It might be one of the simplest and most terrifying parts of human life: the conversation. While conversations with those we know well generally flow smoothly and without much effort, it is true that conversations with those more unfamiliar to us can be especially daunting.
However, with a deep breath and look toward the surprisingly simple techniques of professional talkers (i.e. actors!), the most challenging of conversations can be conquered. Check out these four simple tips for truly better and more creative conversations.
Positivity is Power
It’s an adage so old it has become cliché. Still, the idea that positive thinking leads to positive outcomes is demonstrably true within potentially nerve wracking conversations. Whether you know it or not, the way you feel during a conversation will show up on your face, alerting your conversational partner about your anxieties. Worst of all, these subtle facial and body language cues can be misinterpreted, leading to even more awkward moments.
One quick fix for this problem is to focus on the positive aspects of the conversation at hand. As this article from CNN points out, forcing yourself to mention things that literally make you happy, especially when these things relate to the other person, will automatically cast a positive spin over the conversation. A look to the theatre offers another helpful solution: pay attention to your body language.
Keep It Moving
In a similar way to positive thinking and conversation topics, simply being affirmative can help your conversations flow more smoothly. Again, this is a tip borrowed from improvisational theatre wherein actors are taught to answer in the affirmative to help progress a difficult scene.
While this doesn’t mean that the secret to conversational success is becoming a pushover (which is a problem worthy of its own article), it does mean that giving the appearance you are with the person you are speaking with has power. Words like “But” or “Wait” have the power to roadblock an otherwise productive verbal exchange.
This tip might be the most intuitive but it might also be the most important: observe your own conversational habits. Do you frequently refer to yourself, rather than to the person you are speaking with? Do you struggle to find common conversational ground?
By taking a moment to recall difficult conversations and awkward times, you can learn what prompts you to engage in counter-conversational behavior.
Often, conversations, awkward or not, can be mysterious. However, by thinking carefully about what was said and why (just like a theatre troupe member), you can better understand the anatomy of a conversation and your own place in it.
Practice Makes Perfect
It may sound silly at first—should you really start practicing conversations before they happen? Surprisingly, the answer is yes. Think of it this way: Actors, comedians, and improvisational comedy group members must think carefully about what they say, often long before they ever come close to saying it. While real life conversations certainly have more consequences than a film or comedy routine, the same principle applies.
If you are interested in engaging in meaningful conversation practice, it can be extremely helpful to reach out to a qualified professional. The staff at Presenting Perfection understand the pressures of the conversation and are ready to help you handle social situations with ease. Contact them today!