The Art of Great Conversation

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So you’ve secured the date with the blonde you met at the bar last week. You’re wearing your lucky shirt, your favourite cologne, and you’re even two minutes ahead of schedule to pick her up.

But wait… Do you have an opening line? What if the conversation dies?

Being a good conversationalist is an art that will take you far, not just with the ladies, but also in your professional life, your personal life and just about everywhere else.

Here are three basic tips to help you master the art of great conversation.


1. Don’t be a narcissist

Talking only about yourself is a surefire way to turn someone off. Yet conversational narcissism is common, because the easiest way to fill an awkward silence is to quickly reach for the subject you know best – you.

The trouble with this strategy is that you’ll seem like a self-obsessed dolt. If you notice you’ve been talking her ear off for five minutes straight, a simple, “so, what about you?” is an easy way to steer the conversation back onto her.

The very worst kind of conversation narcissist doesn’t only ramble on self-indulgently, but actually turns everything the other person says back onto him. If she’s telling you about a wonderful trip she took to Europe, your immediate response shouldn’t be, “I remember when I was in Europe…”

While, of course, it’s finel to swap stories, you’ll fare better if you keep the conversation on her for awhile at first. How?

2. Listen

Listening is your best bet at being a conversational whiz. We often fail to listen to someone when they are speaking, not because we’re bored (though that’s true sometimes) but because we are nervous.

Here’s the scenario. She’s talking and you’re nodding your head along pretending to listen, but really, you are distracted thinking about what to say next.

Then it backfires. She’ll be expecting you to react to what she just said, and you’ll seem like an insensitive jerk when she realizes you weren’t actually listening.

You’ll score some serious points if you’ve not only listened to what she’s said, but you respond with genuine interest about her. “So you went to Europe! What was your favourite part?”

3. Keep things open-ended (but not too much)

“Have you been to this place before? Were you born in the city? Do you like shellfish?”

Your date will clam up if you barrage her with a series of yes or no questions. While it’s fine to ask a few of these here and there, they should punctuate the conversation and not take over. You want to make sure you aren’t interrogating the poor girl.

To keep the ball rolling, ask open-ended questions that she can’t just answer with a yes or a no. “What’s keeping you busy these days?” is a good way to get her to open up.

Having said that, don’t fall into the wishy-washy trap of generality. If you ask generic, bland questions, you’ll get generic, bland responses. A dreaded question like, “so, what are you into?” guarantees you a dreary answer of, “music, reading, movies”.

Asking her about the last concert she went to or movie she saw is an easier way to springboard into a conversation and will keep both of you more engaged.

What to avoid

There are just some things you should avoid talking about on a date under any circumstances. Even if you manage to screw up everything else, there are at least three things you can remember to shut your mouth about.

  • Politics and religion should generally be avoided. Save the heavy topics for a few dates down the road. Ditto goes for past relationships or sexual partners, unless you want to send her running for the hills.
  • Don’t complain too much – about the food, the waiter, your crappy job, how your mom won’t get off your back – whatever it is, just don’t. Nobody wants to date a Debbie Downer.
  • Never ask, “How do you like me so far?” or otherwise check in on how the date is going. You should know this without asking her.

The goal of first date conversation is comfort, ease and fun. If you avoid the awkward topics, you’ll probably be OK.

But if you remember these three simple tips of making great conversation – keep the focus on her, listen to what she has to say, and ask thoughtful questions – you just might make a lasting impression with your conversational charisma.
 

 

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