Seven Tips for Having a Better Conversation
Regardless of our intention, sometimes discussions flop either in midsentence or even at the onset. Why is this? Well, there are many answers. Join me, will you, as we discover seven EASY tips for having a better conversation.
Do you ever hear people often say; “I’m shy; I don’t know how to have conversations,” or “Nobody talks to me?”
I do, often, and guess what? I call bullshit. Anyone can learn the basics of practical communication and have better dialogue if they desire to do so. There are so many techniques and tutorials on the free market. Just Google search “how to have better conversations” and there are over a billion commentaries to reference.
Don’t be this guy
For this analysis, though, we are going to approach the art of conversation differently. As you read through this article, you will quickly identify these common killers of conversation and hopefully avoid doing them! Your confidence will grow with and as you continue to converse with others, your engagement will become more dynamic and appealing.
Honestly, it is very frustrating talking to somebody who won’t engage. What’s even worse than the quiet type are the people who often use one or more of these common ways to halt the talk. People want to dialogue and connect with others. So let’s identify seven easy ways to kill a conversation, so we can bring awareness, and create a more meaningful connection.
Lack of Eye Contact
Nothing says, “I am not interested” louder than someone who will not make eye contact with me. While meeting each other eye to eye can sometimes be difficult, eye contact is essential to connection.
Imagine, you are standing in a room face to face with another person talking about something. Meanwhile, the other person is scanning the room for something to catch their eye. To me, that speaks, “I am preoccupied with something else and I am not nearly as interested in what you are saying.” Killer, right?
Fidgeting, scanning the room, and fixating on someone’s wardrobe are all ways to circumvent eye contact. For instance, I approach you to tell you about my new job promotion. I am excited and as I begin to share, you reach up and fix my necklace. This small gesture or interruption can negate our entire conversation thus leaving me to feel less important than my necklace hook. Avoiding distractions such as these are key to maintaining better eye contact.
True, it can be very uncomfortable staring eye to eye with somebody, and you will, at some time, need to break the gaze. Knowing when to glance away can be tricky. As a general rule, make eye contact while the other person is talking to you. Look away briefly as you speak, and then reconnect with your eyes.
Your Mobile Device
Today, it seems as though more people glue themselves to their screens. I find it frustrating to chat with someone while they are continually looking at their phone. Would you agree? Our mobile devices are quickly becoming our go-to friends and the topic of conversation.
Admittedly, when situations become uncomfortable or awkward, I reach for the comfort of social media. Unfortunately, our gadgets are a disruptive force in our communication.
What I am talking about are irritating ring tones, buzzers, and sounds. I know sometimes they help you identify your caller as to whether you are going to take a call or disregard it. However, when engaged in a chat between two or more people, it begins to sound like a child asking for a new toy. These interruptions quickly become annoying and frustrating. For me, it tells me that whatever we are talking about is less significant than the incoming call.
Sometimes an incoming call or message is urgent, and you must attend to it. Perhaps, though, avoiding this common conversation killer is as easy as stating right up front that you are waiting on a call from somebody, and you might have to cut this conversation short. Maybe you could even say something like; I have an urgent message that could come through any minute. So thank you for allowing me to monitor my texts and calls while we are speaking.
Effective communication is a two-way street. Unless you are teaching someone something specific, it is better to leave the “shop” terms out of the conversation. People are not impressed with your in-depth knowledge of widget making unless, of course, you are directly talking about widgets.
To keep the flow going, try sticking to the broader aspects of the subject. Being extremely detailed in the topic can lead your friends to Bordomsville, especially when they have no idea what all your acronyms mean.
Interrupting, by far, is the quickest way to kill a conversation. Although there may be times that it is necessary to interject, err on the side of caution. Intentionally disrupting the flow of the dialogue is very frustrating to everyone. The interruption can come across as impolite or even rude.
Allow the other person to finish their statements, and perhaps as they do, they will answer your question before you have to ask. Hang in there, and you will have ample time to respond.
Dropping the Volley
Have you ever played volleyball? Team 1 serves the ball, Team 2 volleys the ball back across the net, Team 1 sets it up and hits it back over the net. They continue this play until one of the teams misses the shot.
At times, my conversations sometimes sound like interrogations, especially if the other person doesn’t understand the fundamentals of basic communication. I serve the question or statement; the other person responds without sending something back to me.
Me: Hey SusieQ, How’s the new job?
SusieQ: It’s fine
Me: So, what’s your day like now that you are back to work?
Susie: Get up, go to work, come home, sleep.
Me: (Kill me now)
Me: Hey SusieQ, How’s the new job?
SusieQ: It’s pretty good. There is a lot of new information and I am a little overwhelmed. I have been out of the workforce for 15 years, so I hope I can catch up. Have you ever thought about going back to work?
Me: Sure, actually a lot. And I am sure I would feel the same way. It can be scary and intimidating for sure. Tell me about your coworkers?
A continuous chatter back and forth is how a conversation should work. Learn to volley. Person 1 makes a leading statement or question. Person 2 responds with another prominent comment or perhaps a matter of their own. Volley back and forth. They ask, and you answer, you ask, and they respond. See how nice that sounds?
Have you found yourself in a pleasant conversation with someone and one of their friends or colleagues approaches? Was it a cohesive conversation that incorporated the new person or did someone get “shuffled out?? Hopefully, these scenarios will better explain the term.
Liza and Susie-Q are talking. You walk up to the in-progress chat because you want to say hi to your friend, Susie-Q Now, as you stand there patiently waiting for Liza to STFU, she doesn’t. She doesn’t even pause for a breath. Liza just rambles on without acknowledging you. Do you feel uncomfortable and want to excuse yourself even though you haven’t even been recognized. Congratulations! You are “shuffled out.”
Susie-Q and I are talking. Liza walks up, smiles, and WAITS for us to finish our sentence quickly. I hesitate, allowing SusieQ to introduce Liza to me. I now have the opportunity to bring Liza into the conversation by presenting some backstory OR starting a new line of dialogue that would include ALL 3 of you.
What more likely happens is Liza interrupts the flow, SusieQ does not make an introduction, and then Liza and SusieQ enter into some dialogue that is unfamiliar (Shoptalk) to me. Hence, I am “shuffled out.”
It is polite to recognize others as they approach your group. Making people feel welcomed and at ease is all part of being a good conversationalist. If you can’t remember or don’t know if people know each other don’t be afraid to ask, “Hey, have you two been introduced.” Don’t just assume everyone knows each other especially if you are the host. Most of all, be inviting and inclusive with the conversation when others approach your group.
Being a One Upper
Have you ever had a chat with someone that has to one-up you every time? It doesn’t matter what the circumstance is or what the scenario is; that person has a more extreme account of their experience.
Wait! What? You are that person, and you didn’t even realize it? Maybe it is just time to let other people have their glory day. It’s ok. You can support your high-achieving friends without feeling like you have to compete with them. Let them brag, congratulate them even.
Now that you are aware of how to kill a conversation seven easy ways, begin to notice your dialogue. Allow yourself to be more attentive, inclusive, and engaging in your conversations. Practice your new techniques and give these tips a try. Be sure to let us know how they helped.
Until next time…Be Mindful, Inspire conversation, and Encourage each other! Be sure to visit us on Facebook!
Keep talking, Travel Safe, and Adventure Often,