Striking up conversation with someone can be easy, but getting past the typical “small talk” can lead to dead ends. So, where do you go from there? Being a good conversationalist is a skill acquired only over time. It takes practice to truly navigate even the simplest of conversations.
Journalists are usually good at conversation because of the regular interviewing of sources that their job requires. But for the rest of us, it can be a bit frightening. According to an article from Fast Company, there are six key skills that good interviewers use that lead to good conversation in any professional or personal setting.
To start, preparing notes on the person helps gauge who they are and what they’re all about. Learning about a person before meeting them allows you to add an element of comfort when they enter the room and the questions you ask. But don’t keep the key points in front of you when meeting, set them aside to mimic a spontaneous conversation.
With that, mimicking body language, energy and tone of voice also add to the comfort of an exchange or any new relationship. People feel more comfortable when you seem to be “like” them in any situation. It allows them to relax and eases the tensions of the new interaction. The subject will tend to open up about deeper topics, creating a more dynamic interaction.
According to the article, the most difficult part of a conversation is listening. What might seem like the most basic skill is really the most difficult. If you can’t learn to really listen to what the person is revealing about themselves, then the conversation is likely to be less effective. Usually when someone answers a question, more questions can be built upon their responses. This can lead to deeper relationships in everyone’s life, but most people can’t maintain the focus needed to hold a successful conversation without the annoying interruptions.
One of the biggest fears is the awkward silence, but as any great interviewer knows, it’s the key to added information. If someone is holding anything back, with just a few seconds of silence (and a stare) they will continue to talk, in order to block the dreaded lack of noise in the room; especially if this in an interview-like situation.
The final recommendations in refining your interview and conversation skills are to be more curious and let go of your ego. By paying attention to details in each conversation, your curious side can engage and delve deeper turning a good conversation into a great one.
Beyond these tips, what do you think is the most important part of a conversation? Do you agree that these are the essential points to a conversation? Have you had any experience with an interviewer that made you feel comfortable or uncomfortable?