By Jared Atchison, co-founder of WPForms
Do you think you are a good conversationalist? Are you able to meet someone new and kick off a conversation like you've known them for years? Being able to hold a conversation is essential in social settings and, even more importantly, in business.
Whether you have killer charisma or you're more socially awkward than you would like to admit, there is always room for improvement. You want to go into conversations and make deals happen, build strong relationships and, in general, feel and act more confident while speaking to others.
It's important to keep in mind that when you're talking business, everything you say and do reflects on you and your brand. Let's look at how you can improve your social skills and become a master conversationalist.
Remember, it's a two-way street.
One of the most significant problems people face when talking to others is that they don't listen to what the other person is saying. When you're in a particularly deep conversation, it can be challenging to keep your mind on the whole conversation.
Instead of thinking about what you're going to say next, listen to the other person. They are engaging with you because there is a deal to be made, a relationship to be built or an otherwise essential piece of information they want you to know.
If you spend more time thinking about your next words, you'll miss out on important details that help build relationships, whether business or otherwise. Conversations are a two-way street, so treat them that way.
Paraphrase the core points.
When you're speaking with someone, it's crucial that you and the person you're speaking to are on the same page. When you are talking business or debating a point, paraphrase their ideas back to them to make sure there is a mutual understanding.
Here is an excellent example of how you should paraphrase:
Person A: "We need to start investing in a new generator. It will save us money."
You: "Okay, so you think that we need to spend the money on a new generator because it will save us money in the long run. Can you tell me how it will save us money?"
In this example, you can see how paraphrasing lays their idea out so that you both understand the concept on the table. You can then use this to steer the conversation in a productive direction. As you practice this tactic, you'll learn that it gets easier to paraphrase ideas back to the other person in the conversation.
Watch your body language.
Your body language is just as important as the words that are coming out of your mouth. Now, you may be wondering how you can improve your body language when talking to others.
The two most important rules are to stand up straight and make eye contact, but be casual. You don't have to stare at them with piercing eyes. However, it's essential that you maintain a friendly tone and keep casual eye contact while speaking.
You can also improve your body language by avoiding crossing your arms. This signal shows that you're pushing the other person away. Furthermore, make sure your entire body is facing them while speaking, whether you're standing or sitting. When your legs are facing away from the person to whom you're talking, it's an "exit" signal, meaning you're not entirely invested in the conversation at hand.
There are many ways to improve your skills as a conversationalist. Like all abilities, they take practice and time to master. Everyone is different, so as a bonus tip, remember to pay attention to the type of person you're talking to. Some people are fine joking around; others are serious all the time. You have to learn people's personalities and adapt your tone, body language and the way you speak.
As you begin to master the art of communication, both verbal and body, you'll find yourself always ready to have a robust conversation, regardless of who you're talking to or the topic at hand. Before you know it, you'll be an excellent conversationalist in any situation.
Jared Atchison is the co-founder of WPForms, a drag & drop form builder for WordPress that's being used on over 400,000 websites.