Conversations are supposed to be easy, casual, and fun. But why is it that most of us say, “I’m not a people person” or “I’m not great with words”? We try our best to steer clear of conversations. In most cases, we’re not certain of how to begin, continue, and/or end a conversation. Cottonmouth, sweaty palms, and the feeling of mind going blank are common for those of us who struggle to keep conversations going.
At the other end of the spectrum, we know people who’re great conversationalists. They can talk to anybody and everybody and make it look so easy. It seems as though this communication skill comes naturally to them. But conversation skills aren’t personality traits. Conversation is an art that can be developed and mastered over time by any individual. Even as a good conversationalist you can become even better if you spend time figuring out how to improve your conversation skills. So, what are conversational skills, and do we need them?
What Are Conversational Skills?
Conversations are one of the most common and preferred mediums of interaction. They’re spontaneous, informal and often take place naturally. We learn how to improve conversation skills by making new acquaintances and increasing our social interactions. Everybody can converse but can everybody converse effectively? This is why conversation skills are essential; because they help you listen actively, ask the right questions and pay attention to the important details.
Conversation skills are what help us initiate, sustain, and end a conversation. These skills not only help you navigate day-to-day interactions, they also help in building long-term professional networks. To improve conversation skills is to leave your impressions on people with your words.
How To Improve Conversation Skills
Here are a few ways to improve conversation skills:
1. Take It Slow
You should never rush into a conversation. Take some time to reflect on what you’re about to say. Structure how and what you want to say if needed. Harappa Education’s Speaking Effectively course will help you deliver your ideas with precision. The PAM (Purpose, Audience, Message) Framework will teach you how to approach your audience with a purposeful message. Make an impactful first impression and be an effective speaker who grabs attention effortlessly.
2. Use Body Language
Nonverbal conversation skills are as important as verbal conversation skills. Good eye contact, a respectful tone, and polite gestures convey approachability. The way you walk and carry yourself should display confidence. If you’re introducing yourself to a stranger, approach them with a friendly smile. Laughter is the most practical way to break the ice, so keep a few jokes up your sleeve.
3. Express Your Emotions
Small talk is useful to initiate conversations but how can you make those conversations last? Use your conversation skills wisely and create emotional connections instead. Even if you’re just presenting facts to your audience, don’t just state them. Express your feelings about them. Be vulnerable and honest about yourself. Remember to steer clear of religious or politically-charged comments.
4. Try Not To Interrupt
In order to holistically improve conversation skills, one must listen actively and attentively. Try to minimize interruptions and let the other person express freely. Your intention behind your interruption may be good but nobody likes to be interrupted. If you find yourself interrupting make sure to start by saying, “Before I jumped in, you were saying…”. It not only acknowledges your interference; it also shows that you were listening.
5. Master The Iceberg Effect
Just like icebergs, people have a side to them that’s hidden and needs to be discovered. Improve conversation skills by doing the ‘real talk’. If you wish to really impress your audience, then develop a well-rounded set of interests. Learn about something new every day and stay updated on multiple topics. It’ll help you relate to various types of people and simultaneously build multiple lasting relationships. Contribute to the conversation at the right moments and offer more than surface-level insights.
Conversation skills involve an all-round development of awareness and mindfulness. Always use appropriate words and avoid hurting personal sentiments in order to converse well. Take into consideration the gender, culture, and other social attributes of an individual before you approach them. Let your personal, social, and professional relationships flourish with effective conversation skills.
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