Carrying on a conversation is a lot of work. It takes a lot of effort to engage people in a discussion that is mutually profitable and enjoyable; most times, someone benefits from it while the other just looks on. That reminds me of an experience I had several years ago. A friend paid me a visit and stayed over at my place. After an event-filled day, I looked forward to a refreshing rest but my friend obviously had another intention. He started a conversation and we both had a nice time discussing the subject. As time passed, however, I became more and more drowsy and my desire for my bed became irresistible. The gentleman, on the other hand, was just warming up. After a while of politely carrying on my side of the conversation, I decided to send some subtle signals to him, hinting that we had to call it a night. After a few yawns, which definitely went unnoticed, I dozed off. To my great surprise, I awoke a few minutes later to discover that he hadn’t even notice! At that point, I had to courteously ask that we go to bed. When a conversation is one-sided, it definitely bores the other party involved.
I discovered that a lot of people have challenges with conversations. While some people speak too much, some others speak too little. Some people are considered to be introverts but they are not; their only problem is how to carry on a conversation so they stay silent. There are some times that you meet people and after the initial greeting, you don’t know what next to say. You find yourself thinking hard about the next question to ask just to avoid an awkward silence.
Some people even prefer to travel with book just to avoid prolonged conversations with other passengers. If you have experienced the above, then you are not alone. Even some celebrities share similar experiences. Pete Wentz, an American musician, lyricist and music video director once said, “Sometimes when it looks like I’m deep in thought I’m just trying not to have a conversation with people.” And here we are thinking that celebrities have to be nice all the time! Also, a writer by the name Jarod Kintz said, “I’m not good at talking. Can’t I just nod my way through a conversation? It’s better than nodding off.”
After some time of observation, I have come to realise that only a few people converse. More people believe they are conversing, though they are not. However, majority would rather stay on their own than converse. Let’s check out a few things that can help you improve your conversational skills:
1. Be friendly: the first rule of conversation is to make the other party comfortable.
2. Choose mutually relevant topics for discussion: avoid discussing a topic that will make you do all the talking.
3. Be a listener: a lot of people don’t listen to others speak. These people just want to say all they know about the topic without giving their partners the opportunity to respond. If you are a good listener, you will never lack topics to discuss because one point made by your partner can lead to another.
4. Avoid making yourself the subject: some people are so carried away by their ideas or achievements that at the slightest opportunity, they tell people. The problem here is that they tend to make themselves bigger and their listeners smaller. No one wants to talk to anyone who directly or indirectly intimidates them; they would rather talk to people who make them feel comfortable.
5. Don’t pry: it can be really uncomfortable to have to answer personal questions, particularly when they are asked by a stranger.
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