now go out there and talk to someone interesting! :)

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Comments

36 Responses to “Conversation Skills / Tips: How To Have A Good Conversation”

  1. CG Walters on December 24th, 2007 12:09 pm

    Another excellent offering, Warren…thank you.
    peace and wonder,
    CG

  2. Harbinder S. Kalsi, Advocate on January 12th, 2008 6:56 am

    excellent piece of writing. I came onto this site by chance and am influenced by the power of your pen. Thanks for such a piece of work.

    Harbi.
    mail4u2harbi@yahoo.com

  3. Warren on January 16th, 2008 3:38 pm

    Thanks guys, for all the encouragements! :)

  4. Sathish on January 19th, 2008 12:05 am

    Thanks for all your support anf cooperation.

  5. Mani on September 23rd, 2008 12:39 pm

    Good post . Really helps !!

  6. Jim on November 12th, 2008 7:59 am

    I really like your writing style. It made me smile and laugh in non-creepy fashion. :D A little like this, but on my face as opposed to a jaundiced cartoon stuck to a computer screen. Thank you, Warren. You may have just saved my marriage.

  7. Steve on February 26th, 2009 6:13 am

    Not talking on the phone for 5 minutes? Now THAT sounds creepy. If they were that in love and seperated I would like to know what they were REALLY doing :-)

  8. anonymous on May 2nd, 2009 7:05 am

    I really liked this article, and your randomness. And it is very hard to have a conversation with only you doing the talking. For example when I talk on the phone with my boyfriend he just gives me simple answers like “yeah, okay, sure, and ect.” We tend to have the awqward silences and the thinking silences a lot. So my question to you is can you write another article on how to talk to your girlfriend/boyfriend without sounding too lovey dovey or uncomfortable.

  9. Ron on May 4th, 2009 7:08 pm

    I have been suffering from social awkwardness periodically and for the last month, I’ve been a little depressed, but I took your advice into practice and was able to have a nice conversation at dinner this evening. Thank you Warren. I hope you write more helpful article.

  10. kannan from chennai on June 11th, 2009 5:13 am

    hai.this conversation so good. i really like in this chapter. before in this session i had more confusion. but ur clarification is to create how to face other. and onemorething am a job seeker. so got the information in this time very helpful to my interview . thaks a lot . i hope ur way is good. buy.

  11. Bob Jones on June 28th, 2009 11:32 am

    Great, but I have to know… What happened with that guy on the train?!

  12. cupwalker on September 4th, 2009 11:08 am

    i understand that this is more for those who tend to talk too much during a conversation. but what should those who tend to be too quiet do? as in, you are interested in the conversation but just have nothing to say. leading to the other person thinking that you are not interested when you really are. how would you overcome such a problem?

  13. latika on September 5th, 2009 11:08 am

    hi, ur articles are really good.
    i m shy & i always face problem in conversation with people. can u give online tips also.

  14. nika on September 20th, 2009 7:59 pm

    Fabulous Advice!

  15. jason on October 5th, 2009 6:52 pm

    Can you give advice to losers who have no conversation skills? This stuff won’t work, I’m not good looking and I can’t concentrate when I talk so I fade off sometimes. Talk about a conversation ender. I should write articles on how not to have a conversation. So people could just do the opposite of what I do, and they would be very successful conversationalists.

  16. sara on October 14th, 2009 7:23 am

    But how do you think of things to speak about……?????

  17. maedeh on November 22nd, 2009 9:49 am

    wowwwwwwwww
    nice and useful
    tnx

  18. alan on December 16th, 2009 5:16 am

    I am 34 and i hate the fact that i cant make conversation with people and i find it hard to go out lately and i really do not want be alone its like trying to make conversation and i cant

  19. Ameatabh Bachan on March 5th, 2010 8:26 am

    So true!!! I abhor conversation for this reason. There are only a few people I actually care to talk to – everyone else is totally forced because I have to (eventually people demand you talk to them lol). The unfortunate truth is I have nothing to say, and I am not at all insterested in what most people have to say – I’m talking out of sheer obligation (which I’m sure adds even more resentment to my thoughts and gives me even less to say). Being Genuinely interested is EASIER SAID THAN DONE!

  20. amr on April 17th, 2010 1:18 am

    thank u very much it was so useful..and i appreciate ur efforts.

