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How to Become a Good Conversationalist

Margaret Minnicks has been an online writer for many years. She writes articles that are interesting to her readers.


A conversation is defined as a talk between two or more people where news, information, and ideas are exchanged. The keyword in this definition is "exchanged." Unless there is an exchange of information, there is no conversation because no one can have a conversation with himself.

Unfortunately, every speaker in a group is not necessarily a good conversationalist. Others find this out within a few minutes hearing someone speak. It is a delight to talk with someone who has good communication skills. On the other hand, it is boring and a chore trying to talk to someone with poor communication skills.

There are ways to identify the people who have good communication skills. Look through the following principles to see if you are a good conversationalist. If not, make a plan to correct the wrong things you are doing.

1. Listen

Good conversationalists listen more than they talk. Unfortunately, some people think the opposite. They believe they are good conversationalists just because they talk a lot and do not listen to anybody else. They fail to realize that the most important part of a conversation is not talking. It is listening.

According to Celeste Hardlee, host of Georgia Public Broadcasting's On Second Thought, people want to talk more than they want to listen. She believes people talk more than they listen because they want to be the center of attention while focusing on what they have to say instead of wanting to hear responses from others.

Remember that a good conversationalist is not the one who does most or all of the talking in a group.

2. Don't Become the Subject

Good conversationalists don't become the subject of the conversation by always sharing their experiences about every subject that comes up. In fact, a bad conversationalist highjacks every subject by interjecting personal experiences.

Instead of being a good conversationalist, a person is seen as a showoff. No matter what topic comes up, he announces he has seen it, done it better, or knows more about it than anyone else.

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3. Speak What You Know

You can become a much better conversationalist if you knew something about what is going on in the world. You should read and watch television to be informed about a variety of subjects people are interested in discussing.

Good conversationalists don't chime in about things they don't know. Many people try to come across knowing something about every topic that comes up in a conversation. Instead of trying to add to the conversation, just listen and learn.


4. Avoid Verbal Clutter

Sometimes in conversations, the speaker wastes valuable time trying to remember a specific day of the week or the date when something happened.

We have all been in conversations where the speaker struggles to remember a date or name. Small bits of information add verbal clutter. Good conversationalists don’t burden the subject with years, names, dates, and tiny details. The listener doesn’t care if something happened on a Monday or Tuesday at 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. unless that information adds to the story. Verbal clutter with small bits of information like that do not add to the story and can be left out.

Good conversationalists don’t burden listeners with years, names, dates, and tiny details that don't add to or enhance the story. So, leave out those small details that you can't remember anyway.

5. Ask for Clarification

There is nothing wrong with asking for clarification if you are confused about something someone in the group says. If you are asked to clarify something, welcome the chance to explain your point in a different way. It shows that the person is interested enough in what you are saying to understand clearly what you are saying.

6. Look for Cues

Good conversationalists listen with their ears and watch with their eyes. They can tell if others are bored or interested in what is being said by observing their body language. This helps the speaker to improve the conversation and know when to stop speaking, says Parker Ellen, professor of management and organizational development at Northeastern University.


How To Become a Good Conversationalist

Many good conversationalists treat every conversation like a tennis game. Anne Green, president and CEO of CooperKatz & Company, a communications and media-training firm, says a conversation should be viewed as a game of verbal tennis. It requires a give and take like keeping a tennis ball in the air at all times.

Good conversationalists keep the dialogue going by hitting the ball back and forth. They respond by answering direct questions.

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