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     Volume 4 Issue 47 | May 20, 2005 |

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How to be a Better Conversationalist

Part 2

Chowdhury Abd-allah Quaseed

Last week some of the most essential dos and don'ts of conversation norms were presented to help sharpen "conversations skills" and here are more pointers to make us more conscious about the mistakes we inadvertently make, to help avoid them from now on, helping us become even better conversationalists than what we already are. Most suggestions are derived from common sense, research and experience and most readers already know it all, but reading may help bring the latent knowledge to the surface. Hopefully readers will find the suggestions practical!

Don't talk too loud: Even if you are excited or enthusiastic, it's best to control your voice if you want to hold your audience longer, especially when you are talking to a few people only.

Don't talk too fast: It's best to speak at a moderate speed to ensure that listeners can understand you and has the time to absorb your message into their minds. Too much of speed may blur your words and even make you an object of ridicule.

Don't laugh too loud: Does it not seem scary when people you are talking to, or telling a joke to, suddenly explode into laughter as loud as thunder? It's best to try and develop a well--managed courteous laughing style. If anyone rocks back and forth, leans on others besides themselves, spit or convulse while laughing, then it's time to modify those traits!

Be clear in your pronunciations: It doesn't always matter what sort of an accent you have, but the basic pronunciation has to be correct irrespective of what language you use. An "S" should be pronounced as an "S" and not as "CH" or "SH". A "J" or a "G" cannot become a "Z" nor should a "Z" be allowed to sound like a "J".

Don't talk too slow or drab: It always pays to have energy and enthusiasm in your voice while you are speaking and to match it with the right gestures and postures and expressions. If you talk too slow, you may even send your counterpart to sleep as it increases monotony.

Be confident as you speak: Whatever you say in a conversation should be spoken with confidence if you want it to create the kind of impact you want. Even if you are requesting something, or appealing, be confident in the way that you do it, for it will show that you have conviction on why you need what you are requesting, and may improve your chance of getting it.

Finish eating before you speak: While with friends we often are so enthusiastic that we don't want to waste a moment and so speak while the process of chewing and mastication is still going on! If anyone tries doing so in front of a mirror, I think that would be enough to make one realise the merits of discontinuing the practice!

Excuse yourself properly if you have to take a break for some interruption: Many of us just hold up a hand almost like a traffic signal and suddenly answer the cell-phone, or bolt off to the toilet with a simple "just a sec". It's best to take just 5 to 10 seconds more to politely excuse yourself and explain the cause and give a more accurate time estimate of conversation resumption such as saying "could you please excuse me for 2 or 3 minutes, I will be back from the rest room"! It's also recommended that we apologise once again before we resume the conversation.

It's best to not talk while holding a raised cup of especially hot beverage: Spilling hot tea or coffee on yourself or your counterpart as you suddenly get unmindful or excited, could not only spoil your clothes and your whole day, but may also cause serious injury. So it's best to set your tea or coffee down somewhere after every sip.

Adjust your tone to your audience: It's always important you speak to your counterpart in the way that he/she/they would want you to. Be formal with those who want it, and be casual who prefer that instead. At all times be courteous even with your worst foe and try and say the harshest of things if needed, in a polite manner.

Emphasise on the "You" viewpoint: Speak in a way that lays the emphasis and importance on the people you are talking to and their benefits and not on your own to get the best from the conversation.

As said earlier, there are hundreds of guidelines that could be applicable for every kind of communication, and perhaps more tips on conversations may be provided later, but the ones covered in this 2-part series, are perhaps some of the most fundamental steps to significantly improve one's conversation skills.

Good luck in achieving more through your conversations!

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