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Everyone Can Be A Great Conversationalist (3 min read)

Few of us actually consciously choose our communication style. This was often learnt in childhood. Usually we quickly adopt a style of communication that accommodates our comfort level. The good news is: Even if you have the conversational skills of someone raised by wolves, you can learn to be an engaging conversationalist. Latest research in neuroscience show that we can in fact increase our Conversational Intelligence® (C-IQ), re-wire ourselves to communicate more precisely and create a conversational space for a more enjoyable and mindful dialogue with anyone. Here we will explore a few practical ways to help you become the greatest conversationalist you've always wanted to be!

Learn to Connect and Captivate Conversations Through Trust Building Actions

1. Be an exceptional listener. This is a no-brainer but you'd be surprised how many people have not really done this! Challenge yourself to speak only 30% of time and listen the rest of the conversation. Only when you master your listening, you understand the ins-and-outs of each conversation. Pay full attention to the other person and the conversation to show that you care.

  • Look at the other person. You’re not paying attention if your eyes are glued on your phone or staring into space.

  • Show interest in what is being said. Some people love to talk about themselves. Remember what was said and connect with them on these points when it's your turn to talk.

  • Ask relevant questions. If you ask interesting questions, you might not have to speak much at all. Focus on open-ended questions. If you ask someone whether they like the color violet, the answer will likely be yes or no (unless you are lucky enough to run into a colour technician!) But ask them about their favorite vacation, and they’ll talk all night.

  • According to Judith E. Glaser, the founder of C-IQ who had worked with many Fortune 500 companies clients, to have a productive conversation, listening to connect works way better than listening to understand because this connection changes our neuro-chemistry. When you are perceived as having the best interest of the other person at heart, you build rapport, shows up as someone who values this conversation and the other is more likely to engage with further conversations with you.

2. Respect what is said. There is no need to agree or disagree with everything being said. However, being judgmental or critical about what was said would often trigger an “Amygdala Hijack” in the speaker. Think of a time when you did not feel any emotional reaction when you shared with someone something excites you but met with a critical comment like “That's a waste of time” or “It's the last thing I'd do”. Was it hard? This is because Amygdala is the part of the brain that handles emotions. When someone feels threaten by the other during a conversation, a shut down in the Amygdala is triggered, causing the person to also shut down from a rational discussion. Expect to receive a lot of resistance or the same judgmental treatment in return. By using the conversation as an opportunity to share and learn, your message will be better received when the other feels like you are a friend and not a foe.

3. “Double-Click” to clarify their views and ask for their opinion. You may think you understood what was being said but so often words mean very different things to different people depending on their cultures, where they were raised and the kind of education and experienced they received. Double-clicking with clarifying questions is like opening computer folders with your mouse to drill down into details. Nothing is more meaningful to a person than the request for their views and opinion. It says that you trust them and value their input.

4. Be current. Stay on top of the latest news and trends. Spark a good conversation by asking questions from a space of curiosity: Have you seen the most popular movie recently? What did you think about it? Do you have an opinion on global warming?

5. Practice with the most uncomfortable looking person in social gatherings. There is always some people looking uncomfortable and standing aside by themselves at gatherings. Approach them with a warm sincere smile and introduce yourself. They may or may not appreciate the chance to be part of the action but you'd have created an opportunity to warm up and practice your conversational skills in a non-threatening situation.

6. Simply relax to let it flow. No one expects or wants you to be like a talk-show host. Just be yourself and give your best effort. If you find yourself getting nervous, ask an open-ended question and use the time to regain your composure.

7. Follow a pattern. Memorize and follow a practiced set of steps to diversify your topics.

  • Introduce yourself or say “hi” in your unique way and comment on something they’re wearing or holding. This could be their cool watch, or the lovely color of their shirt. If you can feel that this is something they are proud of, ask a couple more questions on that particular object.

  • Next, make a comment about something, or someone, interesting in the room. Maybe the hummus dip is the best you’ve ever tasted, or the man in the green shirt looks just like the president.

  • Ask about their profession. Follow up with some additional questions. What about their job do they like the most? How long have they been working there? Keep peeling the onion.

  • Inquire about their background, education, hobbies, how they spend their free time. Find common ground and allow the conversation to continue naturally.

  • Share something on each of the topic about yourself. Remember it's a two-way conversation NOT an interrogation!

8. Give genuine compliments. For a compliment to be effective, it must be sincere. Even the least egocentric of us love to receive a heart-felt compliment. Try to give one honest compliment per conversation. You might even get a few thrown your way in return.

So, are you ready to rock your conversations wherever you go? What are some of your tested and proven ways to have incredible conversations?

Please share in your comment below or Email me at nikitta@centricquest.com your thoughts. I would love to hear from you!

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