The Ultimate Guide On How To Improve Conversation skills
This is NOT your average “how to improve your conversation skills” type of guide.
We’ll cover the most important trends in improving conversation skills.
But, you’re also going to see new strategies that work great for anyone wanting to improve conversation skills.
So if you’re looking to drastically increase the number of conversations you have, you’ll love this guide.
Go where you feel comfortable being social
This is the first step on how to improve conversation skills. Figure out when and where you’re most comfortable talking to people.
The first question you should ask yourself is, “where do I feel comfortable talking to people?” We’ve all had good conversations no matter who you are, so consider the places, events, or moments, you’ve had good conversations that brought out the best in you.
To improve your conversation skills significantly, find a location, event, or a meeting where you feel comfortable talking to people. It 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.
Continue asking yourself, “where do I thrive the most?” Figure that out, you’ll start to see your conversations improve significantly.
A few more questions you can ask yourself:
- Where can you go which will be lots of easy fun?
- Where can you go where you can actually talk to someone comfortably?
Once you find more comfortable place or activity to have conversations you’ll start to feel more confident. With confidence comes better conversations and a higher chance of meeting someone who is compatible. Which in our opinion, is the ultimate social prize.
Actually, Start The Conversation
Sometimes all you have to do is start. However, we know it’s not easy, but you can only get better if you begin and stay motivated.
When we say, just “start a conversation”, we’re not saying, have a long and in-depth conversation, but more of a quick and simple chat with another person. Don’t think of having conversations as complex but simple moments to talk about your thoughts.
For example, when you’re out getting coffee, chat with the barista about their day, and or ask for a recommendation about what to eat. “Hey, how does the new lavender doughnut taste? Do you recommend it?”. 99% of the time they’ll be happy to give you a friendly response and you can count this a conversation.
Not all conversations are long and deep. They can be quick and simple.
Just get the conversation going. The worst that can happen is an awkward silence. I promise you’ll live and be OK. All that is stopping you, is you. If you want more tips on talking to strangers check our post on how to talk to a stranger. Also, The image below can give you an idea of how to approach someone you don’t know.
Learn Fika, A Social Ritual
If you want to improve conversation skills, be more outgoing with people at work. There are so many opportunities to practice at work.
“What is Fika”? It’s often translated as “a coffee break”. However, it’s not just any coffee break, but a time for friends or colleagues to share a cup of coffee (or tea) and a little something to eat.
For most of us, we spend a large portion of our day at work, 5 days a week. There are dozens of opportunities to start conversations to get to know people and improve your conversation skills. That’s where Fika comes in.
Many Swedes consider Fika important because it allows for pause and to socialize. It help strengthens relationships.
Use Fika as an opportunity to improve conversation skills. Ask someone new or one of your current colleagues to take a break with you and just talk. Once you feel more comfortable chatting with people, invite others to your Fika break. You’ll start to see your comfort level increase when you’ve had more conversation rehearsals.
We also suggest you take a look at our article on how to hold a conversation. These tips will help before you even start talking.
So start planning your breaks with your co-workers to have Fika and practice your conversations. If you want to learn more about Fika, check out the video below.
End more sentences with a question mark
Have you ever been on a date or in a meeting and the other person isn’t asking you any questions? Learn “questioning” skills and be more curious.
If you only learn one thing from this guide, it should be knowing how to ask a good question. It’s important, because learning how to ask questions is a skill you need for your professional and personal relationships.
First, ask questions about who and what. Who are they are and what’s their experience? In any conversation, a back and forth of ideas should be exchanged and the discussion should be a continuous loop, on repeat.
Most people forget when learning how to improve conversation skills how beneficial good questioning can be. It will improve relationships and conversations 10x. A conversation is a dance you perform to get to know someone and plays a vital role in establishing many of the relationships in our lives. Becoming well versed in conversation takes practice and once you improve, you’ll feel more confident going into any social situation.
But, you actually don’t need to talk as much as you think you do.
You just have to ask more questions and be curious about the person you’re talking to.
One of the first steps in becoming a better conversationalist and engaging more people is to become a better questioner. The next time you’re talking to someone be aware of the questions you’re asking.
The quality of the conversation relies on four factors. See below.
