Knowing how to have an interesting conversation is a great way to demonstrate communication skills. If you want to have more than just “some conversation”, check these tips below.
It will help you avoid those conversations we feel are “cringe-worthy” and also help you be a better networker. After all, people may not remember exactly what you said but they will remember how you made them feel.
Show genuine interest in the person
Asking simple questions like, “How did you do that?”, can go a long way. Let people explain to you why they are geniuses and you will see how to have an interesting conversation. Asking questions to keep the conversation going can become some of the best conversations to have.
Keep the conversation positive
Have you ever met a person who thinks the way to have an interesting conversation is to bring up the negative side of everything?
An old Saturday Night Live skit referred to this as being a “Debbie Downer”. After hearing the best news ever, the Debbie Downer contributes with negative opinions to completely deflate the great news.
No one needs to know the negative side to everything. Unless they specifically ask, “What can go wrong with this?”, keep the negative comments for your own imagination.
Try not to dominate the conversation
When you are meeting a new group of people, demonstrate communication skills by finding out more about THEM.
A common mistake people make when starting a new job is that they are so eager to impress, they never stop talking about themselves.
Give the staff time to find out what you can do without lengthy monologues about your life. All good things come in good time. Look for key points to contribute to conversations or start them when you feel the time is right. If you sense you are overwhelming people, back off the conversation and let it end.
Stick to safe topics
Stay away from topics involving politics, religion, and personal habits. No one at work needs to know who you worship, voted for in the last election, or how many times a week you wash your hair.
In recent years with social media and the current political climate, such topics almost seem to come up by accident.
Unfortunately, unsafe topics may also lead to animosity in the workplace. Demonstrate communication skills by sticking to safe topics. This way, you are respecting people’s beliefs by never talking about them.
Have a conversation, not a comparison-conversation
Some conversations fall into the trap of becoming a comparison-conversation. For example, a colleague comes in explaining her happiness with her child’s recent academic accomplishment. You may want to discuss your child’s success as a way of being relatable or adding to the conversation.
But if you do this, the colleague may look at you, as if you are stealing her thunder ie. Comparing achievements. Demonstrate communication skills by letting the colleague brag and respond only with positive statements of support and congratulations.
Give people the stage when they want it. Knowing how to have an interesting conversation often begins with understanding give and take. When you are giving, your attitude is more like, “There you are!” When you are taking, it is more like, “Here I am!”.
Embrace what you are hearing without judging it
Eye contact and simply listening can help you have an interesting conversation. For those who work with customers in the general public, this comes up often. Sometimes people just want to talk without being challenged or judged.
If someone is ranting about something they did, and you disagree with it, do not offer a judgment statement like, “It sounds like you should have done this instead.”
Not only is that behavior obnoxious, it also shows you care more about hearing your own voice.
Sometimes someone just wants to talk, and for some reason, you cannot deal with it. Believe it or not, people will be more likely to talk to you again in the future if they feel you care only about how to have an interesting conversation.
If the conversation is one that makes you uncomfortable, and you do not want to be a part of it, you are showing character by politely excusing yourself.
You also demonstrate communication skills by excusing yourself without being rude. A simple, “My apologies. You caught me in the middle of something. I have to run.” is a polite way of stepping away from an uncomfortable conversation.
The problem with staying in too many conversations you disagree with is that eventually, you will attract people who love to talk about things you take issue with. The worst feeling is to get caught in a conversation about something rude or offensive, and then being associated with that conversation. You did nothing to let that person know, “This conversation makes me uncomfortable”.
Above all, being yourself is key to building the right network for yourself! Read more from this blog on how to build relationships at work.