Tag Archives: Conversation Skills

How to Develop Stunning Conversational Skills and Skyrocket Your Popularity

If you’ve ever found yourself in a conversation, and felt that uncomfortable silence, you know that coming up with something interesting to say on the spur of the moment can be very difficult. When you combine two people feeling that same lack of conversational insight at the same time, and you have the recipe for conversation ending disaster.

One widely held misconception about holding interesting conversations is that you have to be interesting. While it helps if your job is a juggling trapeze artist who performs regularly for the Queen of England, it’s really not necessary to be anybody other than yourself. After you finish reading this short article, you’ll have the tools necessary to easily become the best conversationalist in the room.

The simple secret is that you don’t have to be interesting, rather you have to be interested. Interested in what the other person is saying, why they are saying it, how they came to their conclusions. It’s no big mystery that most people like to talk about themselves. That is the biggest stumbling block to conversation success.

Most people are so interested in speaking about themselves; they rarely give the other person a chance to speak. When you have two people competing for the limelight in a conversation, it can get pretty boring, pretty quickly.

The trick is to ask open-ended questions about what the other person is saying. An open-ended question is simply a question that doesn’t have a short one-word answer. When you begin to dig beneath the surface of what the other person is trying to say, you show that you are really interested in them, which will almost automatically make them interested in you. We generally like people that like us, and think that we are interesting.

Once you start digging beneath he surface of their conversation, start to look for similarities. Similarities in experiences, in values, in beliefs. Once you find a similarity, briefly tell a story or personal anecdote illustrating the similarity. This is much better than simply saying “me too!” That can come off as being insincere, as if you are some kind of salesperson trying to sell something.

Once you discover a similarity, and tell a brief story or anecdote, guide the conversation back to what they were talking about, so they don’t think you are stealing the conversation. This takes some practice, because it’s pretty easy to lose your place once you start talking about yourself.

But just like anything, the more you practice the better you will get, so don’t give up if you forget this at first. When you can engage somebody in a conversation, become interested in them and their stories, show (don’t tell) how you are similar in experience or beliefs with them, all while keeping the conversation focused on them, you will fast become a very popular person.

Extra bonus points if you can do this on a first date. That will create that feeling of “clicking” with someone, which is a great foundation for a good relationship.

Of course, if you are listening to them drone on and on, and you really can’t find anything they are saying interesting, and you can’t find any similar experiences, it’s best to cut your losses and find somebody else to talk to. Remember, not everybody was meant to be friend with everybody else.

When you use this strategy with people on a regular basis, you’ll develop deep, lasting friendships with people that you find interesting, and share many things in common with.

Now get off the Internet and go out and talk to somebody!

People Skills are Money Skills

The other day I was sitting in an airport waiting for a friend of mine. As soon as I realized that I’d forgotten to bring the scrap of paper on which I wrote down her flight number and arrival gate, I had a flash of insight. I used to do something a certain way, and then after that I did something else. But then I realized that if I could organize things a little bit differently, I would be able to actually do them both better, as one was a natural extension of the other. I was doing them in the opposite order, not because I thought they naturally went that way, but because I was doing the first thing because although I recognized that it was necessary, I also realized, on some level, that it was uncomfortable, and I wanted to get it out of the way.

I don’t know why I had this flash of insight while I was sitting there in the airport, but I took out my notebook and scribbled it down, hoping that I’d remember to look at my notebook later so I could reverse the order of the way I was doing things in hopes of doing them better.

I read this in a book by about developing creativity. Always keep as small notebook with you, that way when you have a flash of insight, you’ll be able to remember it later, and use it to help yourself get whatever it was you wanted to get.

After I wrote this down, I couldn’t help but notice all the people milling about in the airport, waiting for people. Some looked happy, some looked a little sad. You could tell which people were separating, and which were reuniting. It is always nice to see people get together and express an open appreciation for each other, and it always makes me a little sad when is I see people saying goodbye.

It reminded me of a book I was reading the other day, which was about job relocation. The author was talking about how when people change jobs, which in this day and age should be a given, considering that the average person has at least five careers in their life. When you change jobs, the skills that are the most important are not the technical skills that change with every job, but your people skills. Those that have the best people skills will always be in demand, and always make the most money. So the bottom line, according to this book I was reading was that you need to always be working on and improving your people skills.

