What are the secrets to being a good conversationalist? Your guide to coming across as interesting
1. Take an interest in the other person
The first thing that comes to mind when someone asks me how to engage in a conversation is: you must show interest in the person and listen to them. I find it so much more respectful when I see that the person in front of me is interested in what I’m saying.
- Do you have any passions?
- Yes, I love photography!
- Oh really? Say, would you be able to take some photos of me? Because I love running, but I don’t have any nice shots of me. Did you know, my record for the half-marathon is 1 hr 5 mins? It’s practically the world record! But I’m also trying to focus on […]
Since I hate having to go through this myself, I don’t want to make someone else suffer the same fate. Listening to the other person is also about remembering what the other person said. We therefore show interest in the person, and it’s always nice to see that we’re being listened to.
>>> Read our tips to overcome your shyness
2. Don’t be scared of silence
When I meet someone, the thing that makes me panic the most is a lull in the discussion! There’s nothing worse than finding yourself in front of someone with a never-ending silence because you don’t know what to say.
But one thing I’ve learned is that you shouldn’t be afraid of silence because it’s something that happens, and it’s no big deal. If we are apprehensive of this moment, it’s easy to feel uncomfortable. Instead of focusing on this stress, we can come back to a subject the other person addressed previously (that’s why listening is useful too). Otherwise, we can bring up another topic of conversation by asking a question!
3. Ask open questions
Indeed, in those moments of hesitation, I think you have to ask questions to show we can be chatty. When we meet someone new, we always ask where they come from, what they do for a living, etc. This is an excellent start, but you shouldn’t hesitate to push it further. For instance, why not ask them their opinion on something?
- I went to see Tenet at the cinema, I love Nolan, but I felt overwhelmed by the movie… Have you seen it? What did you think of it?
All in all, open questions really help us to chat! Indeed, when someone asks us closed questions, we will spontaneously reply with a yes or a no, without necessarily going into any detail. It’s a bit like the opposite game to “Neither yes or no”, because we end up having to reply something like this:
- Are you ok?
- Are you having a good time?
- Did you like the movie?
What we observe is that we don’t develop with this type of question. It’s happened to me many times, but to get out of this hole, I ask the other person’s opinion by saying “What about you?” And if the answer is short, that’s when I try to bring up a more open question.
>>> Learn how to assert yourself and say 'no' with this guide
4. Pay attention to the non-verbal gestures
It’s something I’ve noticed, especially when I started working and had to speak in front of many people. Your body speaks too, it’s what we call non-verbal communication. And it includes loads of things: your voice, your posture, your gestures, your facial expressions, the distance, etc.
For instance, I know that people will perceive me differently if I stand more upright and speak with a distinct voice. My shyness and introversion meant that before, I was often hunched over. Now I try to pay attention to my gestures and my posture as some of them can give the impression that I am more assertive.
>>> Could you be a sapiosexual?
Editor’s note – A confidence issue?
It’s really not easy to open up to others with the art of conversation. Especially during these particular times when we have fewer social relationships, we are less used to having exchanges. This can be frightening because we question whether we will be able to hold a conversation again. If this is something that really concerns you, perhaps you can work on your self-confidence. Indeed, being self-confident is the best way not to be thrown off in your social relationships. And it will have an impact on many other aspects, beyond just knowing how to hold a conversation!
More great content: