Human beings are nothing if not social animals. We are built to bond, to form relationships, and to seek the company of other humans for comfort and support. Whether you’re extroverted or introverted, you need people around you who accept you for who you are and with whom you have built relationships of trust. If you don’t have those connections, the likelihood of battling depression, self-loathing, and suicidal thoughts greatly increases.
But in a world of texting and IM, have you lost the ability to stand face-to-face with another person and carry on a conversation? Does the idea of meeting someone new IRL put you into flop sweat mode? If you’re more comfortable typing a conversation on a keyboard than mingling with strangers at a party, it’s time for you to develop your conversational abilities and become the Most Interesting Man or Woman wherever you go. Developing the art of conversation is well worth going a little outside your comfort zone. You’ll find great people to talk with wherever you go and will have an enhanced ability to connect with dates and romantic partners.
Lesson 1: Get Over Yourself
What you must accept is that no one cares more about your interests, your strengths, your successes, or your amazing capacity to play (and win!) video games in marathon sessions than you do. Sure, you’re great, you’re funny, and you’re fantastically brilliant, but in meeting with other people, the joy is in letting them uncover your uniqueness a little bit at a time. The rule is that you cannot tell something new about yourself until you have learned something new about the other person. In the fine art of conversation, questions are key. Don’t know what to say to a stranger? Ask them a question and then really listen to the answer. Respond based on their answer by asking another related question or sharing something related about yourself (edit yourself to 60 seconds or less for any response you make to someone you’re just getting to know). Conversation is two-way, and people love to be asked about themselves, which is an easy way to break the ice. If you run into someone who goes endlessly on and on about themselves, you’ve got the perfect example of The Boring Monologue that Interests No One. Monologues are not conversation. Don’t be that person.
Lesson 2: Keep Your Body Language Open
We read each other’s body language on a subconscious level and respond to it on a subconscious level. Closed body language subconsciously tells others to leave you alone or even to respond to you in a hostile way. Closed body language includes crossing your arms and legs over the front of your body, maneuvering yourself to always stand sideways to another person, not making any eye contact, or putting so much personal space between you and anyone else that they feel they need to shout to be heard. Open body language, on the other hand, is inviting. When using open body language, you stand or sit up straight, you open up your trunk area (no crossing of arms or legs), you face your conversational partner, you make eye contact, and you frequently use your open hands to make fluid gestures that emphasize what you are saying. You may smile or laugh more. In an open conversation, you are using open body language, listening closely to what the other person says, and then responding directly to what they say.
Lesson 3: Practice
People practice ice-skating and card playing and running. No Olympic athlete ever got there by thinking about their sport theoretically and never actually practicing the movements over and over. There’s nothing wrong with practicing the art of conversation, either. In fact, the more practice you get, the more confident you’ll be, the more interesting you’ll become, and the more attractive you’ll be to potential mates. Even the shyest, introverted person or the most talkative attention hog can learn to become a good conversationalist with practice. Practice open body language when talking to others even when dropping your coffee order to the barista. Then enlist family, friends, or even the mirror to practice two-way conversation. It might seem strained and awkward at first to keep your mouth shut if you are used to blabbing on or to even open your mouth and make a comment if you’re the one who never speaks up. Keep at it. Like anything else, practice makes the conversation seem more effortless, and you’ll feel more comfortable over time.
If you really are the Most Interesting Man or Woman in the room, others will soon be able to catch a glimpse of your awesomeness through your effortless conversational skills. With practice, you can be an Olympic conversationalist.