Conversation Skills BY-Dr. Shalini KaliaA gossip is one who talks to you about others; a bore is one who talks to you about himself; and a brilliant conversationalist is one who talks to you about yourself.
What is Conversation? Speaking and listening in a sequence. Oral exchange of sentiments, observations, opinions and ideas. Social Context: informal talk in which people exchange views, feelings and thoughts. Professional Context: informal discussion of an issue by representatives of institutions/groups.
Element of Informality Element of informality distinguishes conversation from debates, public speaking, negotiations or business discussions. Relaxed and friendly without being restricted by rules of correct behavior. Spontaneous, friendly and casual. Employed for creating friendly togetherness.
Social Conversation Expresses desire to establish a sociable atmosphere. Shares feelings of togetherness, rather than communicate ideas or any specific meaning. Phatic communion-a type of speech in which ties of union are created by a mere exchange of words. The togetherness of the talking, is the most important element in social conversation, the subject matter is only secondary. Social error not to say these things even if we don’t mean them. Phatic utterances are used to break silence. Purpose is to initiate conversation. Eg: it was a pleasure meeting you/How are your parents?/ Do come again/how do you do?/take care/nice morning, isn’t it?*Phatic: used to convey general sociability rather than communicating a specific meaning.
How to break Ice through Small Talk? Compliment others about what they are wearing, saying or doing. Ask others about things they told you in previous conversations. Be ready to ask open ended questions to learn more. Be enthusiastic about other people’s interests. Tell others something interesting or challenging about what you do. Present main ideas first and then add supporting details. Accept a person’s right to be an individual with different ideas and beliefs. Reintroduce yourself to someone who is likely to have forgotten your name. Start and end conversation with the person’s name and a handshake or warm greeting.
Direction of ConversationRejection Disagreement Consideration Agreement Commitment Conversation moving to left depicts moving away from you and against you or towards the right from the point of consideration on to agreement and commitment.
Art of Managing Negative Responses Show that you do not doubt the positive intentions of the other person. Use expressions such as “ you are right, but…..” When in conversation we notice the signs and cues of doubt, disagreement or rejection, we should pause and summarize whatever has been so far discussed and ask the other person whether the summary is correct. The acceptance of summary is first act of agreeing with you. Use this psychological positivity for further agreement by asking what should be done further. Look for concern and feelings of other person and ensure they are fully taken care by you. Never get frustrated or angry when you confront rejection and disagreement.
To be Assertive Without beingAggressive Assertive- not say yes when you want to say no, instead say no in a positive and firm manner. Indicate your response without hesitating in simple and clear words. When the negative consequences are foreseen as a result of expert critical thinking, its assertion is a valuable contribution to the discussion and decision making.
Conversational Attack and Controlled Response Answer emotion with cool facts only. Try to change the direction of conversation. Listen silently and respond with self control. Avoid using abusive language that may complicate the situation. Speak in a level tone. Avoid harsh, strong or insulting expressions. Don’t react emotionally. Draw attention to objective facts.
Conversation Control-skill of listening andtalking in a positive and meaningful way at anappropriate timeIncludes- Techniques of changing the direction of conversation smoothly. Ability to allow discussion to develop along key issues in an uninterrupted way towards the desired end. Helps us conclude our conversation effectively on a note of satisfaction as a result of mutual understanding and agreement.
Verbal and Visual indicators Verbal indicators-cues given and clues received Visual indicators-signs given and signals received
Ability to notice Cues and Clues Cue-keyword or phrase a person uses when he/she wants to indicate that something is important to him/her. Clue- word or set of words that someone else gives to us. Watch out for words- pressurized, concerned, angry, worried, annoyed, unhappy, enthusiastic, keen, excited, inspired, doubt, concern. Listen and carefully notice natural pauses persons use after saying something that is important.
Interpreting Signs and Signals Signs-frown, smile, eye movements… that we give to others. Signals –behavioral indicators others give us.
Parallel Conversations Countering the original statement with another statement just parallel to it. Two parallel statements cannot meet and can’t be linked together to resolve the issue. No dialogue, just statements shot at each other. No attempt to get to the meaning behind the words used by the other person.
Example-Parallel ConversationX: It is necessary that we increase our export.Y: I think it is most important for us to reduce our manpower immediately.X: By increasing our exports we can build our brand image.Y: By reducing the number of workers we can cut down our cost.
Sequential Conversation Converse in a skillfully controlled way Make statements in a sequence to what is said by other person. Logical link between statements made by speaker and listener. Listener receives carefully and waits for his proper turn to say clearly and forcefully. Carries forward the conversation in a connected and sequential form. Within a short time ideas and thoughts are developed in a structured pattern. Possible only when listener attaches some value to what is said by speaker.
Reflection and Empathy Show the other person that you are genuinely interested in his/her statements. Pick up the cue words and reflect upon their meaning. Play them back objectively, without changing or adding or altering them in anyway. Don’t criticize or question or add to what someone says. Body language should show real interest.
Inter-Cultural Conversation Besides language difficulty, the intercultural interaction is deeply affected by the lack of familiarity with business and social norms and conventions belonging to the respective cultural groups.