Conversation Tips

(also see How to Start a Conversation)

Be prepared.
Read the news every morning before heading out of your home so that you have some interesting talking points for the day.

If you know that you will be meeting with a specific person, research topics that you think they'll be interested in.

Smiling will put people at ease and lets them know that you're happy to talk to them.

Eye contact.
Making consistent eye contact shows confidence and shows that you are paying attention.

Body language.
Maintain a good posture.

Don't cross your arms (gives off the sign that you are closed off to new ideas) and don't twiddle your thumbs (shows that you are bored).

Say their name.
People like to hear their name spoken out loud.

Try to use their name in the conversation every few minutes.

Open ended questions and answers.
Ask open ended questions which solicit responses that are longer than just a few words.

When answering questions, avoid giving one word responses, instead elaborate your answer.

Show interest and be interested.
The other person can tell if you are interested in them if you are listening more than you speak.

Show that you are paying attention by nodding in response to what the other person has to say. You can also rephrase or repeat what the other person has just said to show that you are being attentive.

Find out what interests the person that you're talking to and keep on talking/asking questions about that topic. People love to talk about themselves and their interests. Usually you can pick up cues about what interests the person if you listen carefully. If you're not sure what to talk about, remember the acronym FORCED (conversations won't feel "forced" if you know this acronym):
  • Family(/Friends) - Ask about their siblings, children, parents and/or friends.
  • Occupation - Ask about their job or school.
  • Recreation - Ask about what they enjoy doing outside of work/school.
  • Current Events - Talk about popular news or sports items.
  • Environment - Talk about your surroundings, the weather, the food/drink they ordered, or the music playing in the background.
  • Dreams - Ask about their future aspirations.

Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People said, "Talk to someone about themselves and they'll listen for hours."

Ask follow up questions
Don't just ask one question, ask follow up questions to your initial question.

If you ask, "What do you do for work?", you can follow up with additional questions, such as:
  • How do you like your job?
  • How did you get into this field of work?
  • What does your work schedule look like?
  • How long have you been working there for?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • What do you like most about of your job.
  • What's your least favorite part of your job?
  • Are you close to your co-workers?
  • What's your commute to work like?
  • What do you think of your boss?

Also see: 101 Conversation Starters | Would You Rather Questions | Random Conversation Generator

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