One way to do this is to always make it a habit of talking to strangers. I think it is an exercise that was inspired by Ben Franklin, who said to “Always look for the virtue in others.” The exercise is to start an innocent conversation with a complete stranger, and try to covertly extract a virtue or two from them, and then share their own positive qualities with them. This will greatly increase your self-confidence and ability to interact with others to get what you want and to promote yourself.

And when my friend finally showed up, I was surprised that I had remembered the correct gate. Imagine that.

How to be a Jedi Master of Conversation

So the other day I was hanging out with this new set of friends I had met previously. I had run into them a few nights ago in a local bar, and we started talking about various things that you usually talk about in bars with strangers. The conversation steered it’s way around to baseball, and I turned out the had an extra ticket to a game last weekend. They offered, and I accepted. So there we were hanging out in the parking lot, having a few and cooking some bbq like most people do before a baseball game.

It’s interesting when you pay attention to the way a conversation flows. It’s a highly dynamic and interesting phenomenon. It’s like it has a mind of its own. One interesting thing you can do next time you find yourself in a conversation that is kind of wandering around aimlessly without any intended direction is to do some experimentation. I wouldn’t recommend doing this when the conversation is somewhat important, like if you happen to be testifying before congress or anything. In that case you might want have your game face on.

But if you think of the topic of conversation as a separate, living, breathing organism, it can be fun to experiment with it and see how many different ways you can stretch it. Sometimes it’s like when you chase a chicken. You can delude yourself into thinking that you are controlling it, but in reality, a chicken has very limited intelligence, and is operating on pure panic and fleeing in any direction possible, sometimes completely irrelevant of the noises you are making to communicate to the poor chicken that you really aren’t going to chop off its head and eat it.

Try this experiment: Next time you find yourself in the middle of a conversation of little global economic importance, choose a topic, completely at random, and as completely far removed from the current topic as possible. Then try and slowly steer the conversation towards your selected topic, but try and do it in such a way that the other people bring up the new items of the conversation. To do this you’ll have to introduce little intermediate transitional breadcrumbs and hopefully covertly help people to think of the connection on their own. The more you practice this, the sooner you’ll realize you can steer a conversation any way you want, including towards things to your immediate benefit. Which will pretty much make you a Jedi master.

How to Speak the Local Language for Powerful Success

I was hanging out in a coffee shop the other night. It was one of those coffee shops that is attached to a large bookstore. The large bookstore is inside of a large mall. So the area of the coffe shop kind of bleeds into the bookshop area, which in turn melts into the mall area. I happened to be sitting at a table near the back, facing outward, so I had a fairly good view of the bookstore, and coffee shop table area, and the area just out in front of the book shop inside the mall. As I was sitting there, watching people walk by and read their various magazines and drink their various coffee drinks and other things, I saw a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. I motioned for her to come and sit down, as she was alone and seemed to be wandering around aimlessly, as people like to do during their free time.

She had just come back from a trip to Europe. She had bought on of those multi-country rail passes, and had traveled through various countries. She spent lots of time telling me about the different food and culture she’d experienced, as well as some of the new words in various languages that she’d picked up. She said that people really reacted well to her when she spoke the local language. She also said that the words “Please” and “Thank you” were very powerful. She mentioned that a few times she ran across some tourist that seemed to have a condescending attitude, which didn’t get them very far. She even was able to secure a table in a restaurant that had been refused to two tourists just in front of her.

We started talking about how important it is to speak to others in their own language. It would seem that this would be obvious to most people, but apparently her experience says otherwise. Some people when they speak to others assume that everybody has same experience and frames of reference as they do. This can be extremely unhelpful, and the person listening has to work twice as hard. One to figure out exactly what frame of reference the person is coming from, and two to try and figure out exactly what the message is.

It reminded me of a lecture I saw on a memory expert. She was saying that everybody has a different “memory map” inside their brains, and we all operate from different memory maps. Even people that grew up in the same family in the same circumstances can have very different memory maps. The lecturer explained that one of the biggest failures of western style education is that it is assumed that every student that enters school has the same memory map, as they are all taught the same way. Teachers can become frustrated when they are trying to teach students that have vastly different maps than they do. I guess it’s not so bad when teaching something as straightforward as mathematics or hard science. Even then you have to be careful and make sure the person you are talking to is at least one the same level as you, and not higher or lower.

I’m sure you’ve had the experience of having an argument with somebody, and you were both arguing about two completely different things, for two completely different reasons. I can remember several heated engineering discussions I’ve had in the past with an engineering manager of mine. On the surface, it would seem that something as cut and dried as engineering would be simple to talk about. But when you add in two different egos, expectations, and experiences into the mix, and you suddenly find yourself in a heap of trouble.

