Something to talk about

GOOD CONVERSATIONS

Good conversationalists are supposed to be good talkers and tellers of fascinating tales with a vast font of knowledge to draw from.

“Not necessarily,” says Preeti Singh, a relationship expert. “You can be thought of as a good conversationalist if you have the right formula — be a good listener. People generally love talking about themselves, and an open-ended question (a question without a yes or no answer) is usually enough to get the conversational ball rolling in a room full of strangers.”

But listening with a bored expression and not contributing to the flow of conversation is also not a good enough strategy to be thought of as a good conversationalist feels Jude Koshy, a restaurateur. “You need to really listen to what someone is telling you, rather than trying to think what you are going to say next. That genuine level of interest may make you the most interesting person in the room,” he opines.

Jerusha Verghese, an executive and theatre person, is in agreement with the idea that good listeners are indeed the best conversationalists.

“Resist the urge to dominate the discussion. The very best conversationalists are usually people who are low-key, easy-going, cheerful, and genuinely interested in the other person. They are content to listen when other people are talking and make their own contributions to the dialogue, short and to the point.”

Since everyone enjoys talking, it takes a real effort to practice the fundamentals of excellent listening and to make them a habit.

“Listening is the most important of all skills for successful conversation and   many people inadvertently make poor listeners. They fidget, fail to make eye contact and interrupt people rudely in the middle of a sentence,” says Preeti.

“The best listeners have developed the knack of making the person who is speaking feel as if he or she were the only person in the world. Good conversationalists can even do this in the middle of a crowded room,” she adds.

Jerusha also feels that listening to the conversation and not interrupting the other person mid sentence is not enough.

“In addition to listening and not interrupting, nod, smile and agree with what the person is saying. Be active rather than passive. Indicate that you are totally engaged in the conversation. You will be thought of as a great conversationalist and an interesting addition to any group,” she smiles.

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