  21. pricy on June 24th, 2010 11:41 am

    Thanks really luv it,but how can u make ur boyfriend change d topic or same conversation he brings up everyday

  22. Roger S on June 26th, 2010 6:23 am

    This is reply for Ameatabh Bachan:
    If you really, really, really hate conversation, and feel it’s false, that’s okay. All you have to do is reply with yes, no and maybe answers, and the other person will soon move on.
    However –
    1) you will have begun or added to a reputation as a rather boring, empty person. If you have any career objectives at all, this is definitely not a good thing.
    2) admittedly, not everyone is on your wavelength, and not everyone is interesting. But reading between the lines, you appear to assume that most people will not gel with you. Only you can answer this, but don’t they deserve at least a twenty-minute chance?

  23. Aileen on July 8th, 2010 9:53 pm

    Very helpful! This is one of the posts that should be read every now and then to remind us of some things we are forgetting. Yes we talk everyday but it way so different with communicating. Having a good conversation can lead to something bigger and better. For business people, this is one way they could get new clients or have existing clients coming back. For friends, this will always keep the bonding more fun and not boring.

    PS: I found an article on 5 Conversation Tips for Dealing with Awkward People (http://sn.im/z6ger) and thought I’d share it with you and your readers.

  24. Monica on October 15th, 2010 1:07 pm

    I think the guy on the train noticed you were writing an article on conversations and was trying to be funny… :)

    Great article! Loved the creepy guy story. I’m a fairly poor conversationalist but figure it’s a skill that I can learn, like any other. It’s fun reading about annoying conversational habits that I have, and that my annoying friends have. It’s fun to say “ah! that’s why I always feel drained after conversing with her! …”

  25. Chica 088 on December 1st, 2010 8:55 pm

    Very interesting. ;)

  26. jae on May 16th, 2011 3:22 pm

    Hi warren, my name is jae. I would really like to meet you one day. You sound very interesting and after reading your stuff, I feel like someone (you) has just entered my thoughts and life exactly on point. I’ll tell you a bit about myself, I am 27, I’m currently unemployed…and I live in England. I’m definitely not a serial killer :) I came across your blog by typing in google – how to control your thinking. Friendly smile…not a creepy one! :)

  27. pete on June 3rd, 2011 12:08 am

    hi
    if you know someone but you can not talk to.
    becase you would not no what to say
    try this one is this yours .and when he look at you smile .he will fill abit shiy his self .
    then say if he or she is on a bus or trian or a plan .say your dog .he or will say i dont have a dog or he or she will say it died or its verey well thank you . you say do you walk it much
    then that will get you in to a conversation
    then question what dose it like to eat .is a big dog
    dose it bit and so so .he or she will talk all the time .if has not got a dog think some other thing but do it the same way

  28. Jacky on July 27th, 2011 5:38 pm

    thanks for the advice.I’m so glad I found it.I hope this advice helps in future conversations…wish me luck and keep it up ^^

  29. Jacky on July 27th, 2011 5:40 pm

    This advice is really helpful
    keep it up man
    thanks~

  30. wehliye on September 16th, 2011 1:25 pm

    i really my name is wehliye but every ona calls me lahawalhiya i like lern english bcasu i am somali boy i am spek somali my age is 15 years old i am not happy just now bcasu my fhather he is diey in 1995 i live in yemen my fmliy and me all we live in kharaz kampn refuuge unhcr can you help me my phone number in 096736489823 ok goodbay

  31. logan on November 30th, 2011 6:08 pm

    Good article. It is just what i needed. I guess comon sence isnt really comon. I feel like i should have known all this cause it so apropriate and natural. Very refreshing thank you.

  32. Sunny on January 31st, 2012 11:22 am

    I am 23 years old . And i didnt know that !!! It is really helpful for me.

  33. doug on February 9th, 2012 9:07 pm

    Hey.. this is a great article. I met someone that I really want to know and I’m not such a good conversationalist. This writing has been etched in my brain to help me outline my future correspondence with him and everyone!

    Thank you, I love your witty outlook!

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  36. Eric McRAe on June 8th, 2012 4:18 pm

    yes i know when i get tired out of stuff i know to think inside my head, i know how to stop talking. These 2 things i need to learn is memory of stuff and how to react to people and situations.