Mastering the art of conversation can take you some time, experience and confidence to polish your skills to the point where you feel confident in speaking with strangers and friends alike. Here are some tips to help you improve your communication skills in hopes of developing long conversations with others.
First, it’s important to gain confidence when speaking to others. If you feel awkward when you’re in a conversation, it can make it difficult for you to display your personality. Instead, you may shy away and not participate in a talk, which makes it much more difficult to build connections. To build that confidence, you should practice speaking with others you feel comfortable with such as a family member or best friend. During these talks, here are some behaviors to look for:
Does your mind wander during the conversation? Take it from me; this is very easy to do. However, when you allow your mind to wonder you lose focus in the conversation. This makes it difficult to get back into the conversation. If you find yourself spacing out, maintain eye contact with the person speaking and when they have finished, asked them open-ended questions. This allows them to continue the conversation and helps you to remain focused.
It’s also important that you are mindful of topics when communicating with others. While you can switch topics, be sure to make a smooth transition so those listening can keep up. If you jump in and out of topics quickly, it’s hard for that other person to keep up. As a result, it can lead to miscommunication between you and your friend.
You should also practice good listening behaviors. As part of this, it’s important to keep good posture, maintain eye contact and don’t fidget or let your eyes wander during the conversation. By doing this, you show the person speaking that you are giving them your undivided attention. When this happens, it’s easier for the other person to open up and they may share more with you, which can help you learn more about them and bond in the process.
Once you have gained some confidence through experience and good communication skills, you can thrive in all social environments. One of the more difficult steps is when friends introduce you to strangers. When this happens, here are some ways to develop meaningful conversations with them.
First, you should find a good icebreaker to make it easier for both of you to talk. Think of your surroundings and use that to develop a topic for you to connect with them. For example, if you meet someone you don’t know at a wedding, ask them how they know the married couple. From there, engage them by asking questions about them such as what do they do for a living. Now it’s important to note that you don’t have to overwhelm them with a bunch of questions like a reporter. By finding that right balance and asking a few questions, you can find out more about them in hopes of finding a common ground between you two.
Another thing to keep in mind is to focus on non-controversial topics. Religion, politics and dirty jokes are areas that are best to steer away from when you first meet someone. You never know what someone’s background is, so that is why it’s important to find out more about them and to keep the topics more general. Once you establish a meaningful connection with them, then you can approach talks that are more serious.
Lastly, when there is that awkward silence in a conversation, you can take two steps. One is for you to panic. This is natural given it’s easy to become uncomfortable when silence strikes. Alternatively, you can find a popular topic to talk about to stop the silence. For example, think of your surrounding, what you already know about the person and use that information to bring up a topic. If you know the person is into sports, ask them if they caught the recent big game. Read my complete guide on how to avoid awkward silence here
Ultimately, good communication skills and confidence are building blocks you can use to connect with others. By following these tips, it can help you develop the skills needed to speak to others in a wide variety of environments and find ways to connect with them through engaging, and longer talks.