Learn to carry and extend a conversation
Asking meaningful questions can extend and greatly enhance the quality of conversation. Asking the right questions is a powerful way to discover meaningful information about the person you’re talking to.
In chapter 4 we talked about how important it is to ask questions. Now, we’ll go into detail about how to ask those questions, because the power of asking the right questions will make you more likable and will improve your conversations overall.
Instead of asking, “How’s your day?” ask, “Tell me about your day? Or, What was good about your day?” Notice the difference? You’re going to get a lot more information when you ask an open-ended question. Also, understanding the power of open-ended questions will help you improve your conversation skills immensely.
Here are more examples:
“Tell me about your weekend?”
“What are some things that gets you excited outside of work?”
“What was it like to travel to Europe this summer?”
Before we go into detail, here is a 5 step process on how you can extend and carry a conversation using questions.
To begin the conversation, keep it simple. Start with basic topics or simple questions that are “safe” topics or “feelers” questions which will give you an idea about who the person is or what their personality is like.
Here are some examples:
“It’s great to meet you! How are you?”
“It’s great to meet you! How’s your day been?”
“What’s your day been like?”
“Have you been here before? (If yes) What do you recommend eating?”
Use these questions (or variations of them) to start the momentum of the conversation. “Feeler” questions allow you to understand the person you’re with, beginning to build a bond, and learning which questions to ask next.
After a few basic questions, start picking up the speed and begin to discover (listening for) meaningful things about who you’re talking to.
Some questions you can use are:
“What are your weekend plans?”
“What are some personal projects you’re working on?”
“What do you recommend for fun activities this weekend?”
“Working on anything exciting lately outside of work?”
At this point, you’ve discovered some facts about the person.
You have clues and ideas to work with, so we’ll give you a few basic follow-up examples below.
If you ask — “What are your plans this weekend?” and they say, “I’m meeting up with friends to get drinks. Keeping it simple.”
Follow it up with: “That sounds great. There are good bar options around here I’ve noticed. Do you have a favorite?”
Follow it up with: “Great. It’s always good to keep things simple. What are some other weekend activities you enjoy?”
Follow it up with: “That’s great. How long have you known your friends for?”
Find common ground and shared experiences to build on. When you discover commonalities, you’ll build trust and become likable faster. When you accomplish this, it’s a great place to ask deeper questions.
After establishing trust and compatibility, discussions over shared experiences give the other person a sense of comfort that allows them (and you) to be open and honest. This is “bonding”, which is the key and allowance to have deeper conversations.
Keep in mind this may also take a few separate conversations to reach this level of connection. Some people open up sooner (or later) than others.
Examples of deep questions.
“Can you tell me more about your family?”
“Does the work you’re doing now make you happy?”
“Can you tell me about your last relationship?”
“Where did you grow up, and what was your family like?”
These are good questions to venture into deep-conversations with when you’re ready.
Remember … A conversation is a dance requiring two people to be in sync with each other. It’s a loop or mutual push-and-pull, unfolding over time.
Build your listening muscles
Believe it or not, listening is actually a significant factor in improving conversation skills.
If you’re not listening then you won’t be able to follow what the other person is saying and you won’t be able to listen for clues to find things in common or ask questions about an interesting idea. Most people want to seem smart and get their thoughts in without listening to what others have to say. Be different and listen more. They’ll thank you for it.
Why listening matters
Listening builds a sense of trust.
Listening broadens your perspective and helps reduce misunderstandings.
Listening helps to build rapport and shows that you care about what others have to say.
3 ways you can improve your listening muscles
You have more control thank you think: Do you do most of the talking or, do you always have your smartphone in your hand or buzzing in your back pocket? Knowing yourself is a key part of being a good listener because you’ll be able to manage the distractions better.
Try to understand what’s stopping you from listening: Are you already planning your response? Are you becoming self-conscious, or bored? Take note of it what’s blocking you from listening and shift your attention back to what the other person is saying.
Don’t let your emotions stop you from listening: When you notice you’re having an emotional reaction, try to manage your feelings and hold back the reaction by pausing. Allowing the other person to finish what they’re saying takes a lot of effort but reacting negatively will turn people off and you won’t make any friends.
Be brief and use fewer details.
People who are long-winded will quickly lose their listeners. Nobody wants a fun story about your weekend to go off on twenty different tangents, or turn into a detailed Dickens novel.
