Learning how to have a good conversation
You might find yourself wondering how to have a good conversation, especially since society is run on social interaction. If you’ve ever found yourself wishing there was a way to learn to master conversation, you’ve come to the right place.
In this guide, we’re going to teach you the best methods on how to have a good conversation so that you can build more meaningful conversations with people that in your social life and career.
We’re going to dig deep into how to have a good conversation, how to practice your conversational skills, and how to continually polish them so you can communicate easily and effectively in any situation.
Now that we’re all geared up. Let’s get started!
Before we get into the list of tips on how to have a good conversation, below are the general ideas successful conversation. These are the general ideas someone needs to be good a to easily start a conversation with someone and make a good connection.
However, keep in mind not everyone will want to talk or you’ll feel compatible. What you need are the skills and to be persistent. If you want to view our course to take your social skills to the next level, click here.
1. Learn to feel less anxious
Make sure that your conversation has direction and some sort of endpoint in mind; a destination if you will… Speaking with intention and direction creates purpose, and purpose helps boost self-confidence during a conversation. If you think you have social anxiety, take the test here for instant feedback and help.
2. Practice and Prepare
Preparing your questions and answers will help you make a great first impression. Feeling prepared will help you feel more confident, however, preparation does not mean memorization. Over-preparing can backfire, and this can create anxiety about memorizing your lines. Use preparation as a helpful tool and a basic guide, but not a rule book.
Approaching the conversation in a relaxed demeanor will help your mind naturally remember relevant topics that you prepared as the conversation evolves.
3. Bring a friend if you can
Bringing a friend along can almost always make it easier to have a good conversation. A friend can act as a safeguard and/or cheerleader until you’re confident enough to have one-on-one conversations without support.
4. Breathe to relax and feel less nervous
Mark Divine, a U.S. Navy SEAL and the founder of SEALFIT, says there’s one practice that has helped him rise above others as a method to quickly and reliably help him become centered and focused. He used controlled breathing called “box breathing”. Breathe in, hold for 4 seconds, and breathe out for 4 seconds. Trace a box in your mind while breathing.
5. Approach who looks like they need a friend
We’ve all seen people who look alone, shy, or nervous. Say Hi, Hey, Hello, how are you? Shake a hand, be friendly, and make eye contact. You can also use this to relate to each other. If you notice you’re both nervous, speak up so no one feels alone. “I’m nervous too!”, or, “These events can be so awkward sometimes!”
6. Remember to initiate conversations differently
Talking to someone at a bar will be more relaxed than someone at a professional event, where you will likely be more formal. Some social events are easier and less intimidating than others, but this can vary from person to person and depend greatly on the situation.
7. Go where you feel comfortable having conversations
To really make progress, practice by socializing in a place where you thrive. Finding a location, event, or meeting where you feel comfortable talking to people can be key to socializing more comfortably and having great conversations. Don’t drain yourself of energy by forcing yourself to go places you hate. Ask yourself where you thrive the most.
Figure out when and where you’re most comfortable when talking to people and take advantage of that in your efforts to learn how to have a good conversation.
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8. Find an ideal place to have a conversation
Here is an ideal list of potential places you might feel comfortable engaging in a conversation. Remember, to go places you feel comfortable socializing and where you’re likely to meet people who are compatible.
9. Educate yourself about conversation strategies
Knowledge of communication and using it daily will help you to build confidence. Educating yourself by reading this guide will also make you more confident because you’ll have something to reference. Reading books, listening to interviews, watching videos, and experiencing different conversations will also be extremely helpful in educating yourself.
10. Practice. The more you practice the easier
Quality practice is a huge part of learning how to have good conversations and truly helps you take your skills to the next level. Consistency in your practice is key. Knowing what to say and making a great impression takes practice, and with enough practice, you will have more and more confidence with each person you speak with.
Your confidence will lead to better conversations, and this effect will snowball. Eventually, you’ll be able to have a conversation in nearly any situation with complete ease.
11. Get Feedback from people you trust
Get as much feedback as possible. While you shouldn’t rely solely on the opinions of others to boost your confidence, you do need to validate how effective you are and how far you’ve come along. Validation can also be very effective in building confidence when you receive good advice or constructive feedback. We recommend receiving feedback from someone you trust and feel comfortable with at first. Think of 2 people who can provide honest, constructive feedback and ask them to evaluate your skills.
