I see conversation as the glue that sticks people together. If you pay attention to how people bond, socialize and build partnerships, you’ll notice that it’s done mostly through the art of conversation.
It’s a very big surprise to me that throughout most of our formal education, we don’t learn how to improve conversation skills, because I believe they are some of the top skills one can have in our society.
Going beyond formal education, I find most books and courses on how to improve conversation skills to be crammed with platitudes and simplistic advice.
Since in my work as a social confidence coach I help my clients apply effective ways to improve conversation skills, I’m going to share with you the key action steps that, in time, I’ve noticed to contribute the most to mastering conversation.
Start with Conversation Confidence
The majority of persons who contact me and tell me they lack conversation skills, I usually find out upon a thorough inspection that first and foremost, they lack conversation confidence.
It’s not that they don’t have something to say or they don’t know how to converse; it’s that they lack the confidence to do so. They’re afraid they’ll say the wrong thing, come off as awkward or make fools of themselves. Thus, they end up being coy in social interactions.
Many times, 80% of their problem would be solved if they would get conversation confidence. But since they misdiagnose their situation, they seek to learn how to improve conversation skills instead, and they alienate themselves in this quest.
If you lack conversation confidence, start by getting this handled. Your lack of confidence is based on perfectionism and limiting beliefs, and it is in fact the primary cause of conversational deficiency. Change your thinking; your conversation skills will follow.
Because there are a lot of things to be said on this, I have a free conversation confidence guide for you in which I’ll teach you a 3-step process to become confident in conversations. Go here to get it.
Get More Social
I frequently hear people who struggle in their social interactions saying that they want to learn how to improve their conversation skills so they can then go out and socialize more. They believe if they just get the right techniques, the social animal within them will come out.
In reality, it works exactly the other way around. You go out more, despite your shortage (real or imagined) of conversation skills, you participate in social activities, you interact with lots of people, you make conversation, and as you do so, your skills sharpen.
This may be an uncomfortable reality because in entails that you face your shyness and socialize more, but it’s the only viable option. The primary way to sharpen your social skills is exposure to social situations.
This exposure, along with a constructive mindset, will gradually make your conversation style self-regulate and it will become more engaging, charismatic and powerful. It’s mostly a matter of practice and desire.
Balance the Energy
Think of a conversation as an exchange of energy. Well, whenever such an exchange takes place, balance is always important. You want the energy going one way to match the energy going the other.
This balance is often the missing ingredient in discussions between two people. In many conversations:
- One person does most of the talking, while the other does most of the listening;
- One person is whining, while the other is providing support;
- One person is the entertainer, while the other is the entertained.
Whenever I see or I am in a conversation like that, I feel like there’s something missing and the social dynamic there is not sustainable.
Like most things in life, good conversation implies balance. It is through balancing the energy in discussions that you become able to make them fruitful for both/all the persons involved.
From my perspective, the better you become at communicating opinions, feelings and experiences using language, the more interesting conversation you can make.
Again, confidence plays a big role. So, make sure to check out my free conversation confidence guide to get this area handled.
I find that many people have a very generic and vague way of expressing themselves. They talk in clichés, and they don’t put the richness of their inner world into the outer world. They may be really interesting people, but because they lack in verbal skills, few others ever find out.
Practice expressing yourself with words. Paint vivid and rich pictures in the minds of your audience, using words. This is something I’ve focused on mastering in many of my public speaking experiences and I can tell you that it’s just a matter of practice, repetition and persistence.
With the four conversation pillars above in place, making artful conversation is not hard at all. It’s easy, fun and something you look forward to every day.
In the process of learning how to improve your conversation skills, keep these pillars in mind and give them priority. They will take you and your social life very far.
Image courtesy of moriza