Who wouldn’t desire to be thought of as an interesting person? Much of this characteristic depends on how you engage others in conversation.
Are you communicating genuine interest in the other person? Are you only half-listening? Are you sending “I’m listening” signals?
Communicating is different than conversing. You’re always communicating whether you know it or not. Sure, you communicate with spoken words, but also with facial expressions, hand gestures, posture, and stance.
Communication as a whole doesn’t depend on etiquette. But being a good conversationalist does.
A great conversation requires not just respect but includes courtesy and effective listening to hear what might be behind the words spoken.
There are five distinct phases in the relative moment of listening:
The Golden Rule of listening is that you listen to appreciate. Find the value in what someone is saying. Not only does this practice keep you mindful of showing kindness, you’ll automatically think of clarifying questions to ask that help keep the conversation going.
However, we are all guilty of letting our minds wander or finding ourselves genuinely uninterested in what someone is saying. In these situations, you miss portions of dialogue and can easily get caught not following along.
You can detect when you’re only half-listening if:
If any of these things are happening, do your best to pull yourself into being present with your conversation partner. Effective listening is essential if you want to be a good conversationalist.
What is often underestimated in conversation? Small talk!
Small talk is the bridge between you and another person. The beauty of it is that it’s commitment-free.
Here’s how it works:
It takes some practice, but it’s the perfect way to meet new people, engage someone you’ve wanted to talk with, or establish common ground before a segue into a deep conversation subject.
Even if you choose not to fully engage and continue the conversation, the person you approached will appreciate that you took the initiative.
Small talk is a sizing-up portion of the conversation so that you know what you’re getting into before you fully engage. It’s the taste test that lets a cook know what seasonings to adjust before serving the meal.
Sometimes what stands out are differences, yet always looking for the common ground is a pillar of being a good conversationalist.
If you give the other person the benefit of the doubt, and even elevate his intentions in your mind, it can yield a delightful conversation.
Conversation is not about debate. Debate has its place in life, and while we all hope to be able to communicate our ideas in a straightforward and logical way, a one-on-one chat is not necessarily the ideal forum for conflicting perspectives.
Keep your words, expressions, and mannerisms positive. And if a conflicting idea or perspective is brought up, show respect for the person expressing it – even though you are not obligated to agree.
Being a good conversationalist is not an end state. It requires consistent and never-ending practice. But a default to positivity, respect, and kindness will earn you the reputation of being one.