In the digital age people’s ability to connect with others and strike up meaningful conversations is weakening. In fact, many employers have to search harder these days to secure employees who possess strong interpersonal skills. Whether you are looking to get hired or get more connected in your current role, accentuating your conversational skills will no doubt boost to your career.
Tips to improve the quality of your conversations:
Learn to be confident
Being a superior conversationalist isn’t just about what you say, it has a lot to do with your confidence. So, how do you improve this? As with so many things in life, practice makes perfect. Ask your friends and family to role play with you, practice meeting someone new and develop your elevator pitch. Push yourself to attend networking events and set yourself goals for the number of conversations you want to have. The more times you engage with others, the better you will become at it. And remember, business people, interviewers and so on, are just people. Try to not to build them up in your mind as intimidating, approach them with the same confidence you would as if they were a friend.
Be aware of your body language
Slouching, looking at your feet, not making eye-contact with your conversation partner, fidgeting, yawning… you get the picture. We all know what negative body language is, so why do we all still do it at times? When making great connections, it is no use breaking the ice if you break basic etiquette ten minutes later. That does not mean that all discussions demand a stiff approach. Rather, take your cue from the person that you are seeking to connect with. If your conversation partner stands up straight and talks intently, you should match this formal approach. On the other hand, if the conversation is light-hearted and relaxed, you can relax your body a little too.
Now You Are Ready to Talk
With mind and body prepared, you are ready to start a conversation, make a positive impression and potentially a connection. Remember, conversations are not a sprint, nor are they a marathon. Do not bore your partner; do not rush them. Rather, ask them “how” and “why” questions about themselves. This will help them to open up.
Learning about a person and asking appropriate questions is the root of developing great relationships. Without prying, foster this idea and listen intently. When the time comes that the conversation turns to you, your earlier practice sessions will prove themselves invaluable.
Most of all, do not forget to turn on your social filter. Perhaps one day these strangers will be your best friends…but for now you do not need to get too personal. Yes, a little self-deprecation will show people that you are human, but aim to present your best self when meeting someone new. With a confident mindset, appropriate body language, and a well-tested (well-filtered) technique, your conversations will improve.