Get into the habit of making your point quickly and concisely. Trimming away excess detail is an easy way to self-edit. According to Joe McCormack, author of Brief, people can only hear about 750 words a minute. The more brief your response is, the more people will hear you and, most importantly, like you.
But there’s a simple way to make sure you’re truly heard in any conversation, by using the “Traffic Light Rule.”
30 seconds the light is green: The listener is probably paying attention.
60 second mark, the light is yellow: Your listener is starting to get distracted.
1 minute mark, the light is red: Your listener is bored or politely pretending to listen.
Take a moment to pay attention to the people you’re talking to. If they’re squirming, looking somewhere else, or trying to walk away, then you’re talking too much. Bring people back to the conversation by asking a personal question.
Need more help with holding conversations? Here is where you can learn more about how to hold a conversation.
Join a social group or get social every week.
Learning how to improve conversation skills doesn’t happen overnight and as we said before, you have to practice.
We suggest getting involved in community events or join some type of social club because these activities can be where you can practice your conversation skills.
Here are some activities you should consider trying:
- Explore local happenings with Eventbrite events
- Enroll in a class – Go to lessons.com to find a class near you.
- Get involved in volunteer opportunities
- Check out meetup.com – you can find all types of social activities or create a group for your special interest.
If you want to meet people online, then check out these options:
friendmatch.com – With FriendMatch, you can make friends from nearby or from around the world.
Bumble.com – Of course, this is for dating, BUT, you can also Learn how How to Make New Friends Online (Without Making it Weird)
Find things in common by using small talk
How to improve conversation skills: Find something in common with with that person. Your conversation will be much easier.
To demonstrate, below is a quick conversation that shows how to arrive at the “I do too” moment during small talk.
Them: “Cool, you live in Brooklyn NY too?”
You: “Yea, near Atlantic Ave.”
Them: “Oh nice! I do too!”
You: “I love the Daily Press Bar, near my apartment.”
Them: “I was there last night!”
You: “They have great trivia on Thursday. We should go.”
Them: “Yes! Let’s do it!”
Even though this is a simple example, it shows how one commonality can lead to a new friendship. In the end, discovering compatibility is a huge accomplishment in conversations. It almost always solidifies a connection and can be used for a more in-depth conversation.
3 tips you can use to make small talk easier
1. Give Compliments – Mention how you like something about their style, experience, or point of view. Giving someone praise for who they are will make you more likable.
2. Read Up on Current Events – Being aware of what’s happening in the world can broaden the conversation and help you find things in common. Even if it’s a simple fact. Check out more facts here.
3. Show sincere interest – Good small talkers are genuinely interested in the details of other people’s lives.
To sum it up, if you want to have deeper conversations, find things in common, and talk about them. The only way to accomplish this is if you start learning how to small talk.
Chat with a stranger today
Reaching out to a stranger will actually make you feel happier. Research suggests we are underestimating the positive impact of connecting with others.
As an adult, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to avoid talking to strangers, because most people are safe. If anything, talking to strangers is a good thing because it can help expand our social circle and build solid relationships with people.
Also, here’s a great video on the reasons why it’s a good idea to talk to strangers. Research has found people are more comfortable talking about themselves to strangers than they do friends and family. People often feel more understood by strangers. Find out why.
Quick Tips. In this chapter we’ll show you a few quick win tactics that will help you improve conversation skills.
Using positive self-talk will help improve conversations.
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.
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!”
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.
Practice. And then practice again.
Developing communication skills can help many aspects of your life, from your professional career to social gatherings, to your family life.
Research from the Carnegie Institute of Technology found that 15% of financial success actually comes from knowledge or technical skills. The other 85%, you just ask for. The ability to effectively communicate, negotiate, and lead, both when speaking and listening make you more money.
Building confidence to initiate a conversation is not easy. With a lot of things in our life, the journey starts in your mind. But sometimes it’s hard to do it on your own and your insecurities are more complex than you thought.
Discovering how to overcome anything holding you back in life is important and can be life-changing. Discover counseling in your area by clicking here.
Lastly, have fun
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!
Now it’s your turn!
Now I want to turn it over to you:
Which strategy from today’s guide are you going to try first?
Are you going to practice more? Or will you invite one of your colleagues out for coffee?
You got this! If you want to chat, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org