to be a Better Conversationalist
situation where two or more people are talking to one another
is a "conversation" and those who are "conversing"
may be regarded as "conversationalists"! Though
we may not pay much attention to how well we converse, since
it comes spontaneously and we do it almost the entire time
that we are awake, one has to realise that this is also a
form of "communication" and is something that one
must make conscious efforts to get better at. Much of the
suggestions are derived from common sense, research and experience.
Most readers are expected to know these in their subconscious
but reading may help to bring the latent knowledge to the
surface where it can work wonders.
a better conversationalist is not only improving one's own
way of talking but also improving ways of receiving what is
being said and responding to that. You could try some of the
suggestions here, as trivial as they may seem and you may
be startled to find just how much more pleasant your interactions
*Appear to be giving full attention: Lean a bit forward and
sweep everything aside in your mind other than what is being
talked about. Try looking at the others' faces without staring
blankly! Allow spontaneous gestures to come into play at the
expressions change in accordance with what is being discussed:
Don't keep the same expression throughout the conversation.
Let your face reflect the tone and the mood. Do not laugh
when discussing a tragedy. Let your expressions change as
the topics change.
the right gestures and movements: Let your hands and fingers
speak along with you. It always makes what you say more effective
if you signal the same thing with your hands and fingers.
listen well, don't just act it: Actually pay attention to
what your counterpart says and try to understand and remember
it. Request your counterpart to repeat or rephrase it for
your better understanding at times to make the conversation
a two way street and to ensure that you respond correctly
if the other person suddenly throws a question at you. Uttering
small "ummm" sounds and nodding the head signals
the speaker that you are following.
show erratic movements: In trying to embrace the habit of
gesturing, don't flail your arms like a windmill, nor fidget
about in your chair. Don't keep on shifting positions, jumping
up suddenly, changing positions with drastic jerks, fiddling
with pens, tapping fingers or clasping and unclasping your
hands and certainly don't click your finger joints.
notes: In negotiations or business settings where you would
like to remember a lot, feel free to take notes in a small
notebook. It shows that you are paying importance and making
the effort to remember. Notes are especially important if
the other person is giving lists of things and helps you to
target specific points in later conversations that the other
person may have stated, which otherwise you may have forgotten.
performing "distractions": One should not do things
that distract the other person which could include doing anything
peculiar continuously such as shaking legs vigorously, picking
one's nose or ears, scratching or itching, or producing convulsive
facial expressions. Playing with key rings, mobile phones
or ashtrays are also common "distractors".
person finish a sentence before you interrupt: It's a good
idea to increase your patience and hold yourself back from
cutting anyone off from the middle of what he/she may be trying
to say. Letting the other person at least complete a sentence
before seizing away the floor improves the total conversation.
a signal that you would like to interrupt before you actually
do: Nodding your head in disagreement showing impatience or
showing expressions of vexation, raising your hand or a pen,
or opening your mouth as if about to speak, are all good ways
of showing that you would like your turn to speak. It's best
to do all this and wait for the opportunity to be given!
the same signals from the other person and give the floor
to others: Similarly as above, watch out for expressions that
indicate that the other person would like to speak as well.
If you feel you can allow an interruption at the stage you
are in, please pause and give the floor. If you feel that
it is essential for you to continue, take a moment to ask
the person to give you a moment.
you try these techniques and actually find a difference, you
will have begun the process of bettering your conversation
skills and you may join us next week for more tips on conversation
writer is a Corporate Trainer and Management Consultant
(R) thedailystar.net 2005