Conversation is an essential social skill, but did you know that it can also be considered an art? The art of conversation is about going beyond good communication, and getting to the level of mastery.
Mastering the art of conversation means that no only are you good at achieving your goals through talking, but also become a noticeably pleasant to talk to.
You can get so good at it that people explicitly tell you that they’ve had a great time talking to you. You start to get that comment on a consistent basis.
In this article, let’s go over 9 best tips to getting there and mastering the art of conversation.
1. Clean Up Your Talk
Here, I’m not saying you should never say any dirty words. It’s not about that at all. This is about cleaning up the ideas you communicate.
Cleaning up the ideas you talk about means that you get rid of the excessive details and fluff. When you express yourself, make your point, make an argument, or tell a story, share only the important details.
This is especially important if you’re talking in the context of a group, where you have a limited time to express yourself.
This makes a big difference in how you’re perceived and how influential you are on others. Because you only express what’s necessary to make your point or tell your story, there is less noise.
People get more time and energy to process and consider your ideas, instead of spending that energy filtering through all the unnecessary details.
Polishing your talk is part of the Art of Conversation.
As you may have noticed, intelligent, successful people can say a lot of things in a shorter amount of time. They have streamlined the way they share those ideas and mastered the art of conversation.
Once you start doing this, you’ll be able to connect with more people, faster. You’ll also start having more fulfilling and productive conversations.
2. At First, Assume That You DON’T Understand The Other Person
A basic technique of conversation is to always strive to understand the other person. Ask questions, reformulate, and then tell them something related to what they said, so you can prove you understand.
But here, to get to an advanced level, you do the opposite. You assume that you don’t get it. You start in a position where what the other person tells you is almost a mystery.
The reason this is great for how you use the art of conversation is that it puts you in a great position. This is a position where you’re intrigued, open minded, and curious.
When you assume “you know what they’re talking about,” you miss out on the most important details. You just get the surface, and don’t listen closely enough to find amazing things about others.
When you assume that you don’t understand, you force your mind to find hidden gems. These are fascinating details about stories, ideas or whatever the other person is sharing.
They’re more interesting than anything else that’s being said, but you can easily miss out on them if you quickly assume that you get it.
3. Be Intentionally Appropriate
When people socialize, they want to be less formal and more personal and even let their hair down when possible. Even in professional networking events, people strive to make personal friends and be more themselves.
So the lesson here is not to be too formal when socializing. That’s the basic idea. But again, you’re here to learn about the art of conversation and get to the advanced techniques.
The advanced tip here is to be less formal, but be formal, appropriate, and polite when you need to be.
From time to time, you show through how you talk, that you can be formal and appropriate. You show that there is that side of you, and you can use it whenever you want.
The effect of this subtle move is that it shows your friends and friends of friends that they can rely on you, socially. They realize that you know how to carry yourself appropriately in situations where that’s necessary.
A basic example is when a stranger or one of their bosses, or family members is present. They know that you can act appropriately and make them look good.
It’s great to be personal, jovial, fun, and even goofy. That’s what people want, they want to let their guard down and have fun with friends.
But it’s important that you can also behave the other way, the serious way when that’s called for. Again, this is a subtle tip. You use it only from time to time, but it has a long term effect on your reputation. Your friends start to assume that they can take you anywhere and introduce you to anybody.
4. Manufacture Enthusiasm In Conversation
The reason I use the word manufacture here is to insist on the fact that you have to create enthusiasm intentionally. When in conversation, it’s not enough to be enthusiastic and optimistic when those feelings are already there in the vibe.
If you’d like to master the art of conversation, you need to show enthusiasm even when there’s is no clear reason to feel that way.
And you may ask “enthusiasm about what?”
It’s about the conversation itself. You feel enthusiastic and somewhat excited that the conversation will go well and it will be interesting. Even as you just start talking to someone, you need to bring extra optimism about that conversation.
This makes a big difference in how you’re perceived by others. You become that person who takes charge of making sure your conversations go very well.
People with average conversation skills aren’t pro-active and don’t take charge. If there is something to be excited about, they get excited. If there is a chance the conversation will be boring, they feel and act boring.
Don’t be reactive. Be proactive, take charge, and bring enthusiasm and optimism to make the conversation interesting and exciting.
