Conversation is more than an art. The spoken word can convey confidence, power, and authenticity. Uttering those first words when you meet someone new can make a great first impression and lead to success. Wouldn’t you like to reduce the stress of a courageous conversation and know how you really appear to others?
Here is what your conversation style reveals about you:
1. You speak rapidly and a pause in the conversation makes you nervous.
Most likely you have a heightened sense of responsibility. However, a conversation involves two people. You don’t have to do it all and this will help you learn to delegate all other things in your life. Give the other person a chance to participate. Breathe slowly and deeply before you speak and make it a point to be silent and reflect. Know that great music depends on pauses.
2. You speak about the present; for example, what is going on at the party, the heat wave, the crisis in Syria, or the latest movie.
This is a great attribute because you are alive and alert, not rehearsed. This type of conversation immediately involves the other person and you are focused on active listening.
3. You have rehearsed a couple of great anecdotes or stories to insert in any conversation.
You like to prepare in advance for stressful situations and imagine successful scenarios in your mind. However, avoid coming across as over-rehearsed, or reciting monologues while not listening to what the other person is saying because you are thinking about what you need to say next. Ease up on yourself and release your spontaneous side too.
4. You ask a lot of questions.
Clearly you are interested in the other person, but you might appear to be an interrogator. While conversations thrive on questions, plan on sharing more of yourself: Experience, philosophy or feelings. Don’t hide behind the questions.
5. Your humor is sarcastic.
While sarcasm reveals a solid intellect, overdoing it might make you seem critical and negative, alienating others who don’t want to become the subject of your sarcasm. If you find yourself piling on the sarcasm, go the other route: Use self-deprecating humor.
6. You immediately share your own experience when someone reveals his.
For example, if the other person was sick in the past, you were even sicker or if the other person had a harrowing travel experience, yours was worse. While you are basically trying to validate the other person by sharing in the universal experience, you might appear to be self-centered or a bit narcissistic. Listen attentively and nod in agreement. Simply, let the other person know something similar happened to you and wait for a follow-up question.
Build up your likeability and credibility. The essentials of good conversations involve keeping an open attitude and avoiding absolutes. What works for me is taking on the role of a student instead of a teacher – even though I was a teacher for many years. Radiate good energy with a smile and make eye contact with soft affirming eyes, similar to welcoming someone into your home. Liberate your natural self, so if you meet again, you will not have to remember what mask you wore.