The holidays crept up on me and it’s amazing how much time you think you have to get everything done when the reality is you don’t, anyway, back on it and ready to dive in to the topic.
What kind of conversationalist are you? Actually, let me back it up a bit and let’s start with this, what is a conversationalist?
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a conversationalist is:
A person who is good at or fond of engaging in conversation.
Yup, doesn’t get more clear and direct than that. And it truly is a skill you can learn and master. Maybe you weren’t born knowing how to speak to a room full of strangers and make them feel like old buddies going out for a drink. Or perhaps you want to work on your skills of persuasion. Maybe you just want to share your insights on certain topics, keep the conversation fresh and always on point.
Well, go out there and practice, be it with a colleague you rarely talk too or someone at your church or that fine lady you see at Peets‘ every Tuesday and Thursday morning. Use these tips and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a conversation guru:
The Icebreaker: This is where the fun begins folks! We all have more in common than we think and if we take the time to notice our similarities that’s a positive for a conversation starter. Maybe you notice someones watch, their accent, the way they laugh, how depressing the office Christmas party is. Anything, under normal circumstances, that you feel might be a worthy entry to start talking, go for it.
Making Contact: I don’t mean intelligent life forms on distant planets. I do mean once you get past the icebreaker stage and made a conversation-connection (as in, I don’t mind talking to you, this works) go on and introduce yourself. First name is probably your best bet and some basic info about yourself wouldn’t hurt. As time progresses hint on about topics to discuss but please don’t just dive right in. Doing so looks desperate for attention and it is off-putting to just unload your life story on someone you just met four minutes ago.
Converse: At this stage a topic is already on the table (hopefully) and your focus is to be engaged, ask questions, add your opinions, and listen. This is the meat and potatoes, the moment where you build on and see how and where the conversation goes. Try no to dominate the conversation; if that does happen you’ll notice how quickly the conversation will go stale and come to an end. In the same manner don’t be too passive either and let the others do a majority of the talking.
The Wrap Up: All great conversations have to come to an end and it best to do it gracefully. Indicate you have to go without getting too complicated of a reason. You are getting ready to leave, you have another obligation to take care of, or you are just short on time. Once you’ve signaled the end of the conversation mention that it was a pleasure, it was great, it was an honor speaking to that person and, if it makes sense, exchange contact info. The contact info isn’t a requirement but it is a smooth gesture and shows the person that you’re genuine. Don’t just abruptly end a conversation while someone is talking unless you get a vibe that this person is starting to get a little weird, starting to get drunk or you realize they’re being an ass.