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14 Tricks To Better Conversations

14 Tricks To Better Conversations

Do you think there may be room for improvement in your conversational skills? Perhaps you could use some new conversation starters or something to fill those awkward silences with? Here, chatting is made easy with Jonathan Roseland of Limitless Mindset’s 14 conversation tips:

Being a great conversationalist is a combination of mindset and methods. Luckily though, you can fake it till you make it. Here I will cover how you can ‘steal’ the conversation while appearing magnanimous, a sweet body language trick, applying economics concepts to increase the attention people show you and my favourite ‘pick up line’ to starting a conversation.

Start Conversations with a Question

You want to begin your conversation with a bang (first impressions matter!) so if possible start with an open ended question that is relevant to the environment that will engage your new friends.

The best ‘pick up line’ to begin an interesting conversation

Line: Pardon me. Do you mind if I get your opinion on something…?
Follow this up with an engaging question, here’s a few I like:

• Can you recommend any unique cocktails here?
• Do you know this town well? Can you recommend a restaurant/bar, etc?
• Where did you buy that clothing item/accessory/cell phone?
• What do you think of this event?

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Applying Relational Economics to Conversation

This is a very important concept to grasp so please pay attention. Imagine that your relationship is like a bank, you can make emotional withdrawals and emotional deposits to this bank. If the balance gets too low, then the relationship is over or becomes very unpleasant. This applies to any relationship, be it your mom or the person you just met at the bar. Here’s some examples in a conversational context.

Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 22.47.48.png

    A brand new conversation is starting basically at very close to a zero balance, if you make too many withdrawals you’re done!

    Conversational-Relational Supply and Demand Arbitrage

    Continuing the metaphor of our relationships being a bank, we want to practice a little supply and demand arbitrage to make people more interested in us. Here’s how this is done: make a large emotional deposit. Then make a withdrawal, if possible use humor. What you are doing is giving them an emotional high associated with you and then taking it away. True to human form we want what’s been taken away from us even more. Here’s an example of how this could be done.

    Jonathan: Chris I’m really impressed with how you’ve been able to take something that you are passionate about and make a living helping people. What was it that inspired you to first try this?

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    Chris: Thanks Jonathan! What inspired me was…
    Jonathan: You are going about your marketing all wrong. You aren’t going to meet your goals if you keep doing things that way. I have marketing firm and I’ve produced some really spectacular results for clients in similar businesses to yours. I think I have some ideas that could help.

    Don’t go to overboard with this method though! Too much of an emotional rollercoaster will not make for good relationships.

    Body Language Mirroring

    This is the practice of copying the gestures and posture of the person you are chatting with. Are their legs crossed? Cross yours. Are their hands on the table? Put your hands on the table. Fairly simple. Timing is the key to maximizing the effectiveness of this technique. Wait till they mention:

    • Something that you find interesting
    • Something that they think you will find interesting
    • Something they are proud of

    Then mirror them. This subconsciously communicates that you empathize with the way they feel about whatever topic. A little while later break the mirroring, on a subconscious level they will wonder if they said something wrong and it will increase their interest level in you. Then mirror them again at a high point in the conversation.

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    How to Talk about Yourself and NOT be Boring

    You may be an absolutely fascinating person but the majority of people just don’t want to hear you talking about yourself. As you can imagine as a continuation of the economics metaphor, if you make a large emotional deposit first they will pay a whole lot more attention and be more interested in what you have to say about yourself. Alternate between making emotional deposits but keep talking how interesting you are and what you do.

    Practice Topic Depth Escalation

    It’s well said that small minds talk about people, moderate minds talk about events and great minds talk about ideas. It’s very rare that you can begin a conversation by diving into deep conceptual territory. So you want to start with small talk and humorous banter, then ask for people’s opinions on an event that occurred recently, then transition into talking about ideas surrounding the event. Example:

    Conversation Intro: Hey how has your day been?
    Event: Are you and Tracy doing anything special for valentine’s day?
    Idea: I saw this blog on the internet recently about the how our modern day concept of love is completely skewed from the traditional definition of love which is that of ongoing acts of sacrifice to something great than oneself.

    If you want to do a controversial issue idea, you can always ask “How would you respond to people who say…?” This way, you haven’t directly challenged someone but you have introduced another element into the conversation.

    Ask them to be Interesting

    Pretty much everyone is interesting in their own way and they probably don’t get to share it nearly as much as they would like to. So give them the opportunity and they will think the world of you. Here’s the simple line I like to use: So tell me something interesting about yourself, Chris?
    This is a great line that makes you seem charismatic as well as lets you know what they find interesting, which will surely make for good conversation.