12. Practice positive self-talk and positive affirmations
It has been proven that positive self-talk can improve your confidence and reduce stress, along with other benefits. Get into the habit of practicing positive declarations. Say positive things about yourself and the situation you’re in that make you feel uncertain. For example, tell yourself: “I am confident in my abilities.” “Everything will work out.” “I can do this!” “With each conversation, I am getting better.” “I will rock this interview!”
13. Be OKAY with mistakes when talking
No one likes to “fail”, but failure is an indicator of learning. Sometimes society makes us feel like a mistake is the end of the world sometimes or that we should never make a mistake. However, mistakes are human nature and most humans learn best through mistakes.
Even more, if you are serious about getting confident, then you need to become comfortable with not being perfect. There is no easy way to do this, but according to Peter Guber, you can fail faster. Fix your mistakes as soon as you realize it and learn how to avoid them in the future.
14. Avoid negative people during social events
Find a trustworthy partner for this journey and share experiences only with the people you trust and who will encourage you. Surrounding yourself with supportive people can change your life.
Raj Raghunathan, Ph.D., Professor of Marketing with the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin, writes, “It can be excruciatingly difficult to deal with negative people – people who bring your mood down with their pessimism, anxiety, and a general sense of distrust. Imagine being constantly discouraged from pursuing your dreams because “very few people make it big.”
15. Explore counseling to improve social skills
Building confidence to initiate a conversation is not easy but it can be done with motivation. With a lot of things in our life, the journey starts in our minds. But sometimes it’s hard to do it on your own and your insecurities are more complex than you thought.
Working on yourself is about diving deep into your thoughts, history, and insecurities. Discovering how to overcome the things holding you back in life is important and can be life-changing. Overcome and understand your thought “I never know what to say” by discovering counseling in your area by clicking here. You also get 20% off using this link.
16. Learn how to be charismatic
Charisma is defined as someone who is admired, accepted, and influential on others around them. If you’re charismatic, people will want to talk to you, and you’ll find it much easier to initiate and hold conversations.
If you’re a shy person that feels awkward at times or your mind goes blank occasionally, just remember that being likable is a skill you can improve with effort. In fact, all it takes is confidence and experience in making conversation. We can all achieve a level of conversation where we are pleased to be around and to say things that are interesting.
17. Charisma is not a skill you have to be born with!
However, with time, you can become charismatic because it’s a learnable skill. All you have to do is practice the right behaviors. “Charisma is simply the result of learned behaviors,” says Olivia Fox Cobane, author of “The Charisma Myth.” Even more, you don’t need to be physically attractive, extroverted, or have a certain type of personality.
Below are some actionable tips to keep in mind. Most importantly, remember to use these tips in your next conversation to become more interesting and likable. Some of what is listed below we also go into detail later in this guide.
18. Be Sincere during your conversations
Being genuine goes a long way. It helps the other person feel more comfortable and related to you. Don’t pretend to be interested in someone. That could come back to bite you in the future. Always remember that one of the main goals of a conversation is to find a connection, to be sincerely interested, and genuinely curious about the other person.
19. Ask impactful and interesting questions
This is a huge factor for success! Asking meaningful questions can extend the conversation and greatly enhance quality. We go in-depth about which questions to ask later in the guide. Don’t worry, we have plenty of examples for you to test out.
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20. Keep an open mind and listen
Try not to judge people is an important aspect of learning how to have a good conversation. Being open-minded makes you approachable and easy to talk to. This also allows you to ask more questions and find a connection with the other person.
21. Don’t show off, it turns people off
If you try to show off or prove how important you are people will be turned off. No one likes a self-absorbed know it. Be humble. Stand out, but don’t stick out like a sore thumb.
22. Have a consistent mood and behavior with people
Being able to have a consistent mood is very important because people like to know who they’re dealing with. If your mood tends to fluctuate, try to not let it affect people.
23. Use positive body language
Try not to cross your arms or turn your body away from the person your talking to. Use consistent eye contact, lean toward the person you’re talking to, and use an optimistic tone. Be aware of your gestures, expressions, and tone of voice.
24. Create a strong first impression
Say their name and smile while talking or introducing yourself. Greet with an appropriate hug, a friendly handshake, or a touch on the shoulder.
