Awkward Moments: How to Improve Your Conversation Skills

conversation skills 2Are you an extreme extrovert that marches through meetings with attractive men like a military tank, fully confident and well-armed with social chatter ready to be discharged? Probably not, very few women are wired that way, for most women these meetings can be tense, regardless of how the meeting was arranged.

Even after e-mails, phone exchanges, and perhaps a mini-date, full face-to-face meetings can be anxiety producing.

What if there’s a lull in the conversation or you find yourself at a loss for words? First, it is helpful to be prepared with a mental list of conversation starters. Not only will these seeds keep the dialogue moving and interesting but knowing that you are prepared will go a long way toward quieting your nerves.

Keep these questions in mind and you’ll find it easier in your next social encounter:

What do you like best about yourself?

Who are your heroes?

What is your greatest temptation?

How did you come to your career?

What kind of talent would you most like to have?

What makes you happy?

What kinds of things really irritate you?

What was the craziest thing you ever did?

What event in your life would you like to play over, and why?

What kinds of things do you find yourself thinking about most often?

Oh, some of these questions don’t work for you? Not to worry, the point is being prepared, regardless of the questions you have ready to keep the conversation moving. The key is to ask open-ended questions (those that cannot be answered in one word) that explore your date’s interests, likes, and dislikes.

Most men are flattered when a woman takes an interest in them, and most men enjoy talking about themselves, especially if the questions stimulate their thinking. In fact, I have passed this approach by several men and the consensus is along these lines: “She’s interested in me!” and that’s a good thing.

Remember to ask follow-up questions, such as: How did you come to that interest? or What do you enjoy about that? Pose these same questions to yourself and give your answers some thought before your date. Adding your own ideas to the conversation will provide give-and-take and will serve as a great base for a flowing, lively, enjoyable conversation.

What’s more, bringing in your own responses lets your date learn about the real you without the pressure and anxiety of having to think on your feet.

But what if after all that there is still that dreaded lull? It can happen, and there is a solution for that as well. Look your guy in the eye and spontaneously remark, “I don’t know why I just thought of this, but…” Of course, that ploy was far from spontaneous, it was another element of your “just in case” preparation.

It is followed by an interesting story you’ve rehearsed so well it doesn’t sound rehearsed. My experience with both of these strategies, open-ended conversation starters and the “spontaneous,” “I don’t know why…” is that the preparation alone will relax you so well into the flow of the conversation that you won’t need them, but they work and they are there if you do.

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