Do you find striking up and maintaining a conversation, with a stranger, an acquaintance or even a friend daunting? You are certainly not alone.
Awkward silences, blushing, tripping over your words or going completely blank are common worries. I remember trying to avoid direct contact with people purely because I had no clue what I was going to say to them, and was sure I would make a complete fool of myself.
However, when you develop conversation confidence, you feel comfortable in most situations. There is no fear of what to say as answers flow easily, and awkward silences are no longer awkward.
As confidence and communication skills develop, it becomes easier to establish good rapport, create a positive impression and even reverse faltering conversations.
But how do you get that conversation confidence? Well, as with most things it is a process, and needs practice. The following tips will start that process.
Don’t try too hard; Say whatever comes to mind and don’t worry about sounding intelligent, well read etc. Just say whatever you are thinking – people will get to know the ‘real you’ which is important when forming ongoing relationships.
Having said that, read articles, books, newspapers and other write ups to sharpen your knowledge on current affairs. You don’t have to know a lot, just enough to make a comment or two in a conversation.
Note the major things that happen to you day after day and work out how you can narrate them as a story. Discuss all the funniest experiences you’ve had – A good story keeps a conversation lively. Be careful with this though, one of my friends has told the same story so many times, I can tell it as well as she can!
Mingle with as many strangers as possible. Conversation confidence will build as you meet new people and practice your developing skills. Yes, you may feel uncomfortable at first but it will get much easier.
Ask questions. In general, people like to talk about themselves. So if you are stuck, simply ask the other person about themselves, what they did over the weekend, where they work, if they like bungee jumping…..anything to get them talking. This can start the flow, either it will naturally lead to more questions or they will ask you something in return. In this case never give a one word answer!!
Listen. It is all too easy to be thinking about what to say next or if you are blushing or any number of other things when someone is talking. This means you miss half of what they say and lose rapport. To really listen to someone is easier said than done. But the better you are at this, the easier the conversation will be, so in every conversation, focus on the present moment.
Don’t feel responsible. A conversation is a two way thing so don’t feel you need to do all the talking, fill the silences or feel awkward. Sometimes a short, comfortable silence inspires the other person to take the lead.
Like everything in life, developing conversation confidence requires practice – but the practice is great fun. Just focus on the all the things you can learn, how you can put a smile on someone’s face or teach them something new.