For some people, the art of conversation is second nature. They have the gift of the gab, a silver tongue and could talk their way out of almost any situation.
For others, conversation is something that comes less naturally. I don’t think there’s some golden rule, but I think there are some tips which we can all use to improve our conversation skills. Like anything in life, practice makes perfect.
As humans, we communicate with one another on many levels, but what separates us from other animals is language.
So, what does conversation mean?
The dictionary definition describes it as ‘a talk, especially an informal one, between two or more people in which news and ideas are exchanged’.
Let’s break this down.
First, it says ‘a talk’ which may sound obvious. I’ve had many a talk where I didn’t do any of the talking; I did a hell of a lot of listening though.
It is important to remember that it is just as important to be a good listener as well as a good wordsmith. Some people love to talk but that is not conversing with someone, its talking at someone.
Nobody likes to have a chat with somebody who is bringing the mood down, talking about how much they hate their job or complaining all the time.
No one likes a moaner (well not in this sense!). So keep it light, and don’t get me wrong, people talk about pressing matters about the current state of affairs, politics and the like, but you may notice they are smart about it, they will make fun of it rather than moan and this is how satire is born, we can discuss these deep pressing matters without making people run or lose interest.
Even politicians make fun as not to get too deep and meaningful.
Next ‘between 2 or more people’. Always remember to be inclusive to others, if its just you and another person, bring them into the conversation with a question, make sure you maintain a good level of eye contact to keep them engaged. The key take away: Ask people about themselves.
If there’s more than two of you, remember to maintain eye contact with everyone in the group. If you focus on one person you will lose the interest of the rest of the group. Not a good idea, unless of course that is your intention.
It finishes by saying ‘in which news and ideas are exchanged’ and exchanged is key, it is an exchange of words, thoughts and feelings.
So, if someone doesn’t agree with you, that’s fine. Hear them out, you may learn something about their point of view.
Many people are afraid of small talk for some reason but its small talk that leads us into bigger more exciting avenues of conversation.
With conversation, I think its important to remember to be truly present in the moment, you shouldn’t ever want to control a conversation, direct it where you want it to go.
If you allow yourself to be carried on tangents and streams of thought, it will be a far more interesting conversation.
No two conversations should be the same, it is an organic thing that grows right there and then in front of you.
Be nice, be curious, be fun, be flirty, be interesting. Conversation shouldn’t be a chore, its something I feel we are losing hold off especially in a bustling city like London.
So make small talk in the coffee shop, waiting at the bus stop or even on commute to work.
If you are looking to improve your conversation skills, why not try out one of our speed dating events. You’ll have up to 25 conversations in one night. After that, you’ll be a master! Find out more here.
WORDS BY STUART GRAHAME
Stuart is one of our regular hosts and over the years has become something of an expert in dating. Watch out for his regular posts full of dating tips and advice.