Today, I want to discuss conversations: how to master the introduction, the best questions to ask, and the essential techniques.
Knowing how to talk to others is a crucial skill for developing relationships, growing networks, and solidifying connections. Whether we’re looking at work friendships or potential love interests, it pays to understand how to chat so we can meet new people and move forward in our existing relationships.
The first element of any conversation is the introduction. When first meeting someone, we should always smile, shake hands, and look the other person in the eye. A firm handshake and consistent eye contact are crucial to laying down the foundation of trust.
The next step, and for many people the most difficult step, is remembering the person’s name. To start, when a person first states their name, repeat it back to them especially if their name is difficult to pronounce. If you can’t pronounce the name, inform the person and ask if they have any nicknames you can use.
Once we have the name down, we can ask the person if their name has a unique history or means anything. This will further help in memorizing their name while also leading to an excellent opener for conversation.
Lastly, always repeat the name throughout the conversation. Such as: “That’s a great point, David. Why do you think that is?” The repetition will help you associate the name with the person while ensuring the other person feels acknowledged.
The introduction aspect of a conversation is crucial to helping everything move forward. Always remain confident, look people in the eye, and master their name, so you can keep using it as you progress through the talking.
The meat of a conversation lies in the questioning. When we talk to people, we should always seek to ask questions to gain a better understanding of the person as well as to avoid conversational narcissism on our part.
When asking questions, it’s crucial to never run out of things to say. When you ask thought-provoking, exciting questions, people will want to talk to you more and will be reluctant to end conversations.
I believe that there is room on this blog for a master list of great conversation questions. However, let’s get started with a few key points when asking questions:
Always be sincere – When talking to others, never ask about things you don’t want the answer to. For example, don’t apathetically ask someone about their weekend plans unless you’re really curious. By focusing on sincere topics that you care about, you can ensure that you’re never bored with the exchange.
Ask questions that are personal – Avoid broad questions. A question such as “What is something that everyone looks stupid doing?” requires your partner to think about the perspective of others. Always seek your conversational partner’s opinion when discussing topics, so they’ll feel your focus is on them.
So a better question would be: “What is something that you’ve looked stupid doing?” This question is personal and has a bit of humor to it.
You don’t have to be funny – Not everyone is a comedian, and we should never feel pressured to make our conversational partners laugh. Focus on being sincere when talking to others. Sincerity is always appreciated and is in rare supply in our cynical age. By being confident, direct, and honest in our questions, we don’t need to worry about being humorous for the sake of a cheap laugh.
Always remain pleasant – Emotional stability is crucial. Most conservational partners are put off by anger or annoyance. Always seek to be gentle and professional as well as relaxed and engaged. Lean forward when they speak, point your feet towards them, relax your muscles, smile when appropriate, and nod when necessary. When you are pleasant during a chat, people remember that and wish to speak to you more often.
Compliment the listener’s apparel or accessories – When we wear specific accessories or clothing, we are sending conscious or subconscious signals about what we value. When you notice a person wearing a unique shirt or necklace, use this as a stepping stone to a conversation opener.
For example, “That’s a beautiful necklace, where did you get it?” Is a great conversation opener because the answer may include “family heirloom” or a favored shopping location. From here, we can explore our conversational partner’s background as well as their tastes which helps us better understand them.
Important Conversation Pointers
Now that we’ve covered questions and how to ask them, we need to go over general pointers when conversing with others.
Always be honest – Never build yourself up or try to appear more than you are. It will be difficult to maintain your false version of yourself going forward. People respect and admire honesty, so always seek virtue over lying.
Be humble and listen – Avoid being a narcissist. Seek to hear others and let them say their peace. Never cut people off or become too aggressive during the conversation. When you partner begins to fall silent or start looking towards the exit, then it’s time to listen better when re-engaging them.
Additionally, always measure your response. If I know that a comment I’m going to make is a tad long, I’ll inform the other person before commenting. Little touches like this can make a huge difference in the course of a conversation and show the other person you are aware of yourself.
Always speak clearly and directly – This also goes for any disrespect you may receive. For example, you may have ventured into politics and the speaker is being very negative about a set of ideologies to you hold dear. Calmly ask them questions about their beliefs while clearly stating your own. Agree with them where they are correct but stay firm in your values. Master your emotions throughout the whole transaction, and you’ll gain respect, or the immature person will cease talking to you. Win-win all around.
Never fear a lingering silence – Sometimes silence is a good thing especially with people we’ve known for a good while. If what we have to say does not improve the silence then we should not speak. Additionally, a silence could signal that it’s time to wrap things up and move on with the day.
Be aware – I’ve seen people hold others up. Study your partner’s body language to see if they’re trying to get away from the conversation. Additionally, you can always be direct and ask during the talk if the person has anything else they need to do. They will appreciate your respect and concern for their time.
Never take someone ending a conversation personally – sometimes people have more important things to do. If you believe the person does dislike talking to you, then improve your charisma or simply stop talking to them. The choice is yours.
Religion and politics – Personally, discussing politics and religion has never bothered me. I have found it easy to cover the subjects in the past with a variety of people, including bosses and individuals I’ve recently met.
I like conversing about these topics because it’s crucial to talk with others about the big issues so we can better humanize each other. However, I understand why others find the subjects to be contentious. My advice is to avoid the topics if one does not wish to discuss them.
If the issues do come up, then listen to the other person, maintain emotional stability, and state where one disagrees. Never allow people to state opinions without acknowledging where you stand. Being open about one’s belief can be daunting, but it affirms your pride and confidence in yourself as well as your ideas.
All the best relationships are built on effective, engaging, and enlightening conversations. When we learn how to converse with others, we make it easier to form friends and romantic partnerships as well as cultivate a deeper understanding of other people.
So, master the art of communication and grow your network one conversation at a time.
- How often do you talk to people? Would you like to converse with people more or less? Why?
- Do you feel that you’re good at having conversations or do you think unqualified? Why do you believe you’re good/bad at chats?
- What’s your favorite thing to discuss when conversing with others?
Please remember that it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.
*Image credit to Unsplash.