How To Have Flowing Conversations

As it turns out, being socially savvy isn’t exactly rocket science. We’ve compiled all of the tips and advice to help you become a sparkling conversationalist and, ultimately, improve your people skills.

by Rob Eades / 2021-08-05

Do you live in eternal fear of an awkward silence? Does the idea of meeting new people (especially after spending a year and a half at home - thanks, COVID-19) send shivers down your spine? Here are small talk and conversation tips from the best dinner guests out there, put together in one easy place

Conversation Skills: How To Have A Conversation with Virtually Anyone - Alex Lyon

On Uptime

Alex Lyon is here to teach you how to have conversations that are even longer than the title of this book. 

1. A flowing conversation is a fun conversation

When in a group setting, finding something that you all want to talk about can immediately energize the interaction. 

It’s vital that everyone is involved and no one person is monopolizing the conversation. After all, good conversations are a two-way street. 

2. Know what questions to ask

Good questions make for good conversation. But what makes a good question? 

One tip that Lyon points out is that for conversation to flow, you shouldn’t ask close-ended questions with a finite answer. Make sure your questions are open-ended and allow people to elaborate on their thoughts. 

3. Follow-up questions are key

As you’re talking with somebody, make sure to note their non-verbal cues as much as their verbal ones. 

Keep an eye on what questions seem to get them excited and then follow up on them. People will feel more valued and respected if you ask follow up questions that clearly show you are interested and listening.

Perfect Your Conversation Skills - Patrick King

On Uptime

Next up, we have Patrick King swooping in to polish up and perfect your verbal lingo.

1. The patterns of conversation

At their core, conversations have a simple pattern: One person asks something, another person answers, and vice versa. 

But successful conversation needs to continue in cycles and be kept moving. We can do this by predicting responses, asking questions that may interest the other person, or give answers that deepen the conversation. 

2. Practical actions can improve your skills

Good conversation isn’t just about confidence and being brave. It’s about being able to balance emotion with practical information. 

You want your conversation to be interesting and engaging whilst also holding onto the human element. 

King recommends two practical actions when diving into a conversation: 1) Always have something else to say, and 2), Dive deep into conversation.

Shallow conversations can die quickly, so by gradually increasing the depth, you can really grab your partners attention. 

3. Take note of the little things

Ever been told it’s not what you said, but the way you said it? That applies to conversations too. 

People are more likely to notice your conscious efforts. So if you’re letting out small signals that you’re trying to keep the conversation alive, or that you’re not really interested in what they’re saying - people may become disinterested or offended. 

Talking to Strangers - Malcolm Gladwell

On Uptime

Isn’t it funny? You’ve been taught your whole childhood not to talk to strangers and now Malcolm Gladwell is teaching you how to do it properly. 

1. You’re not good at reading people

We all know someone who says they’re excellent at reading people’s thoughts or emotions. Malcolm Gladwell can now confirm what you secretly always knew: they’re not. 

Various studies have shown this, but we still believe that we’re the outlier. So be sure to take the time to listen to someone instead of trying to figure them out with minimal information. 

First impressions are almost always wrong. Be open to changing your opinion of someone the more that you get to know them.

2. You’re also not good at knowing when another person is lying

Our default is to believe that people are telling the truth. Even naturally suspicious people are hardwired to assume people are honest until we find enough evidence that proves they are not. 

Emotions are not expressed in the same way by everyone. So what could be a trigger of dishonesty in one person, won’t be a trigger in the next. This leads us nicely onto the final point:

3. There is no uniform way in which people express themselves

When you’re watching TV, you can always figure out peoples emotions. Shock is shown by wide eyes, anger is a furrowed brow and a narrow eye - their thoughts are painted on their faces. 

But that’s not how the real world works. Gladwell highlights a study where scientists tried to surprise participants, then asked them what they thought they looked like. 

Although most people thought they would look surprised, only 5% had the ‘typical’ wide-eyed look. 

How To Talk To Anyone - Leil Lowndes

On Uptime

Ever wished that you could walk into a room and instantly have a flowing conversation with the first person you met? Leil Lowndes is here to show you how. 

1. First impressions are important

The worst part of any interaction is the first 10 seconds. This is where most conversations live or die. 

But how do you introduce yourself to a stranger? Leil Lowndes notes that the best way is either through an acquaintance or with a confident opening line. Just whatever you do, don’t just awkwardly walk up to someone you don’t know without anything to say. 

2. Be a copycat 

Do you know the saying that mimicry is the highest form of flattery? Well Lowndes confirms that it’s true - copying certain aspects of the person you’re speaking to can work wonders. 

People will subconsciously feel comfortable around you if you share similar movements and gestures. 

3. Be specific with your praise

Everyone loves a compliment. Even people who say they really hate getting compliments may well enjoy them on a subconscious level. But that doesn’t mean you should run around throwing out praise left right and centre. 

Compliments should be subtle, sparse and specific. The best way is to find something you admire about someone, state it is as a fact, then ask their advice on how you can do the same.

Summary

There’s no such thing as the perfect conversationalist. Whether you are more on the introverted side or consider yourself the proud owner of a silver tongue, we can always be better. 

So whether you’re out at a bar with friends, or surrounded by work colleagues at a conference - be brave, be curious, and genuinely listen and you can’t go too far wrong. 

If any of these tongue-wagging experts piqued your interest, then be sure to read the full version on the Uptime app.


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