Meeting people is an experience that many people dread, which is odd considering how often it happens. In order to lessen this apprehension I have put together a checklist of things to remind yourself of before, during, and after a conversation. Let me know if I’ve missed anything that you think is important to include, or if you think I’m off base with any of my summaries.1. Before you begin, decide what you want from this conversation.If you didn’t start the conversation, respond with honesty and however much attention you care to afford (maybe you really dis/like this person which should change the intensity of your response).If it is a time killer while you wait in line, treat it like one and keep your comments short and noninvasive.If it is business related or serious (relationship talks), stay on topic and keep your input succinct. These tend to go best when you plan ahead by preparing questions, and answers to expected questions.If you are looking for a more permanent interpersonal relationship you should be delving into each other’s motives and character traits, assuming that you both have the time to do so.If you’re just trying to get laid, falsifying interest just to bed a physically attractive person isn’t a very attractive thing to do. I prefer to weed out the conversational dummies since being a good conversationalist is important to me. I try not to just fall for dat ass/dem abs. Be honest with yourself from the start since your interactions with this person will only ever be as genuine as your first impression. Don’t lie to get in bed with someone, you’re better than that.2. Ask questions that relate to the conversation’s most recent or strongest topic. Asking questions and inviting the person to talk about themselves is important but this is not the only thing you need to be doing. If your conversation hasn’t started yet, ask a question concerning whatever interests you most about this person or make an approachable statement about your present circumstance. If nothing interesting is happening around you and you already know a lot about this person, make something interesting happen. Even doing something out of the ordinary like dancing up to an interesting co-worker can be a conversation starter. The answers people give you will almost always give you something to talk about; if they don’t then they’re the ones being boring or dismissive by giving answers that are too simple. Don’t take blame for this, try again with a new topic or move on.3. Follow up their answers by interjecting with your own true personal experiences and relevant input (the more you do/know, the easier this will be). This allows the person you are talking with to relate to you. You can also use this time to give answers to your own questions, “How’d you like my dance? [Uhh, it was pretty fuckin’ weird] Hmm maybe, but I thought it was pretty damn good and I even improvised it on the spot. So you don’t dance, huh?”, rather than waiting for them to repeat the question back to you. Give as much information as you are expecting to receive and lead by example.4. Be animated in your listening. Don’t just sit there and stare; nod, smile, laugh, be surprised, all when relevant to the conversation. In most cases (any case where you care about progressing the conversation further) you will aim to mirror the demeanor and emotions of your conversational partner without forcing it (don’t cry just because they are crying, but offer comfort instead of a subject change or attempts at humor). Genuine human interaction is what people are looking for when they talk to other people, and reciprocal displays of interest and empathy are great ways to share this satisfaction with others.5. Maintain eye contact as a listener whenever possible. It should only be expected of the listener (this role should often change hands) to maintain eye contact. A listener’s eye contact reminds the speaker that the listener is mentally present and interested. If your company is talking, you should be looking at their face. The speaker has the choice to break eye contact. If you are talking, you can look where you like as long as you aren’t disrespecting your company in the process. I’ll often find my eyes wandering through the room when I’m telling a story, as if remembering the things I’m describing in their relative locations.6. Let the silences be silent. Yes they can be uncomfortable but you aren’t the only person experiencing this embarrassment. Use this time to reflect on the conversation and remember missed topics to bring up. Only disturb the silence when you actually have something to say, not just because you can’t take it anymore. Breaks in conversation are an opportunity for you to evaluate your company and see how they handle the discomfort. Eye contact is very powerful during these times though only when paired with facial expression. By assuming the ‘listener’ role you put the pressure onto your company to interrupt the lull. Don’t do this with every pause though.7. Relax. The person you’re talking to doesn’t care about what you’re lacking, they care about what you have to offer. Stop worrying about your imperfections because you notice them way more than anybody else does. Communication is the best way to connect with other people and you’re already an interesting person. You do a lot of things/have a lot of interests (if you’re not sure then make a list of the things that you do/are interested in, and if you don’t then pick up a new book or activity) and you are already interested in having conversations (you’re here, aren’t you?). The only thing stopping you from having great conversations is other people who don’t want to converse. You’re ahead of the game, stop thinking that you aren’t.8. Allow their opinions to differ from your own. You don’t know everything nor should you strive to (it’s really fucking annoying to me when people pause a conversation to look something up). You also don’t need to agree on everything to get along with someone. Don’t be afraid to share your own opinion but also don’t expect to change theirs. Even if they are stating ‘facts’ that you know to be false, let it slide unless doing so will negatively effect the conversation/relationship. I only ever correct my closest friends because I know that they won’t take it personally. If you feel that your company’s opinion is unwarranted, ask them why they feel/believe/think that way then play a bit of devil’s advocate. More often than not, making someone feel bad about opening up will make them reluctant to continue doing so. Tread carefully.9. Sometimes people are just disinterested/uninteresting. While practicing conversation it is important to talk to people at every opportunity. It is equally important to know when to drop the ax on a conversation. The time to move on is most obvious when a conversation continually runs dry, one of you is pressed for time, or it becomes clear that the intensity of the conversation differs between parties. None of these is your fault and shouldn’t be taken as a mistake. What’s important is that you tried and hopefully learned something. Eventually rejection and awkwardness will be as permissible as friendships.tl;dr: 9 Points to keep in mind while conversing: 1. Identify conversation type, 2. Ask relevant questions, 3. Give relevant answers, 4. Be an animated listener, 5. Eye contact, 6. Let silence be, 7. Relax, 8. Allow differing opinions, 9. Let the uninteresting/disinterested be. via /r/YouShouldKnow
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