How To Have Better Conversations

What would happen if you weren’t afraid of an awkward silence?

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Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

Without even knowing you, I can easily assume that you want to increase your conversational ability.

Perhaps you’re socially awkward and never know what to say. Within moments of the other person responding, your mind goes into overdrive, trying to find a conversation topic to avoid an awkward silence.

Or maybe you’re great at small talk but are terrible when it comes to more meaningful conversations. Approaching people and having a light chat is easy for you, but anything that requires depth instantaneously becomes challenging.

The truth is that we’re all wondering through this game called life, striving to improve and become the best version of ourselves.

But no matter what your current situation is, I can guarantee it’s possible to improve and increase your confidence to have better conversations. Bill Phillips said it best:

How beautiful is that? I couldn’t have said it any better myself.

Regular conversations are something that I always used to find difficult. Although I was fine talking with friends, I was still afraid of being judged because I’d always run out of things to say.

Each conversation made me increasingly nervous as I desperately struggled to seem like an exciting person. But no matter how hard I tried, anxiety always got the best of me, and I’d create a random excuse to go and do something else to avoid embarrassment.

Looking back, I guess that’s why I didn’t have many friends during childhood. But I knew that something had to change.

So during my spare time after school, I’d come home and watch hours of YouTube videos explaining how to be more confident. Making sure to lock my bedroom door, I’d practice walking with a confident stride, hand gestures, and other things I saw from the videos.

Once I practiced acting confident, I then stayed up until midnight researching conversation starters, interesting questions to ask, and how to respond during a conversation. Although some of these methods may sound extreme, they each made a massive difference in allowing me to overcome a fear of talking to others.

Below are a collection of lessons I learned from becoming more confident during a conversation. Each one helped me to avoid the awkward silence, strengthen my relationships, and have meaningful discussions that I once considered impossible. I hope they do the same for you, too.

Genuinely Listen To What The Other Person Is Saying.

Do you want to know why your conversations aren’t great? The answer lies in the fact that you’re not listening.

Sure, you may be hearing what the other person is saying. But more often than not, their words go in one ear and come straight out of the other.

Most people I’ve met call themselves “amazing listeners,” yet immediately jump at the opportunity to talk to someone about their own life.

Before you judge me, call me wrong, or quit reading in a sudden moment of rage, take a moment to think about the last few conversations you had. What did you talk about?

If you’re anything like the average American, research shows that you spend between 60–80% of conversations talking about yourself. But none of us want to admit that, do we?

So instead of continually talking about our own life in the hope that somebody cares, a better solution is to listen to other people. Because when we take an interest in others, it’s natural for them to reciprocate.

During every conversation, ask yourself: “How can I show that I genuinely care about what the other person is saying?”

That’s the first step. Because when you’re able to listen to other people, it becomes much easier to generate a meaningful connection. Zeno said it best: “We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we say.”

Respond To Questions In More Detail.

Think about how you feel when people are incredibly blunt during a conversation.

Maybe you find it challenging to maintain the conversation because they’re not giving much detail for you to ask further questions about. Or perhaps it’s just annoying because you want to get to know someone, but they’re not putting in any effort.

It sucks.

The same mindset applies to other people when you’re the one being blunt. Although you may not “feel like talking,” it’s important to remember that every word & action has a direct impact on the relationship.

In short, being blunt won’t strengthen the connection between you & somebody else. So the best solution is to become emotionally vulnerable and go into detail about your opinions on different topics.

For the longest time, going into detail during conversations was something I genuinely struggled with. After being bullied throughout my childhood, I was always afraid of being judged for what I said.

But after practicing how I’d respond to topics such as my definition of happiness, I began to develop a natural confidence in talking with other people.

Slowly but surely, the strategy of becoming emotionally vulnerable by responding in great detail resulted in me building incredible friendships.

So if you want to have more in-depth conversations, you need to express your opinion so that you can create great relationships with everyone you speak to. As Bob Marley once so beautifully said:

Start by improving your body language and maintaining eye contact so you can show interest in the conversation.

Start by listening to what the other person is saying, and using empathy to generate a meaningful response.

You can improve your relationships, have better conversations, and live the life you know you’re capable of.

Just remember one thing: it starts with you.

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