7 Habits of Irresistibly Engaging ConversationalistsWant to be a more memorable communicator? Here’s how to pull it off. By Kat Boogaard
Do you know those people you really enjoy talking to? The ones that make each conversation — no matter how long it is — never seem quite long enough? Chances are, that person is an extremely engaging conversationalist. He or she has the gift of gab, so to speak, and makes each and every discussion feel like an opportunity — rather than a burden. So, what exactly makes these people such a thrill to talk to? Why is chatting with them such a rewarding experience? And, perhaps most importantly, how can you be more like that yourself?
Here are seven habits that all engaging conversationalists share.
1. They listen. People who are skilled in the art of conversing know that it’s often more about listening than talking. As a result, they display genuine interest in what their partner is saying. They actively listen, rather than simply waiting for their own turn to speak. After all, the know that the more engaged they are in the conversation, the more engaged the other person will be.
2. They make eye contact. There’s nothing worse than speaking with someone who continues scanning the room or not-so-subtly glancing down at his phone. Skilled communicators understand the value of eye contact. When someone is speaking, they look directly at that person. This demonstrates that they’re devoting their full attention to the conversation. And, usually, they can expect the same in return.
3. They ask questions. As great as these conversationalists are at communicating, they also know that they shouldn’t be the ones doing all of the talking. They don’t want to monopolize the exchange, so they make sure to ask plenty of questions of the people they’re speaking with. Prompting the other person to dive deeper into certain topics shows that they’re interested in engaging in a two-way discussion, rather than standing on their soapbox and blabbering on about themselves.
4. They go beyond small talk. Most memorable and impactful conversations typically don’t revolve around small talk pleasantries — they tend to go a little deeper than those surface topics and niceties. The most engaging conversationalists aren’t afraid to stray away from the standard starters and chat about something a little more substantial. That’s when the most noteworthy and meaningful conversations happen.
5. They tell stories. There’s nothing more interesting than an anecdote, which is why so many expert conversationalists weave them into even the most seemingly dull conversations. Most expert communicators are also wonderful storytellers. Stories are not only entertaining and attention-grabbing, but they also help to bring some much-needed context and detail to situations that could otherwise feel far away or completely intangible.
6. They’re animated. Telling a story is one thing. But, if you recite it in a monotone voice with a deadpan expression on your face, you’re still likely to bore your conversational partner to tears. The most impactful communicators aren’t afraid to get a little theatrical with their delivery. They don’t go overboard to the point of being distracting. But, they also don’t hesitate to make use of appropriately-timed facial expressions and hand gestures to bring their statements to life.
7. They keep things moving. In theatre, there’s something often referred to as “dead time.” This is the short pause that occurs between scene changes. Too long of dead time, and you risk losing the interest of your audience. Engaging conversationalists apply a similar rule to their discussions. They know if they take too long of pause, they could derail the focus and attention of their conversational partner. So, they keep things moving along without taking lengthy breaks or spending too much time on dull topics.
We could all afford to be a little more engaging in our conversations. Fortunately, it’s doable. Implement a few of these seven habits, and you’re sure to have a more productive, impactful, and memorable discussion.
Good stuff, right?