Conversation is a necessary part of our everyday lives and no place is it more important then when you’re dating. Being a good conversationalist can get you through a bad date gracefully and can make a good date even better.
There is a trick or an ‘art form’ as they say to become a good conversationalist. There are a lot of things that you can do to improve your conversational skills. While it’s true some people are born with the ‘gift of gab,’ you can learn, develop, and acquire the same gift of being a good conversationalist if you follow some of these tips. Soon you’ll become a better conversationalist in no time and your dates will be talking about you long after the date has ended. Try these tips.
Be willing to listen, more than you want to speak
Your willingness to listen more than you want to talk is one of the key ingredients in being a good conversationalist. Good conversationalists are able to listen more than anyone else, and therefore are better able to respond appropriately when asked questions about the subject being talked about. By listening you are able to pick up on small things in the conversation that would other wise be missed. You will be able to pick up on tone, or the change of tone, inflection and emotion(s) expressed. All of these things you can use to your advantage while you’re trying to be an effective communicator.
Read frequently about diverse subject matters
Good conversationalist can talk about any number of subject matters because they are usually well read. If you’re the type of person that only likes reading fiction, get of our comfort zone and read a romantic comedy, or travel book. Einstein once said that if you study one subject matter for one hour per day, in a year you would be an expert on it. I don’t necessarily subscribe to that school of thought; however I do believe if you read one hour a day, every day for a year, your knowledge will have increased greatly, and you would have more things to talk about. Start by reading your local newspaper from cover to cover.
Get and keep eye contact with the person you’re talking to
Good conversationalists are able to make you feel that everything you say is important. Keeping an eye contact is a great way of showing the person that you’re into what they have to say and what they have to say is important to you.
Ask open ended questions
When talking, ask questions that require more than a yes or no response. So many people get in the habit of asking closed ended questions. For instance, you might ask: ‘is pink your favorite color?’ That’s a closed ended question because the answer can only be ‘yes’ or ‘no;’ instead ask: ‘What is it about the color pink that you like so much?’ This is an open ended question. Open ended questions allow people to elaborate just enough on the answer that you will have enough information to ask another question along the same lines, or segue it into something you have in common.
Find common ground and build on that
There’s certainly a suitable time and place for spirited discussion, debates, and disagreements, but on a date should not be one of them. Good conversationalists have a way of asking just enough questions to find the common ground, and build on that throughout the date. If during your conversation you feel you’ve reached an impasse with the person your conversating with, agree to disagree, move along and look for common ground to begin another topic of conversation.
Turn a negative experience into positive reflection
Most people will, when on a date, inevitably bring up the history of the ex(s). This is usually followed by the perfunctory question: ‘What happened between you and your ex?’ or something along those lines. This question may still be a sore spot for your date and the mention of an ex may illicit negative feelings and/or emotions. Things that can easily make a good date turn bad. Instead ask: ‘What lessons did you learn from your previous relationships that made you a better person?’ This question works on many emotional levels. It keeps the ex in the past, suggest that a lesson was learned, and intimates that because of the experience, they are better for it. This is turning a negative situation into a positive reflection. That type of question allows a person to think back in a more reflective and positive way on what they learned from the relationship.
‘Sandwich’ the negative
During conversations it’s common for someone to ask another person their opinion on any number of subject matters. If someone asks you to comment on something that you have a negative opinion on, learn how to ‘sandwich’ it in between non-offensive statements.
For instance, if someone asks you about your opinion of the President of the USA and you don’t have a favorable opinion on him, you might say: ‘I know the job of any elected official is difficult, and it’s hard to please everyone. However I don’t like the way he vetoed the measure on pork spending, as I think he could have ended the financial waste that plagues most administrations. But I certainly understand that he has that right as the president to veto legislation.’
This lets the person know tactfully that you disapprove of the Presidents policy, but you also close the door to a potential disagreement (argument) if the person you’re talking with disagrees with your statement, and/or if their aligned with the political party of the POTUS.
Know how and when to give compliments
Everyone likes to be complemented. Whether it’s on the clothes they wear, their cologne, style of dress, and/or their profession. At the same time nobody wants to be inundated with a bunch of unnecessary or gratuitous compliments. When you’re talking to someone about something that you see they’re passionate about, compliment them on their achievement. For instance, if someone talks you about their volunteer work they did for the homeless, an appropriate compliment might be:
‘It takes a special person to want to reach out and help the homeless and those less fortunate then themselves, and I can see that you have that special quality.’
This is a type of compliment that will let the person that you’re talking to know that their good deed did not go unnoticed and unrecognized by you, and you admire that quality in them. Of course complementing them on their appearance at the appropriate time wouldn’t hurt either.
Be humorous…within your bounds
Everyone likes to laugh, and laughter therapy is the unofficial best way to get over life’s pains, and to get through dates. However not every person can be funny all the time. It’s always good to know a couple of good jokes and anecdotes, and inject them during your conversations at appropriate times. Use appropriate animation when necessary when delivering a funny anecdote. Don’t try to be overly funny or get out of your laughter comfort zone. Remember humor is like a great spice; it’s appreciated best when used lightly and not many people know it.
These are just some of the small things that you can do to improve your conversation skills. Keep practicing these techniques and more and more you’ll be the dater that everyone wants to talk to and talk about.