Aside from listening and paying attention to what the other person is saying, another way to show them that you are paying attention is by using body language.
Keep eye contact, but don’t forget to blink. Nod when you agree with something. Smile when they mention something you like. Look serious when you are talking about serious stuff, and relax your face and body if the conversation is casual.
Use hand gestures in moderation, and mind your physical distance from each other. Keep a respectful distance of roughly an arm’s length if you’re with a new acquaintance.
On the flip side, pay attention to their body language as well. If they don’t look you in the eye, nod, or smile, it might be time to tell them thanks for their time and then leave them alone. If they react enthusiastically to one topic, that’s a sure sign you can talk some more.
Avoid Uncomfortable Topics and Talking Too Much
Resist the temptation to talk about topics that tend to generate very strong negative reactions or no reactions at all. Topics like politics are usually best reserved for classroom discussions or with people you’re already very familiar with since arguments can be more easily de-escalated.
Also, avoid discussions that are too personal like health issues or money matters. Skip talking about romantic partners or things you don’t like. Overly mundane things like what time you woke up and what you ate for breakfast might not be interesting to the other person so just keep those in your back pocket for another time.
We hope you were able to pick up a few pointers here and there and that you’ll be trying them out soon. It’s totally fine if you forget some things along the way. You can always come back to this later for a refresher.
Remember that nobody was born an expert conversationalist. Even the most sociable adults will have a few false starts and awkward conversations with people. After all, people are unique and you just have to find the people you “click” with. But finding other people won’t happen unless you go out and have conversations.
It’s usually a good idea to seek out the people you have a lot in common with. This usually gives the assurance that you’ll have a lot to talk about. But it’s also never a bad idea to expand your horizons and be curious about people who seem different from you. After all, we can learn more from our differences than our similarities.
If you’re just starting out, be patient with yourself and realize that not all interactions will leave you with feel-good fuzzy feelings. It’s absolutely okay to have some awkwardness now and then as you learn what works for you and what doesn’t. Like all skills, being an excellent conversationalist only happens with time and practice so make it a point to start conversations with different people every now and then!