From: THE GUYS
People have been coming to our site with questions, and sadly we haven’t had all the answers. Here are some recent examples.
How to take a sophomore to the Prom?
How to talk to a guy after a fight?
How to paralyze someone? (Huh? This still makes us laugh and cringe!)
So to help out our readers, we decided to start our own How To series. Let’s begin.
The art of conversation has taken a nosedive in recent years. Why? We’re out of practice. Technology has had a lot to do with this, since we use our devices to do much of the talking for us. But really the blame lies with us, because we’ve stopped valuing face-to-face communication.
At an early age we learn how to converse from our parents. We observe their body language as they discuss household chores. We watch them handle sensitive topics like who’s night is it to be up with the baby. We see how they argue, and hopefully resolve problems. It’s a complicated and delicate dance for sure, and difficult to learn. But it takes a lot of time and practice. Hopefully this guide will help you become aware of the finer points of good conversation, and get you started on your way to becoming an artful conversationalist, or maybe just a little less boring.
Let’s pretend you’re meeting someone new or you’re on a first date. Here are ten things that might help you keep it interesting, or at least yawn free.
1. Greet the person with a smile. Getting off to the right start is key to having a good conversation. Smiling breaks the ice and lets the person know you’re happy to see them, or at least eager to get to know them. Otherwise they start to think, “Do I have a furry woodland creature coming out of my nose? And I don’t even have a tissue.”
2. Keep eye contact. And that doesn’t mean bore a hole through their head. You don’t want to scare them right away. Save that for later when you tell them about your latest stint in rehab. This means, look at them when they’re speaking, or for that matter, when you’re speaking. And please don’t constantly glance at the big flat screen TV or the cute waiter or waitress. Those are big No Nos!
3. Ask them questions that are relevant. Whether you care about the topic being discussed or not is irrelevant, because the primary goal is to get to know the person better. If they’re discussing Yoga passionately ask them to tell you their morning routine, or what is their favorite pose, or what would be something good for a beginner to try, or what are the best poses to relieve constipation. (Okay, maybe save that last one until you’re married.) But don’t ask them to show you Downward-Facing Dog, or what they look like in their outfit, or if all Yoga people use Patchouli, or how does the mat feel on their soft skin. That’s creepy and pretty much a conversation stopper!
4. Don’t redirect. We like to talk about ourselves. And there is nothing wrong with that. However, flipping the conversation to give yourself a platform for pontificating about your Iron Man training or your Dog Grooming business won’t win you a new fan. If you feel it’s relevant to interject a personal experience about the topic at hand that is completely appropriate, but then please redirect back to them. Sorry did I say, don’t redirect?
5. Read their body language. This isn’t always easy, so here are some tips. If the person has tears dripping down their face, it’s best to stop talking about your fascinating Cigar or Porcelain Figurine collections. If they keep looking at their water glass like it should be in the Louvre, it’s best you stop talking about your last partner’s annoying habit of picking the calluses off their feet. And if your friend starts to look at the waiter or waitresses or the big screen TV, even without SOUND, it’s best to ask them a relevant question quickly.
6. Listen. No, for real. Listen!! This doesn’t mean, listen for the first opening to inject some clever quip. This means listen, and show them you are interested in what they’re saying by looking at them(#2), and asking them relevant questions(#3). Listening is an art form in itself. It takes practice. So practice on your buddies, or on your boss, but don’t go out on dates to practice listening, unless you like going on a lot of first dates.
7. Show that you’re interested. This goes along with listening. One way to show interest in what they are talking about is to use their name when you ask them a question. “Jane/Jon, I heard that apples bring on physical reactions during allergy season. Is that true?” Of course they’d better be talking about some sort of homeopathic remedy to ask a question like that. (Remember, keep it relevant!) Using a person’s name is very effective and will immediately tell the person you are focused only on them. Some other obvious things. Eye contact(#2). And body language(#5). Don’t slouch, glance or pick anything. Sit upright and maybe even lean forward a bit and nod your head. One Word of Caution. You are not auditioning for a play. Don’t overact or overuse any of these things, or you’ll win the “Worst Impression of a Conversationalist” at the next SAG awards.
8. Don’t share too much. By all means tell the person about yourself. They want to get to know you too. But don’t get too personal. You don’t have to share about those funny spots that cover your neck beneath your turtleneck, or the time you and some friends woke up naked inside the science museum, or the fact that you tend to yell out “mommy” when you sleep. These are things best left to mention after you’re married.
9. Show you have a sense of humor. It helps if you are funny, but that doesn’t mean telling jokes. This is not a comedy act and your friend is not your audience. You can certainly try to inject funny remarks or a few humorous stories into the conversation. It’s even OK to gently tease your friend. Teasing is a form of flirting and can be very attractive, but please be subtle. Don’t make fun of any physical features, or their family or friends. Another note of caution. Don’t try to be funny if you’re not. You can always show you know how to have a good time by laughing with them. Which brings us to our last point.
10. Be yourself. Be genuine. Don’t change the way you do things just to make a good impression. If you’re not one to talk a lot, then listen a ton and ask questions. If you’re used to dominating conversations, then get your friend involved. The best you can do is show the person you are interested and let them know who you are.
Conclusion: Avoid the yawn. This is your goal for the entire night. Once your new friend yawns the night’s over. It doesn’t matter if they say they’re tired, or they had a long day at work. Those are all nice ways of saying, “Check please.”
So relax and have a good time. You might be surprised at how stimulating a good conversation can be.
If not you can always go home and play with your ipad.
Do you have any funny, scary, horrible or awesome conversations you would like to share with everyone?
Or do you have any more advice on how to have a conversation?