5. Give Sneak Peaks Of Your Interests
When meeting someone new, a person with average conversation skills sticks to talking about just a handful of conversation topics. This gives the impression that they are a limited person. It seems as if they are limited in what they can actually discuss.
This is not something you want to happen to you. You don’t want people to wonder what you could ever talk about if you were to meet again. You don’t want them having doubts like “Well… they seem nice, but I don’t know if we have much to talk about.”
This often happens even to people who are genuinely interesting and can discuss a variety of topics.
But the first impression they give, of only talking about a handful of things, makes them seem limited and even boring.
To avoid this, make sure you go over as many of the topics you love as you can. All topics are related to one another. And you need to find opportunities to give a wide image of all the things you’re particularly interested in.
It gives a wide image of who you are. And people assume that there is so much they can talk about with you.
For example, you can show some culture, intelligence, professionalism, physical activity or sports, any intellectual interests you have on the side, and mention some of your travels.
If you go over topics like that, when meeting someone new, they quickly realize all the things they can discuss with you. This makes them more likely to want to have many more conversations with you.
6. Develop Your Comedic Timing in Conversation
Part of the art of conversation is to be able to diffuse the tension, make things less serious, and connect with other people. Great conversationalists know how to do that.
They’re not necessarily laugh-out-loud funny, but they have a basic level of skill and can make you laugh a little.
This is more important than people assume. A good sense of humor that you can use when you need it shows that you’ve been around. It shows that you’ve had many interesting and fun conversations and have good social skills.
It quickly puts you in a category of people who can have a great time with others.
You don’t need to be supremely funny, you just need the basics.
Humor is essentially about timing and the effect of surprise. You can read about humor if you’d like, but I’ve found that the best way to develop your comedic timing is to learn from your favorite comedians directly.
As you enjoy their humor, ask yourself why your favorite comedian is funny. What was so funny about a particular line or joke? Try and find how you were expecting the story to go one way, but it went another way. Notice the timing of the punch line.
You don’t have to consider yourself a funny person to be able to do this. You don’t even have to analyze comedy that much either.
All you have to do is pick up the habit of noticing why the things that made you laugh are funny. Try and find the structure of language and how that made you laugh.
Soon enough, you’ll start to pick up some of that humor instinct yourself and use it in conversation.
If you’d like to read a book on humor, I suggest this one.
7. The Art Of Conversation Can Be Rehearsed!
If you go out to meet new people and see some of those very skilled people in conversation, they can be impressive. It seems that everything they say is on-point. They seem to tell stories very well and make their points brilliantly.
What you might not know is that most of those things you hear them say, they’ve already said them to others before. They’ve had a few tries at them and now can say them almost perfectly.
In other words, they get to rehearse all those stories, expressions, and arguments.
You might want to take a page from their book here. If you’d like to master this art of conversation, realize that it’s okay to be prepared and even rehearsed.
Try and rehearse telling your favorite stories and expressing your favorite ideas and opinions. Have fun with it.
Even better, whenever you stumble upon a new idea or story, quickly imagine how you can tell it to others. Rehearse in your mind how you can say it in a way that will allow others to enjoy it as much as you do.
What you have to realize is that your brain organizes ideas in a way that is different from the way you should express those ideas clearly. In a way, you need to translate from ” the idea in your mind ” to ” the idea, well said and shared .”
For example, the next time you hear a great idea from a podcast or a documentary, imagine yourself telling others. Even if you do this just for fun, it’ll go a long way to prepare you to express your ideas very effectively.
Master The Art Of Conversation
To master conversation, you need to be more ambitious than the average person. It’s good to be merely good at conversation. But you can do much more than that.
You can access a level of skill, and art, that makes you stand out in a special way. People who meet you will instantly put you in a higher category.
They quickly realize that you’re one of those they want around. This is especially the case if they are great at conversation and social skills too.
Socially skilled people have an easier time trusting and befriending those who are at the same level as they are. And you can definitely reach that level of conversation skill.
You need to learn it, practice it, keep your ambitions about it high enough, all while not taking it too seriously, or beating yourself up when you make mistakes.
I hope this article helped you have a clearer idea of how to get started and hope you’ll apply these tips soon.