But it doesn’t have to be like that. The biggest hurdle to overcome is getting over your need to be right. Getting over your need to get your opinion heard so that you can maybe get some recognition and ego gratification out of the deal. The paradox is that by focusing on imposing your opinion, you actually get less validation and ego gratification. By stepping back enough to make you sure you understand the other person enough to more effectively present your opinion, so that it is actually heard rather than argued with, you will be much more successful. And you actually might learn something.

Develop Powerful Listening Skills

Have you ever been talking to somebody and had a feeling that they just ‘got you?’ Like somehow you felt like this person really understood you, like this person was really concerned for your best interests? Like somehow this person was able to see who you really are? That made you feel pretty good, right? Of course it did. That was because this person, either on purpose or because they were simply a natural, was practicing great listening skills. How would you like to be that person, and make others feel really good whenever they are around you? Well, listening is easy if you know how to do it. Which you are about to. Ready?

Step One.  The most important part is to listen not only with your ears, but with your eyes, your mouth and your whole face. You want the other person to be able to see you respond to them as they speak. Professional speakers will gladly tell you how important feedback is.

Step Two. Make sure to face the speaker with an open posture, and to maintain good eye contact. You want to be looking into their eyes about eighty percent of the time. This lets them know that you find them interesting.

Step Three. As they are speaking, form a picture in your mind of what they are saying. This can help you to naturally get involved in the conversation.

Step Four.  If you find that they are voicing an opinion that you happen to disagree with, instead of thinking of arguments against it, try to find common ground, or at least try to see things from their point of view.

Step Five. Ask good questions. If you’ve read my article on open ended questions, you already know how to do this. If you haven’t, I recommend that you check it out. It can make the conversation flow and you can be the star of the party.

These quick techniques will not only immediately boost your charisma, but they will also give you great social confidence, because everyone loves somebody like you that knows how to listen.

Please be sure to check back often, as I will be updating this site frequently. And please feel free to share this with others, because everybody can benefit when you increase your skills, right?


How To Powerfully Charge Your Conversation With Fantastic Questions

There you are. Party. Bar. Coffee shop. The person who’s talking to you is animated, excited, eyes wide, hands blurred in rapid enthusiastic gestures. Why is he so excited? Because of the topic? Partly. Because of the envirnment, maybe. The real reason?


Not because you thought of some random question to ask a guy, but because you have easily learned one of the secret communication skills that few know about, and even fewer put into conscious practice. Powerfully engaging people who have been able to learn this skill realize how easily it can charge a conversation with that ‘high on life’ feeling. And one of the most fantastic things about this technique? Not only are you about to learn it, but because you are obviously clever enough, you will naturally put it into practice so that you can go out TODAY, and be the life of the party.

Are you ready to learn some easy fun questions to get to know someone? And don’t worry, you can use these on a first date, in a relationship dating situation, and even online dating will work. The simple technique is called ‘open ended follow up questioning.’ Although it sounds technical, it is easy to learn and put into practice.

First of all, what is an open ended question? It’s a question that requires a long answer, rather than a short one. Questions like:

Where are you from?

Where do you live?

Who’s your favorite movie star?

Are all ‘closed ended’ questions, becasue the answer is usually only one or two words, and doesn’t do much to keep the conversation going. What you need are questions that draw out longer answers that are likely to be filled with emotionally charged words.

For example, you are speaking with somebody, and they say “I like baseball.”  If you follow up with something like “who’s your favorite team,” or “who’s your favorite player,” that won’t do much.

Now, if you ask something like “Wow, that’s cool. What do you like about watching a game?” The answer is likely to be longer, and more interesting. For example, if the answer sounds something like “well, I really like hanging with my friends, eating peanuts, and talking about stuff while we watch the game,” then there is a whole bunch of stuff you can follow up on with more open ended questions. Pay attention to how the words are said as well, and follow up on the ones that seems to make him or her happy when they say it. Be sure to nod a lot and smile when they do.

Open ended questions usually begin with

What do you like about….

What is your favorite part about….

How do you like…

How do you feel when you…

So that’s it. Of course, when you practice this in real life, you’ll naturally get better and better. It was Dale Carnegie who discovered that when you use this technique, people will be powerfully drawn to you as they learn what a fantastic conversationalist you are. And the cool thing is, the more you put this into practice, the more you’ll realize how incredibly interesting people can be.