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Becoming a Great Conversationalist

Don’t you love having a chat with someone who leaves a lasting impression on you? You know, the kind of convo that makes you think, “Wow, I thoroughly enjoyed talking with that person.” Well, I’m willing to bet that you overlooked the reoccurring theme in these chats:

Think back to your last great conversation. Now ask yourself, who did most of the talking? Contrary to what you may remember, it’s most likely YOU who talked the most. Not them.

In general, a great conversationalist is usually not the dominant talker in the group. But rather it is the person who asks the questions, listens and responds intelligently to the topic.

They control the direction of the conversation with their questions. All while accurately and intelligently chiming in only when the chat warrants. Put in other words, they know when to add their two cents and when to keep quiet.

And this method unequivocally works because anyone with a pulse loves to talk about themselves and the stuff they are passionate about.

Trying This At Home

Caveat: This relatively simple concept is easy in theory. But come time to apply this questioning technique, it no longer seems like child play. Trust me. Asking open-ended-questions on something that may not be of any interest to you is hard. Oftentimes, it may be downright boring listening to another’s interests. However, a little initial intrigue into people’s passions is essential to becoming a great conversationalist. And if you truly begin to feel the other side’s enthusiasm, the topic will quickly become rather interesting.

For Instance:

I once had a 20-minute chat with a guy I just met at a networking event… the conversation was mostly about his new precious cell phone. Being a tech geek myself, I had already seen the phone in use and knew a decent amount about it. So it would have been easy to dismiss a conversation about the phone. But I could tell he was extremely interested in his new toy. Therefore, I used my knowledge of the product to ask intelligent questions with more precise follow-up questions. And quickly the conversation turned into a pretty good techie-bonding session. (However, it’s important to point out I never once flattered him.)

Not surprisingly, I left that talk with a greater appreciation for the features of that phone. But more importantly, I gained a new acquaintance. And to this day, he still talks to others about how they must meet me.

In short, I’ve gotten numerous leads from the glowing referrals of a person I spent about 25 seconds (of that 20 minute chat) telling him I did marketing consulting. And more remarkable still, this isn’t a rare occurrence. As anyone who follows these principles could tell you; this stuff – without fail – works!

Quick Tips on Becoming A Great Conversationalist:

  • Ask open-ended-questions about the passions and interests of the other person.
  • Listen intently and take mental notes of what has been said.
  • Become generally interested in what the other person has to say.
  • While the urge may be strong to talk about yourself, stay focused on them.
  • Eye contact is key. But too much will weird them out.
  • A genuine smile can soften up anyone, even the most curmudgeonly.
  • Body language will subconsciously display your true level of interest in the current topic. e.g. crossed arms vs. at your side, leaning back vs. forward, etc.
  • Remember: Everyone enjoys a compliment but no one likes flattery.
  • End the conversation on a good note to ensure a great lasting memory.

To Summarize

In order to become a great conversationalist, you must first become a great listener as well as a great questioner. The actual conversing part is just a natural side effect of these two abilities.

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