25. Be OK with where you’re at during the journey
Go easy on yourself. Just because someone else might be “more likable” doesn’t mean you should compare yourself. We are all at different levels at different times. Focus on your journey and continue to improve as much as you can.
26. Have fun and don’t put pressure on yourself
Don’t take yourself too seriously and enjoy the experience. Try not to worry about making mistakes, most likely no one will notice. Finally, likable people bring out the best in those around them. They create an atmosphere of happiness and positive vibes. Add these recommendations to your conversations and watch your likeability skyrocket! Tap your charisma potential!
27. Carry a Conversation with rapport
Most people usually decide if they like someone, trust them, or want a relationship with a person within the first few seconds of meeting. This is why creating rapport is an important factor when it comes to having good conversational skills.
Nalini Ambady and Robert Rosenthal, publishers of Thin Slices of Expressive Behavior as Predictors of Interpersonal Consequences, conclude that people make quick and accurate judgments in the first few seconds of meeting someone. This is determined without even hearing someone speak.
You’re in control of influencing those initial impressions with your approach and ongoing rapport-building skills.
28. Gain the trust of the person you’re talking to
In fact, using simple techniques to show you’re a safe person is important in any environment. Use hand gestures, good posture, a positive tone of voice, eye contact, and say their name. Keep your hands visible and never skip a handshake. Be as confident as you can because humans instinctively want to be around others who look and behave like a “winner”, or someone who is “successful”.
Without a doubt, always try to find something in common. Humans are attracted to others who have similarities. One way you can do this is by making the other person feel good about themselves through flattery and positive comments – just be sure not to overdo it.
29. Use positive comments during conversation
Judith E. Glaser, aThe CreatingWE Institute writes,
“Positive comments and conversations produce a chemical reaction too. They spur the production of oxytocin, a feel-good hormone that elevates our ability to communicate, collaborate and trust others by activating networks in our prefrontal cortex…Behaviors that spark oxytocin, by contrast, raise conversational IQ.”
Using positive and encouraging comments is a very important aspect of any conversation. If you’ve ever been around someone who makes negative comments or complains about almost everything, you know exactly what we’re talking about and have a good understanding of the types of people to avoid. Just think about the person at work who never has anything positive to say. It’s draining, and people usually don’t want to be around that person.
30. Memorize at least encouraging and supportive comments
“I’m so happy you had a great weekend!”
“Wow! That’s impressive. Tell me more about your job.”
“You’re ready for this interview! You’ll do great.”
“I love the way you told the story about your trip to Italy. I felt like I was there!”
“If you keep practicing as hard as you do, you might go pro!”
These are meant to make the other person feel good and want to come back to you for more conversation. Remember, be sincere. Practicing a positive attitude and using positive comments during conversations will increase your bond with people. You will be more attractive and more desirable to be around when you’re supportive. Practicing positive thinking and positive conversations will increase your likability!
31. Defining Your Voice
Remember; how you say your words matter because the tone of your voice is impactful. According to a study done by a psychology professor from UCLA, Dr. Albert Mehrabian, there are three elements that account for how well we receive someone’s message and they impact us differently: The three elements that affect us differently are: Words, tone of voice, and body language.
32. Use Small-Talk to Find More Information
You can begin learning how to have a good conversation by leveraging small talk. It’s an important part of a conversation many people brush off. It helps maintain flow and hold engagement. Using small talk is important because simple topics are often the ones that spark much deeper conversations. Several sessions of small talk build substance for more authentic conversations and help create more rapport at the same time.
Small talk allows you to evaluate another person and their background. It can reveal a lot, such as if they are whiny, sad, happy, a positive person, judgmental, or a potential friend or client. It’s all about using the information to build the conversation or end it.
33. Memorize at least 2 small talk openers
“Good morning! I’m Sasha. Since I see you every day here at the office I wanted to introduce myself.”
“Hey! What do you think of the weather today? It’s definitely a beach day.”
“What did you think of the NBA finals last night? Great game.”
“Hey Tyler, how are things going over at the customer service department today?”
“Hey! I’m really looking forward to drinks after work today. I hear Sasha will be coming with us too!”
You can always bring up a topic from a news story or an article you read that day and ask the person if they’re familiar with it. Sometimes this is one of the best ways to begin a conversation.