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    How to ask people what they do

    You will come across as more interesting if you ask the question this way.
    So how do you spend your time when you aren’t __________________?
    The blank should be something relevant to context, environment or something that you know about them. Examples:
    So how do you spend your time when you aren’t writing fascinating blog posts?
    So how do you spend your time when you aren’t on Facebook?
    So how do you spend your time when you aren’t hanging out with beautiful women?
    So how do you spend your time when you aren’t at the gym?

    Demonstrate Your Listening Skills

    If you’re going to focus one thing to make you a better conversationalist, I would say to improve your listening skills. This will be another blog subject all together. When they are talking about a subject they find interesting, follow up with this question:
    “That’s interesting … say more about that…”
    Also ask probing questions such as:
    So what influenced you to make that decision?

    Speaking Pace

    In general, fast paced speech is a sign of nervousness and slow paced speech is a sign of confidence. So most of the time I go with a slower pace but if I’m talking with someone who has a noticeably fast pace, then I will mirror them and go fast.

    Magnanimous Conversation Stealing

    This has probably happened to you before: you are discussing something, someone else jumps in and makes the topic you are discussing all about them. This is called conversation stealing and it’s annoying, if you do it wrong. The correct way to do it is to make an emotional deposit before the steal and then make an emotional deposit at the end of the steal. That way you are keeping the attention high throughout and you don’t look like a jerk for stealing the conversation. Example:
    Chris: So my kid is just doing awesome at football practice.
    Me: That’s great. I definitely know where he gets his work ethic from! My kid has just got his black belt in Karate and is traveling to Korea for a student exchange program. Since you’ve traveled abroad extensively in Asia, can you give me some suggestions to give to him?
    As you can see here, I made an emotional deposit first by complimenting Chris and his kid, I stole the conversation and then I linked it right back to him and made another emotional deposit.

    Compliment Strategically

    Compliments are very powerful tool when used correctly, the right way is to compliment people on the things they are proud of. For example:
    • if a person is in great shape and obviously spends a lot of time in the gym, compliment them on their work ethic and commitment to taking care of themselves.
    • If someone is particularly successful in their career or business, compliment them on their intelligence, creativity and insights to capitalize on opportunity.
    • If someone is particularly well dressed, compliment them on their good taste.
    What you don’t want to do is compliment people on things that they were born with or did not have to work for. For example:
    • Don’t tell a gorgeous young girl that she is beautiful, she already knows this well and probably hasn’t worked at all for it.
    However there are situations where people are proud or have a sense of entitlement that you can complement if you want to stroke their ego. For example:
    • I have a very distinctive last name, when people tell me that they like it they just made an emotional deposit with me of about $100,000!

    Merge Groups

    If you are at a party or social event, there will be multiple groups of people standing around chatting. Over the course of the event you will migrate between different groups. As you see one of your previous groups in the physical proximity to your current group, invite them to join together. Make a joke about this if appropriate:
    I have some more friends over here to introduce you all to, can I arrange to get a merger & acquisition of our groups?

    You are going to be excellent at remembering names, since you are going to read our article How to Remember Names, you will know the names of everyone in each group and can introduce everyone. This makes you look like a true social Rockstar and sets you up as the dominant leader of both groups. Actually being able to pull this off will increase your social proof by about a 10,000%.

    14 Methods and Mindset Tricks To Make You A More Interesting Conversationalist | Limitless Mindset

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    Siobhan Harmer

    Siobhan is a passionate writer sharing about motivation and happiness tips on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on April 11, 2019

    How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

    How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

    Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

    I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

    I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

    Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

    How Communication Skills Help Your Success

    Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

    Create a Positive Experience

    Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

    When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

    What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

    Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

    As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

    Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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    Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

    Help Leadership Skills

    It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

    Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

    As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

    Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

    If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

    Build Better Teams

    Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

    In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

    If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

    When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

    Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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    How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

    There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

    Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

    1. Listen

    Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

    Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

    People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

    Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

    Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

    2. Know Your Audience

    Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

    Here is a good way to think about it:

    Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

    You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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    3. Minimize

    I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

    He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

    Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

    State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

    The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

    4. Over Communicate

    So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

    What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

    Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

    Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

    Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

    There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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    5. Body Language

    The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

    When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

    In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

    When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

    Conclusion

    Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

    Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

    There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

    Now go communicate your way to success.

    More Resources About Effective Communication

    Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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