What are conversation skills and why are they important?
Conversation skills are interpersonal traits that allow individuals to communicate effectively with others. Conversation skills include active listening, language usage, empathy and storytelling. It is important to have good conversation skills because it can help you professionally present yourself at work. Here are a few more examples of why good conversation skills are important:
Helps establish meaningful professional connections
By using good conversation skills, you have the ability to make others feel valued. It also enables you to develop the conversation further to learn more about one another and your professional interests.
Encourages mutual understanding
When you understand how to converse with others and continue conversations, you can help the other person understand your views and learn about theirs too. By understanding one another, you have a better chance of maintaining positive communication and working well together.
Helps you articulate your ideas
Knowing how to converse with others allows you to share your thoughts and ideas in a well-spoken manner. This demonstrates your professionalism and helps you gain support for different projects or business ventures.
Face the other person and keep eye contact
If you feel uncomfortable or don’t like being around people, you might intuitively look or turn away from the person you’re talking to. The problem is that people interpret this as disinterest or even dishonesty,  which means they won’t want to invest in the conversation.
To me, family, occupation, and recreation are topics for small talk. The really interesting conversations are about passions, interests, and dreams. But you need to make small talk before people are comfortable enough to dive deeper into more fascinating topics.
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Practice being OK with silence
When there’s an awkward silence, that doesn’t mean that it’s only you who needs to come up with something to say. The other person probably feels the same pressure. Practice being comfortable with silence at times. If you continue the conversation in a relaxed manner, rather than stress out while trying to think of something to say, you’ll help the other person relax too.
Brief, interesting stories can make a conversation livelier and help other people get to know you better. Have two or three stories ready to tell. They should be easy to follow and portray you as a relatable human being.
If someone enjoys your story and they have a good sense of humor, you could ask them for a story in return. For example, you could say, “OK, that’s my most embarrassing moment this year. Your turn!”
On a Date
- What’s the last thing that made you laugh out loud? The only thing people love more than laughing is making others laugh. This conversation starter also gives an opening for people to show you a hilarious video or share a memory that you can giggle about together.
- What was your first car? Is there anything more nostalgic than a person’s first car? Whether it’s laughably embarrassing or impossibly cool, they’ll almost certainly want to share a story about their first set of wheels.
- What person in your life brings you the most joy? A perfect chance to talk about their mom, grandfather or other beloved family member or friend, this topic is sure to lead to more conversation as your date shares stories about the person they love.
- Do you have any tattoos? People usually love sharing the stories behind their tattoos. Or if they don’t have any, they’ll probably be happy to explain why.
- Do you have any pets? What are their names? Get to know whether they’re a dog or cat person (or reptile or bird!) and find out the meaning behind Fido’s name.
- What were you obsessed with when you were a child? Dinosaurs, monster trucks, Barbies — every kid has an obsession and finding out your date’s childhood interests might help you learn more about them as an adult.
- What’s your most controversial opinion? People love giving “hot takes.” Find out your date’s ultimate controversial opinion and be ready to share your own point of view on the topic, doing your best to reach understanding if you don’t agree.
- What’s the most annoying habit a person can have? Bond over shared annoyance with this topic (or find out if you have the habit they hate).
- What are you going to order? If you’re at a restaurant, bar, coffee shop or anywhere else with a menu, this easy conversation starter is sure to get the other person chatting. Plus you’ll figure out the vibe of the date (i.e. cocktails and apps or a beer and a huge steak).
- Where’s the most beautiful place you’ve ever been? This question works well for travelers and homebodies alike. A citizen of the world might tell you about an exotic foreign locale while a less-traveled person might tell you about a particularly special area close to their hometown. Either way, the conversation is sure to flow.
If you don’t have children of your own or aren’t around kids often, it can feel daunting to try to chat with them. But the truth is most children love to talk to grownups, especially about a topic that interests them. Bust out these ideas at your next child’s birthday party or sporting event.
- What’s your favorite dinosaur? Of course, not every child likes dinosaurs or knows enough about them to have a favorite. But many of them do, and if they don’t, they’ll be happy to tell you something else they do like. Be ready to follow up with “How about planets?” or any other child-friendly topic.
- Do you have any brothers or sisters? Family is a favorite topic for most kids since they spend all their time together. This is especially true if they have a new baby in the house and are getting used to their older sibling status. Be sure to follow up with “Are they older or younger?” and “What do you like to do together?”
- What show are you watching right now? Kids love to talk about their favorite shows, which they likely watch over and over. Ask why they like that show and what is their favorite episode.
- What food would you eat every day if you could? A fun alternative to “what’s your favorite food,” this topic will likely bring some hilarious answers. You can follow up with questions like “What kind of candy?” and “How many bowls of mac and cheese could you eat in one sitting?”
- What’s your favorite color? What about your brother’s favorite color? If there’s one thing kids catch onto early, it’s their favorite color. And they likely know the preferred hue for their family and close friends.
- What are you going to do for your birthday this year? Don’t worry if their birthday has already passed or they aren’t doing anything big. Kids love to talk about their grandiose birthday plans — even if they will never happen. This topic also lends itself well to follow up questions like “What kind of cake will you have?” and “Who are you going to invite?”
- What’s your favorite subject in school? For kids, school is their full-time job. It’s where they spend lots of their time and mental energy, so they should have plenty to talk about. Follow up with questions about why they like that particular subject and which subjects are not on their list.
- What’s your favorite animal? Kids have strong opinions about their favorite animals, whether they are real or imaginary. You can keep the conversation going with follow-up questions about favorite animals that are pets, live at the zoo, live in the ocean and more.
- What’s your favorite room in your house and why? To kids, home is their playground and safe space, so they will likely love to chat about it. You could ask more questions about their favorite toys, books and things to do outside.
- Which TV show or movie would you want to come true in real life? Whether they’d like their favorite cartoon animal to come alive or live in a castle like a movie princess, kids are sure to have lots of opinions on this one.
- What’s your favorite song? Get ready to listen to them sing it!