Effective Conversation

Effective Conversations, Minus the Awkwardness and Discomfort

This SocialMettle article dwells on how to be prepared to start a conversation with strangers or acquaintances, so as not to generate an awkward silence making everyone around uncomfortable.
SocialMettle Staff
Last Updated: Feb 8, 2018
Many a time, we face the problem of being tongue-tied while speaking or being introduced to a stranger. It is difficult to start a conversation as we are at a loss to select the course of the topic. This is especially felt when we know the basic particulars of the person, and one is not so familiar with the opposite person so as to pry into more private details.
This hitch is more pronounced when you meet a person slightly from the upper strata, somebody you admire, and are dying to talk to. But when the opportunity comes, you just cannot break the ice. By the time you decide on what to ask, the person moves away and you are left kicking yourself for an opportunity lost. In general, the aim of any conversation should be to create a spirit of happy congeniality. In order to enjoy a conversation and to contribute something to it, you must be genuinely interested in others. Alertness and quickness are essential. You cannot dream or hesitate, but must be ready to talk at the right moment.
Making a polite conversation is an art by itself. This skill is presently on the wane, as we often find people conversing just for the sake of it. The day's lifestyle and busy schedule also leaves people with little time or experience to indulge in soft talk. Nevertheless it is an art, which holds us in good stead as a person who converses freely reaches out to other people. Many simple conversations lead up to fruitful relationships and encounters. Just by speaking and listening one broadens the frontiers of self-knowledge through other people's experiences and endeavors. It also let us see in a casual environment how different people think, feel, and perceive the same object differently. As a good listener one can also find traces of one's personality, and once identified can study it impartially which will lead to self-reflection and self-improvement.
For those of us who get tongue-tied when they need to open a conversation some safe and popular topics which one could lean on to: -
Current Topics
This is a good starter especially between men. The subject could vacillate from politics, sports, and finance depending upon the current hot issue. Most men would have a decent interest and knowledge about at least one of these topics.
Weather
The weather is an age-old conversational topic, a hot favorite especially of the British. Britain has a lousy weather, perennially raining but Britishers love to talk about it. It is also a fact that you can hardly go wrong talking about the weather.
Clothes
Another safe topic to talk about is clothes and changing trends in fashion. The easiest way to start one is by identifying the brand or designer. Compliment a good outfit, especially if the person in consideration is a woman, is a sure way to extending the chat further.
Conversation as we discussed earlier, are not all about talking, but they also involve good listening skills. This should be remembered when somebody starts a topic. Answering in monosyllables is a sure way to dampen the mood of any discussion. There needs to be an extra effort from the respondent to carry the conversation forward. Other etiquette one could use are maintaining eye contact with the person speaking, wherein he is assured of your attention, not interrupting when the other person speaks, and hear he says before you reply.
In the course of a conversation we face occasions where we cannot agree, in such situations many of us go along with the discussion only to avoid unpleasantness. Such a conversation has no life, as the participants are not committed to it. One can disagree with someone's point of view without being quarrelsome or unpleasant. If you were to disagree on something, always start the argument in a polite manner, to avoid any awkward feelings.
As you practice the art of conversing, there will come a time when you will want to shift the topic to something else. Perhaps the topic of discussion is causing tempers to flare up, is of poor taste, silly, or just plain boring. Whatever the reason, there are ways that you can 'change the subject' without being rude, or even obvious about it.
Finally try to make everyone comfortable and part of the group. Real friendliness, concern, and sociability are the best props for a pleasant conversation.
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