Ways to keep conversation going
Have you had a really good conversation lately? A conversation requires skills in speaking and listening. Therefore, to have a good conversation, you must be both a good speaker and listener.
Listening is very simple especially if you are interested with the person you are conversing with. “An open ear is the only believable sign of an open heart," remarked David Augsburger. Do not assume that you know what someone else is thinking or feeling. Instead, turn your perceptions into questions. In this way, you can connect with the other with no risk of misunderstandings.
The real breakdown is not that two people disagree. Real breakdown occurs when you refuse to communicate. Here are some pointers in speaking:
1. Face your fears! Problems in speaking usually stem from fears.
Accept that you have those fears and find out more about your communication anxiety level when speaking. Then do something about it.
2. Be comfortable with yourself.
Do what is natural to you. Avoid phrases that make you seem arrogant or presumptuous.
3. Find the humor in life.
Keep a funny joke or anecdote handy. Aside from our need for love and loving, man needs frequent indulgences in laughter. Laughter is a mental and aerobic exercise important for our psycho-physiological well being. In our interactions where laughter reigned, we come out deeply relieved and happy.
4. Disagree without being disagreeable.
Face issues directly. Don’t tackle issues personally. Remember that conflict centers on an issue, not the person. Avoid criticizing or degrading the person; accept that he may have a valid perspective. Affirming the other’s position is not a sign of weakness.
5. Be sincere with your praise.
Nice haircut or shirt? Tell him that.
6. Take your cues from the other person.
If he speaks in shorter sentences, respond in kind. The best conversations consist of give-and-take sessions where the parties form a personal connection. This does not require you to talk too much or give seemingly endless answers. One way to know if you are talking too long is if the other interrupts you. Try to gauge how you are doing with such queries as "Is that what you wanted to know?" The best answers are direct answers that show that you have listened to the question.
7. Ask thoughtful questions
Ask thoughtful questions rather than questions that require “Yes” or “No” answers. Everyone loves to talk about themselves and their interests. Look for clues about the person and comment on them. If he is carrying a book, ask the person about it or the other books he has read.
Doing some research is wise in the sense that you know a few important points before the conversation. For example, if you learned that you and the person have something in common, such as a hobby or profession, try to work those things into the conversation.
9. Choose comfortable conversational topics.
Say something inoffensive and apolitical such as reading, exercise, travel, gardening, family activities, and others. Refrain from topics such as politics and religion.
10. Practice, practice, practice.
It is important to enhance your speaking skills so you can handle all the questions effectively. Prepare for your encounters by studying and practicing. Get someone to help you, by doing a "role play". You will reduce your anxiety, boost your confidence and perform much better if you "know your lines" in advance!
12. Use conventional gap fillers or hesitation noises.
These are the sounds that we make when we pause to think (such as "um" and "uh"). According to public speaking coaches, you must pause rather than utter these sounds. However, in everyday speech they serve a real purpose – they indicate that you are still speaking so that someone will not cut you off. There are other types of conversation filler such as phrases that people use to end thoughts, such as "Okay?" "All right," or "See what I’m saying?"
13. Use your body language.
Make eye contact to regulate the flow of communication and signal your interest in others. Moreover, eye contact conveys interest, concern, warmth and credibility. Smile is a powerful cue that transmits friendliness, warmth, and approachability. Use gestures such as head nods so that you will be lively and animated. Stand erect, but not rigid, and lean slightly forward. Furthermore, interpersonal closeness happens when you and your partner face each other.
Speaking with your back turned or looking at the floor or ceiling is a no-no. Cultural norms also dictate a comfortable distance for interaction.
14. Express that you want further contact.
Take the initiative by asking questions such as: “When should I expect to hear from you?” If all else fails, when you’ve tried everything to keep the conversation going but the other party still glances at his watch, the brave thing to do is cut him some slack. It’s not you, it’s him. Maybe he is heading to an important meeting after all.