Image credit The Art of Conversation
Image credit The Art of Conversation

They say that conversation is an art form. Unfortunately, it’s one that royally gets neglected by a lot of people. Sure, you can trade gossip and call it a conversation, but you can be sure that you’re boring somebody (namely, me) out of her skull. But what if I told you that there’s a week dedicated to improving your conversation skills? Yep, even if you think you’re a good conversationalist, there’s always room for improvement and this is your excuse to learn more about making good conversation. Better Conversation Week is November 25-31 this year.

3 Secrets To Conversation Skills

Some More Thoughts on Good Conversation Skills

  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. At its best, conversation is a frank and honest exchange of information and opinions. That means letting other people have their turn to talk. If all else fails, ask somebody else’s opinion about the subject of conversation.
  • Develop a well-rounded knowledge base. You don’t have to be an expert on everything, but it does help to know a little something about topics that frequently come up in conversations with the people you routinely associate with.
  • Listen to what the other person is saying. I’ve seen the people who have good talking skills but not very good listening skills. Be sure to look interested and maybe ask a question or make an observation that makes it clear that you actually heard what the other person is saying.
  • Make them laugh! Have you heard any good jokes lately? You can actually save a conversation with a hilarious one-liner when things are starting to lag a little bit.
  • Choose your conversation partners wisely. You can’t always choose who you’re seated next to on an airplane, but you can choose who you associate with in your everyday life. When you’re on your coffee break at work, do you get more good ideas from Fred the IT professional who gave you some useful tips for picking out your new tablet, or Bill the accounting clerk who wants everybody to know that he should be running the company? Now pick who you want to have your conversations with.
  • Learn the art of collaborative brainstorming. What happens when you put ten geeks with common interests and a common goal in a single room? You get a lot of collaborative brainstorming as they set up an ad hoc network with their tablets and laptops to demonstrate ideas and hash out something that will actually work. They’ll order coffee and pizza delivered on an R2D2-shaped dumbwaiter if they have to, but they’ll likely come out with something valuable you can use. You should learn their skills for collaborative brainstorming and use them when appropriate.
  • Consider your goals for every conversation. Are your conversations goal-oriented or mere idle chit-chat? Don’t get me wrong, idle chit-chat is fine in its place, but if you routinely finish conversations feeling like you accomplished nothing, you might want to think out your goals before you start the next one.
  • Don’t Panic. The author of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy had the right idea with those two words. Don’t panic if you see Miss Jane Know-It-All coming toward you; just pretend you’re in a hurry to see Cousin Bob who has come down with pneumonia and needs someone to watch the kids. And don’t panic if a topic comes up in the conversation that you know nothing about. Just smile, listen and discreetly use your Smart Phone to look up any unfamiliar terms.

How To Celebrate Better Conversation Week

Dust off your conversation skills. If you find a one-week seminar on improving your conversation skills, go for it. With the right seminar experts, you’d be surprised by how much this can improve your ability to have an effective conversation. Even if you can’t, there are videos, books and ways to practice your conversations in a way that is useful to you.

Get out of your comfort zone a little bit. Have a conversation with somebody you wouldn’t normally talk to, like maybe the Mohawk Guy you might have seen in that NASA video parody that one time. You might be pleasantly surprised by how intelligent and insightful he really is.

Maximize every conversation you have during Better Conversation Week. You might develop good conversation habits that will make you a more interesting conversationalist and a generally more fun person to be around.

Polish Your Conversation Skills with These Books

Click on each book cover to quickly improve your skills.