The Irish tell a great story of how, if you kiss the Blarney Stone, at Blarney Castle in Eire, you will be magically granted “the gift of the gab” – in other words you will never run out of things to talk about and be able to speak with eloquence and style!
Now given the capabilities of the Irish to chat and entertain with story-telling who are we to query that tradition?
Better communication skills and a high degree of conversational ability are something many people wish they had more of. But, if travelling to Ireland, just to kiss a piece of rock is not possible for you at the moment, (although I have it on good authority that it does actually work), you should read on to get a few tips for increasing your ability to communicate better.
9 Tips to improve your conversational talents.
1. Talk about what you know
In conversation our words betray us. There’s a famous saying that goes something like, “when you open your mouth you usually let people see how little you know instead of how much” and every one of us, at one point, have done precisely that. Conversations on subjects we know something about are always much safer.
If you do not know about a subject, listen and learn, and if you are asked your opinion be honest and say “this is something I don’t know much about.” Then you can give a truthful perspective of how you feel about it. We all have our limitations, and you will be respected for your honesty.
2. Actively Listen
Active listening is a sign of confidence and respect to the speaker. It is an important talent to have. Focus on what others say and how they are saying it. As you hear the words hear the variation in the pitch of their voice. See how it changes depending on mood and the way the tone and pitch change what’s being recounted. And listen to what is actually being said and not your interpretation of it!
3. Watch for Body Language Signals
Watch how others communicate with their bodies. Don’t simply hear what others say, watch their body language and their gestures. If all you do is hear the words you will miss most of what they are telling you.
4. Acknowledge your Errors
One conversation skill often overlooked is admitting an error. We all mess up, and if you realize you’ve made a screw-up recognize it and admit it! If you are unsure about a word check if you asserted it properly or ask if you used the word in the right context (better still don’t use it at all until you understanding its full meaning). Folk accept fair mistakes, however if you are always using long words solely to show off they may quickly lose interest and will jump all over you when you make a mistake.
5. Make Eye Contact with your Audience
Eye contact is essential if you want to maintain a connection with someone. It doesn’t matter if you have an audience of one or one hundred, maintaining eye contact keeps them involved. Practice eye contact in a mirror and note what makes you uncomfortable as it probably has the same effect on others.
6. Inject a little Humour
Smile, smile, smile! When done well it can lift the stress, or recapture those people who’s thoughts have drifted away.
Unless you’re a stand up comedian don’t crack jokes. It is much better to tell humorous stories based on your personal experiences. However, never laugh hysterically at your own stories. Permit others to understand them without being embarrassed at your behaviour.
7. Me, Myself, and My Shadow
Engage the other person or people you are talking to. Let them feel that they are contributing to the conversation and injecting a piece of themselves and their opinion into it. Ask them about their opinions. In conversation don’t inflate your own ego by continually talking about yourself. This become very boring very quickly!
8. Social Groups
Get involved with others. Join social groups to refine your conversational skills. Whether that is a night college drama course, a course to enhance your public speaking, a book club or a Star Wars convention – get out there!
Get out there and talk to plenty of different folk and you may pick up all of the conversation talents you want.
9. Practice, practice, practice
Think of some anecdotes and stories and write practise them before you go out. Record your stories and play them back to yourself. Think about the questions you want to ask others and your answers to the same questions. Now if you are asked you’ll be in a position to deliver a more relaxed answer.
Being confident in the companionship of others is difficult for most. Few have the conversational skills of the Irish but the majority cope just fine. As with anything more conversation abilities and assured talking are all about learning and practising.
Do you want the ability to sway other’s opinions just by what you say and how you say it? Then check out Conversational Hypnosis to learn the art of hypnotic language!