Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Confident Conversation

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1. Connecting and dis-connecting skills. "I can engage others in conversation and also disengage tactfully and easily." Ending a conversation gracefully can be as challenging as finding the right "ice-breaking." For example if you are at a networker or party and wish to end a conversation with someone, you could say "It's my goal is to meet five new people tonight and it was very nice meeting you. Have a great evening." Shake hands and move on. Or if you wish to resume the conversation at another time, say so.

2. Attending and listening skills. "I can pay close attention and listen carefully and accurately when others talk to me." Listen to understand, not to identify.

3. Questioning skills. "I can manage a variety of question types that help me learn about people and what they feel and know." (For example, open and closed questions, indirect questions, and "if" questions.) Open-ended questions allows your conversation partner to give a fuller response by providing you with more information which is valuable if you are trying to get to know someone. For example, "What do you like about your profession?" vs. "Do you enjoy your profession?"

4. Content and knowledge skills. "I add to my knowledge about many subjects and can relate to the varying topics and interests of different people. As well, I have fresh, accurate knowledge to share." Read, go to lectures, listen to talk radio.

5. Descriptive skills. "I have a good vocabulary and use it to create word pictures to help others understand what I mean. I use analogies and examples and stories to make my talking interesting and clear." This can take practice if you're not accustomed to speaking in metaphors. Google "metaphors" and see what comes up.

6. Body language skills. "I am able to use my face, voice, and body to add interest, variety, and emphasis to what I say." Research shows that over 55% of communication is nonverbal. Some reseachers say it's over 90%. Whichever, it's a lot! Pay attention to your posture, gestures, and facial expressions. And don't bore your listener with a flat tone. Spice it up with moderate highs and lows.

7. Adaptation skills. "I am able to adjust my manner of relating when conversing with people of different gender, age, and background." (Being able to do this requires flexibility and a high acceptance level of human differences.) Communication is not about what you say; it's about what is heard. Be sensitive to differences.

Loren Ekroth © 2005 Loren Ekroth, Ph.D. is a specialist in human communication and a national expert on conversation for business and social life. His articles and programs strengthen critical communication skills for business and professional people. Contact at
Loren@conversation-matters.com Check resources and archived articles at www.conversation-matters.com


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