How to Become a Better Conversationalist (The Ultimate Guide + Image Quotes)

Art of Conversing: Do You Meet These 10 Rules of a Great Conversationalist? is Celestine's original full-length article.

Are you a good communicator? What characteristics distinguishes a good conversationalist?

Being a good conversationalist is important in all situations, whether business, social, or dating. I've met a lot of people over the years in a variety of settings. My seven-month world trip in Europe and the United States in 2011 in particular propelled me into hundreds of social circles all over the world. As a business owner and self-starter, networking events have long been a part of my routine. My recent dating immersion has resulted in more dates in one month than I had in the previous six months.

Given that conversing skills are a must-have in today's world, I thought it would be appropriate to write a piece on how to be a great conversationalist, as I had not previously written about communication.

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While I believe I still have a lot to learn about communication, I've been told by friends and acquaintances alike that I'm a great person to talk to and relate to. People frequently tell me that they can't help but share things with me that they never share with others. I also have a habit of engaging in lengthy conversations that could go on indefinitely if it weren't for prior commitments that I and/or the other person must attend to.

I don't believe there are any “tricks” or shady techniques that must be used to be a great conversationalist. The following are ten timeless rules that I apply to all of my conversations:

Show genuine interest in the person. Who is this individual? What is he/she thinking? What does he/she like to do? What inspires him/her in life? These are the questions I ask every person I meet. People are at the heart of my life purpose (to help others grow), so my genuine interest in them, from who they are to what they do, comes naturally. A genuine interest, rather than an artificial one, is required to make a conversation fly. If you're not interested in the other person, why are you talking to him/her in the first place? Continue on to someone with whom you really want to speak. Life is too short to waste it doing things you don't enjoy.

Concentrate on the positives. Choose topics that are upbeat. That is, rather than discussing past grievances, focus on future objectives. Rather than discussing the coffee that spilled on your table this morning, discuss the movie you plan to watch later that evening. It is acceptable to discuss “negative” topics (read: topics that elicit negative emotions) on occasion, but only if the other party agrees and there is a specific purpose for doing so (e.g., to get to know the other person better or to bond with the person). Principle #4 of the 10 Timeless Principles for Lasting Happiness teaches you how to focus on the positives rather than the negatives in any situation.

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Instead of debating, converse (or argue). A conversation should be a forum for people to express themselves, not a battleground where one's stance is pitted against another's. Be prepared to chat, discuss, and trash ideas, but do so in a friendly manner. There is no need for a conclusion or agreement point in every discussion; if a convergence must be met with everything that is proposed, the conversation would be extremely draining. Allow for things to be left open-ended if a consensus cannot be reached.

Don't impose, criticize, or judge; instead, show respect. Consider other people's points of view. Respect other people's space—don't intrude on someone's privacy unless you have a common bond. Don't criticize or judge other people's personal choices. Everyone has the right to be himself/herself, and you have the right to be yourself.

Put the person in the best light possible. Always look for ways to make the person appear better. Credit should be given where credit is due. Recognize and reward talent when you see it. Compliments should be used sparingly. Allow the individual to shine in his or her own light.

Accept differences while focusing on commonalities. Everyone is unique. At the same time, there are always similarities between people. Accept and appreciate the differences. They are what distinguishes each of us. If there are ideas that clash, agree to disagree. Look for similarities between you and the other person as you converse. Once you've discovered a common thread, expand on it. Use that as a springboard for further discussions, which will reveal more about both of you. Continue to build on the new commonalities that are revealed.

Be honest with yourself. Your true personality is your most valuable asset. Accept it and let it shine. Don't try to hide it. It will be very boring if all you do during a conversation is mimic the other person's words; there will be nothing to discuss. Prepare to express your true feelings and opinions (but not in a combative manner—see #3). Be proud of what you stand for and be willing to show others the real you. Discovering Your Inner Self

Sharing is split 50/50. A great conversation, in my opinion, should consist of equal sharing by both parties. Depending on the circumstances, it may be 40-60 or 60-40, but in general, both parties should have equal opportunities to share and contribute to the conversation. This means that if you've been talking for a while, you should be sensitive enough to ask questions of the other party. (See also #9.) It also implies that if the other party has been sharing for the most part, you should take the initiative to share more about yourself. Just because someone doesn't ask doesn't mean you can't share; sometimes people don't ask questions because it's not in their nature to do so.

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Pose pertinent questions. Questions elicit responses. The questions you ask will influence the direction of the conversation. Ask meaningful questions in order to have a meaningful conversation with the other person. Questions such as “What drives you in life?” “What are your goals for the next year?” and “What inspired you to make this change?” should be prioritized over “What did you do yesterday?” and “What are you going to do later?” Here are some questions for your consideration: 101 Crucial Self-Assessment Questions Some people may not be ready to confront conscious questions, and that is perfectly fine. Begin by asking simple, trivial, everyday questions to establish rapport. Then, when you believe the person is ready to share, get to know them better by asking deeper, more revealing questions.

You have to give and take. During conversations, people can say some strange things. A critical remark here and there, a distasteful remark, and a bad joke, for example. Don't judge them for their comments; instead, consider them Freudian slips. Allow them the benefit of the doubt (unless clearly proven otherwise). I'm aware that I occasionally make oddball comments that leave me wondering why I said them in the first place. Usually, I just laugh or shrug it off; it makes for entertaining conversation.

What qualities do you think make a good conversationalist? How can you use these ten suggestions to become a better conversationalist?

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