34. Turn listening into active listening
Taking turns and not dominating the conversation is very important. This seems obvious, however, it can be hard to put into practice. At times, you may want to yell out ideas, and thoughts, argue, disagree, or get excited. Try to control this. Allowing the other person to finish their complete thought is a sure-fire strategy for having a smooth exchange of words.
Another part of listening is to look like you’re listening – be present and aware of the person who is speaking, not drifting off into your mind or focusing on something else that’s happening nearby. To be a good listener, you must give the speaker your full attention.
You can do this by following the tips below:
Focus on the person in front of you – Giving someone your undivided attention is a huge compliment.
Use eye contact – But not so much that you look like you’re having a staring contest.
Use body language – Nod your head, smile, and point your body in their direction.
Be empathetic – Put yourself in their shoes.
35. Go deeper with deep questions
When practicing and learning how to have good conversations, you should always strive to be unique and interesting. The questions below are great for starting something up and then taking it to a deeper level.
You don’t want the generic “Where are you from?” type of questions unless the setting is ripe for that. You want to be different, which will help keep the conversation going. Not all of these questions will work in every situation, but they will significantly improve many of your conversations. For example:
What are some personal projects you’re working on?
Working on anything exciting lately outside of work?
What did you like about tonight’s networking event?
What was the highlight of your day today?
What was the highlight of your week?
What was the best part of your weekend?
What are you looking forward to this weekend?
Tell me about your weekend.
Tell me about your family?
What are some things you have going on this weekend?
What kind of work do you do?
What are some things you’re doing at work you like?
36. Spark longer conversations with different starters
Fun questions can really make things interesting. Don’t be afraid to try different conversation starters especially if they’re fun! If you’re confident enough to try something new, try using some of the fun conversation starters below…
What was the last funny video you watched on YouTube?
What is your favorite Netflix show?
What are some of your future travel plans?
Which countries have you traveled to?
If you’re traveling to a new country, what’s the best way to travel?
What are some of your hobbies or things you’re passionate about?
What type of music or songs puts you in a good mood?
What’s the best way to discover music these days?
What do you think phones and computers will be like in 10 years?
What type of sports do you watch?
What’s your opinion on college athletes getting paid?
37. Learn to thread a conversation together
Conversation threads are questions followed up by a more in-depth question related to the topic. For example, you’d follow up a simple and direct question with something more open-ended. Ask the question, wait for the person to answer, and then follow up with another interesting or open-ended question.
Here are a few more examples:
“Where are you from?” followed by “What is your hometown like? How is it different than here?”
“What do you do?” followed by “What made you enter your profession? What inspires you about that type of work?”
“Have you attended these networking events before?” followed by “What did you think of today’s speaker?”
“Did you have a good Friday night?” followed by “What kind of fun did you get into last night?”
“Did you like the restaurant?” followed by “What do you recommend eating there?”
38. End a conversation effectively
Moving on from a conversation can sometimes be critical. Especially when trying to make friends and be likable. First, decide if you want to continue a conversation or have some type of relationship with this person. You usually sense if there is a connection within the first conversation.
39. Properly Move on From a Conversation
End the conversation gracefully by being as courteous as possible. Below are some examples of how to end the conversation gracefully.
“It was great meeting you! I’m going to continue to mingle around.”
“It was great meeting you! I’m going to continue to meet people. Here is my card if you ever want to reach out.”
“I’m going to get another drink. I’ll see you around.”
“I’m going to meet my friends, it’s nice meeting you.”
“If you would like to reach out, here is my card.”
“Thanks for sharing your experience, have a great night.”
“My goal is to meet at least one more person. Who would you suggest I talk to next?”
Have a few in mind, especially if you think you might come across a boring conversation. Keep in mind that the goal is to connect, meet people, and have meaningful conversations. Don’t let anyone take up all your time. Most importantly, don’t feel bad or guilty about exiting a conversation that might not go anywhere.
40. Properly Establish a Connection
If you want to establish a deeper meaningful relationship with someone – Simply ask the person if they want to continue speaking elsewhere. Save this strategy for people with who you feel a real connection.
A great tip is to offer help, support, and advice, you create a deeper bond with someone and a permanent similarity.” Ending a conversation by asking, “What can I help you with?” will make a larger impact on the other person leading to a more meaningful relationship.
Here are some things to say:
“Because you’re visiting for the first time, here is a list of great places to visit in town.”
