The past few years, I’ve slowly become more and more extroverted.
One factor leading to this was reading a book on how to be a better conversationalist. I thought it’d be helpful to share the best tips from the book.
Have a general guiding “goal” in mind when you speak to someone. This doesn’t mean you’re duplicitous or fake. It just means you are giving meaning to your conversation. When someone asks you “What do you like to do?” they aren’t just asking for information. They’re trying to make conversation, for one reason or another. And so should you! Maybe you want to get to know the person better. Maybe you want to find areas of common interest. Or maybe you want to persuade them to marry you. My goal lately has been to make people feel comfortable. If I’m speaking to someone who loves to gab, I try to give them the floor. If it’s someone who seems reluctant to speak, I try to find an appropriate topic for conversation.
No one is “out to get you.” It seems to be part of the human condition to be neurotic and assume people, even people you’ve just met, secretly have an issue with you – perhaps that is evolutionarily beneficial for survival. But that just isn’t true! People want you to feel included, and they want to like you.
Present yourself in a way that makes you feel confident. It’s amazing what a nice haircut and some stylish clothes will do to your own self-perception.
You don’t have to please everyone. If you meet someone new at a party and you don’t “click,” that’s fine. Just talk to someone else.
I came up with this next one. It’s very obvious, but it takes practice. You have to TRY. As a teenager, I often found myself frustrated at my limited ability to make conversation. Reflecting on this recently, I realized that I didn’t really ever try to converse with new acquaintances in any meaningful way. I believed I was introverted, so I didn’t bother making conversation. That’s not something introverts do, or so I thought. That wasn’t logical, of course, but I’ve learned since then we will do pretty much anything to uphold our self-concepts.
I also came up with this last tip. If you are having trouble thinking of anything to talk about, just say ANY stupid thing that comes to mind. You can ask the person what they think of grapes. Or if they’ve ever dreamed of flying an airplane. Or if they know how to spell onomatopoeia. You’ll notice that people will probably find these seemingly absurd topics more interesting than you would have guessed.
I hope this helps. If you’d like to navigate conversations with less stress, I highly recommend Always Know What to Say (it’s free on Amazon Kindle). Check it out if you want to know more, and I will be writing more on this topic in the future.