Mastering the Art of Conversation

While some seem to be born with the gift of eloquence, most of us aren’t. Fortunately, being a great conversationalist is a learnable skill. You can learn to talk with anyone about anything, and do so with ease.

Being a great communicator is an important skill. The ability to share ideas and influence people is invaluable. It’s also a great way to learn about various topics and foster strong friendships. Imagine the benefits to your social life alone if you were able to master the art of conversation.

Develop these skills and you’ll be a master communicator:

1. Be a good listener. Most people fail to truly listen. Instead, they’re merely biding their time until it’s their turn to talk again. Pay attention to what the other person is saying. It’s obvious to most people if your mind wanders. Learn to be a great listener and you’re halfway to becoming a great communicator.

* Focus on maintaining an adequate amount of eye contact. To avoid staring, change your gaze, and focus on different places on the other person’s face.

* Avoid interrupting someone before they’ve finished speaking. This drives others crazy, and shows that you’re more interested in speaking than listening.

* Be open-minded. You’ll learn more, be a better listener, and be more interesting to those around you. No one likes to be judged negatively.

2. Be curious. If you want to be interesting to others, be interested in them. Others are more willing to be open and share if they believe you have a genuine interest in them and what they have to say. Ask pertinent questions to show interest and keep the conversation flowing.

3. Try to maintain balance. The best conversations have some element of give and take. We all know the person that rambles on endlessly, without giving anyone else a chance to speak. We quickly tire of listening to an endless monolog. If you’re unable to get a word in after several attempts, it’s time to move on.

* Failing to contribute to a conversation can be just as bad. Make an effort to contribute to the conversation. If you’re nervous, try asking a few open-ended questions and focus on your listening skills.

* Some individuals love to talk and are looking for someone that will really listen.

4. Be wary of taboo topics. Others rarely change their minds about topics such as politics, religion, and sex. It’s easier to find yourself in one of these conversations than you would think. All it takes is one offhand comment about a sensitive issue, and you’re off to the races.

5. Relax. Just like your mom told you, relax and be yourself. It can be hard to think of something intelligent and relevant to say if you’re nervous. Take a deep breath and let the words come out.

6. Practice with everyone you meet. You can become great at anything with enough practice. You come into contact with other individuals throughout your day. Take advantage of the opportunity to work on your skills. Co-workers, friends, and strangers are all fair game.

* Start with easier people and situations and branch out from there.

It’s worth the effort to master the art of conversation. Conversation has the ability to strengthen all the relationships in your life. It can even bolster your career, as well as provide the opportunity to make new friends and learn new things. Spending the time to enhance this skill will benefit you for the rest of your life.

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