“Since I’m familiar with people in that industry, I can introduce you to a couple of people on LinkedIn.”
“Losing weight is hard, I know a great book I can recommend.”
41. Go further with the conversation
Create deeper relationships with people who you sincerely want to connect with after a conversation. Use the “tell me!” strategy to deepen conversations.
If the person you’re talking to mentions something you don’t know about or have little knowledge of, ask for more information on the idea or topic. This is a moment in the conversation you can figuratively say, “tell me!” Here are some examples:
“I’ve never been to that part of Europe, tell me more about it.”
“I’ve never met anyone who has worked in that industry. Tell me more about it.”
“I’ve never heard of that documentary before. What is it about?”
“You have so much experience traveling. Where do you recommend going for my next trip?”
“I haven’t seen much of New York City besides Times Square. Since you lived there, what are some cool places only the locals know about?”
42. Don’t let low self-confidence get in the way
Research reveals that positive thinking is much more than just being happy or displaying an upbeat attitude.
Barbara Fredrickson, a positive psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina, says, “Negative thinking and negative emotions can produce problems such as anxiety disorders, aggression, depression, low self-confidence, and many other stress-related physical disorders.”
The first step to avoid this is to stop seeking approval or validation and compare yourself to others. After all, the important thing to keep in mind is that we’re all on different levels of learning and it’s so easy to see someone else’s final product. The most attractive skill you can develop is self-confidence. If you think you’re depressed, take the test here for feedback.
43. It’s all about how you react to the silence
Stay confident, take a deep breath, and remain positive. You’ll send the message to yourself and to everyone else that what’s happening is normal and not awkward at all. Lookout for any physical similarities or objects you can talk about.
For example, if you notice the person you’re talking to is wearing a New York University hat, you can say:
“Did you go to NYU?” or “What was it like living in the city for school?”
If you walk into someone’s office and notice baseball memorabilia, you can mention:
“Are you a baseball fan?” or “Who’s your favorite team?”
If you ask, “are you a baseball fan?”, it can lead to a “me too” conversation where you discover similarities.
Silence is acceptable and remember not to panic. Breathe! A few seconds of silence isn’t that big of a deal if you don’t make it one. End the conversation or move on to your next question or thought.
44. Reflection is a powerful mechanism behind learning
After you have ended your discussion or have come home from an event, reflect on your interactions with people. You can do this by talking to your spouse, or friend, writing in a journal, or thinking about it on your way home. Ask yourself: What did I learn? What did I do well? What can I improve on? Did I have fun? Who should I follow up with?
American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer John Dewey: “We do not learn from experience … we learn from reflecting on experience.”
All things considered, take 5+ minutes to reflect after your conversations. This will help improve your skills and identify behaviors that are going great for you and that need more training. This will help you learn and increase your conversational IQ.
Summary of How to Have a Good Conversation
1. Go where you feel comfortable and thrive.
2. To make good first impressions, you must create rapport.
3. Small talk gets the conversation warmed up for a deeper and more meaningful conversation.
4. Be different, be novel, and be interesting. Deep conversation questions help carry the conversation and relationship.
5. Open-ended questions spark longer and deeper discussions. Start with simple questions or the ones above.
6. Conversation threads. Ask the question, wait for the person to answer, and then follow up with a more interesting/open-ended question.
7. Use open-ended questions to nudge the conversation into the deeper, more authentic territory – where introverts tend to thrive.
8. Decide to end a conversation gracefully or create a more meaningful relationship.
9. Ask someone if they want to continue the conversation elsewhere for people you like.
10. Reflect. After you have ended your conversations or have come home from an event, reflect on your interactions with people.
What To Do Next?
You now understand how to have a good conversation! You now possess the raw fundamentals of how to have a good conversation with practically anyone. However, you can learn more by going to our FREE TOOL post.
Initiating conversation and creating relationships is hard, especially if you’re new at it. Many try and many fail, but you should never give up on becoming a better communicator. This guide is a road map toward your success and will give you a head start over many people who don’t try. Without a doubt, you need to practice these ideas every day and try to experience as many conversations as possible.
Step as far as you possibly can outside your comfort zone. Start creating more small talk. Most importantly, have fun!
Just like an athlete continually works to strengthen their muscles or endurance, you need to work to strengthen your conversational skills by consistently practicing. With some time, you’ll begin to see results and reap the benefits of your hard work.
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