I was a very private person. Deliberately, I avoided networking events. I was not confident building relationships or networks. I always wondered if I could ever hold deep conversations. But recently, that excuse was ripped off me as I am required to attend different formal and informal networking events to meet and connect with different people. During this short period, without being immodest, I have really improved in my conversations.
But I realized something is missing in most conversations. The depth of conversations between people is very shallow. We seem to be a generation of people that ask the usual mundane question that flows out of every conversation. I believe when you meet people it is your duty to leave them with memories. What I call a conversation that sparkles.
A great conversation that sparkle is one that strikes a balance between talking and listening. We have been taught to show signs of listening to conversations, but it makes no sense to just show if you are not really listening. A man with great conversational skills can converse with anyone confidently. He can seamlessly flow with no hassle in conversation even if he does not like or agree with people on a personal level. Conversational competence is one of the skills of building a great network that has been overlooked, especially in this moment of chits chats social media conversations. Deep conversations are simply allowing yourself, your mind and your past experiences to relax while you converse with others with an open mind to learn something new. it is about reminding yourself that everyone is an expert on something; that everyone has one thing that you can learn if you pay attention.
I am learning to improve my conversational skills. You can do same too. As someone who was struggling with having thoughtful conversations, the following strategies have helped me in a slow but significant way. These strategies are relevant in any conversational situations
1. Be present. We are a people that believe in multitasking and that have affected our conversations. True conversation flows deeply and sparkles when we are in the moment and allow our mental focus to the moment. With a complete ‘I am in’ gesture, ‘I’m not half in and half out’.
2. Drop your admonitions. This is one of the things I use to get wrong during conversations. Consciously, I am learning not to admonish. Do not come to a conversation with preconceived bias and thoughts to teach or impose, rather listen, to hear the views of others about the topics that you find yourselves discussing.
3. Use open-ended questions. open-ended questions are questions that allow people to express their thoughts about issues without giving a direct answer in the negative or the positive. For example, instead of saying do you like this event? You can say what do you like about this event? Instead of saying why are you in this event? you can say ‘what made you be interested in this event?’ Open-ended questions help people have their perspective and it sparks their inner thoughts and feelings about a topic or experience. It also helps you have a great conversation that sparkles your reasoning about their thoughts on issues.
4. Allow the discussion to flow. We are a people that interrupt conversations with preconceived thoughts. Great conversation that sparkles requires that you allow others to express themselves unbridled. While It is good others know all about your personal and professional life. Conversation is not a time to promote or brag about self. It is a time to learn from others. It is not a time to equate your experiences with others. Everyone has different unique experiences allow them to express themselves uninterrupted.
5. Listen. A conversation that sparkles requires us to listen at a deeper level. A level of attention that does not require us to listen with an intention to reply but with an intention to understand. I have made mistake in the past where I jump to reply in a conversation but courtesy and great conversation demands that to sparkle others with memories through conversation, we should learn to hear the other persons out and deeply try to understand what they’re communicating with us. Note, this does not misplace in such situations to nod or gesticulate in agreement (or disagreement) of what your partner may be saying.
6. Join the conversation but be brief. Don’t just talk, allow others to also share their feeling and knowledge and experiences with you. Remember, no one is patient enough to listen to an unending one-sided conversation. Develop the consciousness to know when to stop talking and when to start talking.
The above are not etched in stone. either do you need to apply all of them? But there is a joy that comes with having conversations that sparkle. If you could use just one of this strategy in your next conversation you will see how rewarding your networking life will be. It is not going to be easy I bet you, yet it is possible. If you Consciously try, you will sublimely build into your subconscious mind to have great sparkling conversations.