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Developing your Conversation Skills

Pointer #2: Listen

listening skills

Try this; actually listen to what your conversation partner is saying instead of trying to think of what you’re going to say next. Very few people actually seem to be able to do master this simple skill. I don’t know what makes this so difficult, but the majority of people just don’t listen. If you actively listen to somebody you are treating them with respect, showing that what they say matters, and you are interested. Maintain eye contact, and pay attention. Within reason of course, you’re not expected to listen while somebody recites the ingredients they memorized from the back of a tube of toothpaste while they were in the bathroom. (sodium bicarbonate, fluoride, potassium nitrate…) Add small comments to show you’re listening, but don’t interrupt.

Pointer #3: The Five Q’s

five q's conversation, small talk, shyness, confidence

An important facet to good conversation is showing interest in the other person. Be an active listener, and ask good questions which can’t be answered with one word answers. If a question can be answered with yup, fine, or uh huh, come back to it later. Having five questions ready will allow you to keep the conversation going, while showing your interest. At your disposal, you now have five conversation topics. Even if you can’t think of anything else to say, for now you’re off the hook. Remember to ask questions that people will enjoy answering, not things like, ‘So Billy, have you ever seen a grown man naked?’

Take a look at the following suggestions. Try them out, or better yet come up with your own.

  • What did you do this summer?
  • How do you like to spend your free time?
  • What have you been busy with lately?
  • Have you seen any good movies lately?
  • Where did you go to school, where is your family from, do you have any pets…

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