Effective Conversation

Many a time we face the problem of being tongue-tied while speaking or while being introduced to a stranger. It is difficult to start a conversation as we are at a loss to decide on 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 somebody you 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 persons 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 conversation and to contribute something to it, you must be natural and 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 very rarely find people conversing for the sake of conversation. The day’s lifestyle and busy schedules 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 a simple conversation leads 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’s 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 around 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, finance depending upon the current hot issue. Unless you are highly unfortunate 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 the British love to talk about it. It is also a fact that you can hardly go wrong talking about the weather .It has been ad aged as one of the most non-controversial subject.

Clothes: This is another safe place to begin conversation. If one could recognize the brand of the outfit or identify the designer one could easily start a conversation. It would also take one few steps further if we could compliment a good outfit especially if the person in consideration is a woman.

Conversation as we discussed earlier is not all about talking but also involves good listening skills. It should be remembered that when somebody opens a conversation there are certain things you would need to be careful unless you are disinterested in continuing the topic. Answering in monosyllables is a sure dampener for a conversation. There needs to be an extra effort from the respondent to carry the conversation forward. Other etiquettes one could use are maintain eye contact with the person speaking wherein he is assured of your attention, do not interrupt when the other person speaks and hear what the person has to speak 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 conversation 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 with out being quarrelsome or unpleasant. How to disagree without being disagreeable? If you start by giving due consideration to the opponents opinion for e.g. "You may be right but I feel that… "You have made an interesting comment but I believe that…" When you start with any one of those sentences, especially if it’s given in a friendly tone of voice nobody could take offense to your giving an opposing viewpoint. It is possible to disagree with out being disagreeable well; when you disagree with someone you have a difference of opinion. When you are disagreeable; you are unpleasant, offensive, quarrelsome and bad-tempered. The two do not have to go together.

As you practice the art of conversation, starting and joining many conversations with many different types of people, there will come a time when you'll want to shift the topic of conversation to something else. It could be that the topic under discussion is causing tempers to flare up or is of poor taste, silly or just plain boring. Whatever the reason, there are ways that you can "change the subject" with out being rude, or even obvious about it. Here are some pointers on how that can be done.

"The stock markets been down these days", says #A.

"Do you mean all stock markets or the Indian one?" Asks #B.

"I hear that they will remain so until the political situation improves. Do you think the communists would let the govt. run the way they would really want to", says conversation partner #C, who has masterfully shifted the topic of conversation.

Finally try to make everyone comfortable and part of the group. This is done not so much by what we say as the way we say it. Real friendliness, concern and sociability are the best props for a pleasant conversation.

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