10 Steps To Become A Good Conversationalist

If you’re wondering how to have a good conversation with someone else right now, this article is definitely for you.

Today I was very lucky to find Celeste Headlee’s TED Talk and in this talk in English, Celeste exposes 10 key principles to be a good conversationalist. They became so true and accurate that I decided to make a summary for the blog.

So without further ado let’s see what are the secrets behind every good conversationalist.

1. Don’t multitask while talking to the other

Be present, in that precise moment. Don’t do any other activity outside of listening to the other person.

Sometimes, while we are talking with the other, we start to think about the argument we will have with the boss, what we are going to have for dinner, etc. If you absolutely want to get out of the conversation, do so, but don’t be half-hearted.

2. Don’t be dogmatic

If you want to make your opinion known without the opportunity for anyone else to respond to you, debate you, or question you, then write a blog. “The wise men” turn out to be boring and predictable. And you don’t want that, right?

You want to start a conversation because you assume that there is something valuable to learn from the other person .

The famous therapist M. Scott Peck said that sincere listening requires getting out of yourself. And sometimes this means putting personal opinions aside.

When the other feels this acceptance –without the desire to judge–, they feel less vulnerable and will be more and more willing to share with you the inner repressions of their mind.

So assume you have something to learn.

3. Ask questions

Ask questions that start with: what, who, how, when, where and why.

If you ask a complicated question instead, you will get a simple answer.

Don’t ask questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” For example, if you ask “Were you scared?” They are going to tell you “Yes, I was.” Or if you ask “Were you angry?” They will tell you “Yes, I was angry.”

Better let them describe it! At the end of the day, they are the ones who know! Try asking questions like: how was that? What did you feel? And this will make them stop for a moment to think about it, and consequently, you will have a much more interesting answer.

4. Follow the “flow” of the conversation

This means that thoughts will come to your mind and therefore, you will need to let them out.

We have often heard interviews in which the interviewee is speaking for several minutes and then the presenter comes back and asks a question that seems to have come out of nowhere or has already been answered previously.

That means the interviewer probably stopped listening a few minutes ago because he was thinking about this “really clever” question and was convinced and determined to ask it. And we do exactly the same! We are sitting talking with someone, and we remember those times we met the singer Luis Miguel in a cafeteria and we stopped listening …

Stories and ideas are going to come to you, take that for granted. But as they come, let them go.

5. If you don’t know something, better say so

People who interview on the radio are much more aware that they are being recorded and therefore are more cautious about the topics in which they claim to be experts and those that they do not master with as much certainty. So it is better to err on the side of caution than on fraud or liars.

6. Do not equate your experiences with those of the other

If they talk to you about the loss of a family member, don’t start talking about the time you lost a family member. Or if they talk about work problems, don’t tell them how much you hate your job. Is not the same! It is never the same. All experiences are different and unique.

It is important to emphasize that it is not about you. So you don’t need to take that moment to test how amazing you are or how much you have suffered.

Stephen Hawking was once asked what his IQ was, and he replied, “I have no idea. People who brag about their IQ are losers. ”

Remember: Conversations are not a promotional opportunity.

7. Try not to be repetitive

This ends up being boring for the other person and we tend to do it a lot; especially in work conversations or with the children. When we have an idea or a point that we want to highlight, we keep paraphrasing it over and over again… Let’s not do this.

8. Avoid details

Frankly, people don’t care to know the years, the names, the dates, or all those specific details that are trying to be remembered in your mind. They don’t care. What matters to them is you . They care about knowing what you like, what you have in common with them, etc. So put the details aside.

9. Listen carefully to the other

Active listening is the most important skill you can develop as a conversationalist.

Paraphrasing Buddha, he said that if your mouth is open, you are not learning. And Clavin Coolidge in turn pointed out that no one has been fired for listening too much.

But why then don’t we listen to others?

Well, first of all, because we prefer to talk. Because when we speak, we are in control . You don’t have to listen to anything you are not interested in, you are the center of attention and you can reaffirm your own identity. And second, because by listening, we are likely to get distracted.

Listening and paying attention to the other requires effort and energy , and if you can’t do this outright, then you are not in the conversation. It is as if it were two people shouting sentences that barely relate to each other.

Dale Carnegie explains in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People ( here is the summary of the Book How to Win Friends and Influence People ) that a good conversationalist for others is more than anything a good listener .

10. Be brief

Celeste Headlee’s sister – who gave this TED Talk with the tips to be a better conversationalist that I have shared here – explained it with a great metaphor: “A good conversation is like a mini skirt; short enough to retain attention, but long enough to cover the objective ”

All of these tips to be a good conversationalist that we have covered refer to a key principle: be interested in other people .

Show a genuine interest in the other. All people have something amazing within themselves and only good talkers are able to reveal this magic.

Celeste Headlee explains that what makes her a good host or interviewer is trying to keep her mouth shut as much as possible, as well as keeping her mind open and always being prepared to be surprised. And this means that she is never disappointed. You can do the same: get out there, chat with people, listen to them, and prepare to be surprised.


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Hi, my name is Rose Nolan, wife to my wonderful husband and self-confessed Desperate Housewives fan. This blog is all about my life, my lifestyle and anything in life that revolve around this. I am here to write down things that I discover in life that makes up my world and pretty much anything goes here. I'm coming at this from an everyday person point of view and hope you enjoy.

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