Holding a conversation is quite a useful skill that some people do naturally but the rest of us need to work at. Here are some methods and ideas you can use to initiate and sustain a sparkling conversation! Hope this one helps!
Conversation techniquesHolding a conversation is quite a useful skill that some people do naturally but the rest ofus need to work at. Here are some methods and ideas you can use to initiate and sustain asparkling conversation! Opening the conversation: How to get things going. o Ask them easy questions, Ask them about themselves, Check your list Their name: The most important thing you say. o Finding their name, Remembering their name, Using their name Building rapport: Bonding with them. o Active care, Encouraging, Listening Reflecting: Bouncing back what they have said. o Paraphrasing, Parroting, Extrapolating Interrupting: Taking back control so you can speak. o Agreement Interrupt, Body Language Interrupt, Clarification Interrupt Sustaining the conversation: Keeping things going. o Ask their opinion, Concern for the person, Interest in the person Excusing: When things go wrong. o Acceptance, Accident Closing the conversation: How to walk away. o Be negative, Body pointing, Caught short,Opening the conversationHow do you open the persuasive conversation? The first few seconds are terribly critical andthe following interaction contains many moments of truth. Heres a few pointers on how toopen positively. Ask them easy questions: Keep the tough stuff until later. Ask them about themselves: A very powerful technique. Check your list: Be ready to ask and answer. Use environmental triggers: Look for ideas around you. Get to the point: In some conversations, niceties are not nice. Greeting: Get the formal start done well. Introduce yourself: Tell them a bit about you. Say something wrong: So they can correct you. Script the start: Write out the first few words beforehand. Shock and awe: Surprise them with something different. Wit and wisdom: Amaze them with your wit.
Ask them easy questionsDescriptionStart out by asking them questions that are easy for them to answer.A good balance is around two or three closed questions, that have short answers, and thenone open question, where they have to think and talk more. Early on, it is often better evenwith open questions to keep them simple and easy.When doing this, remember to sustain interest in them and what they have to say. Easyquestions can lead to stock answers, but remember that the goal is to get the conversationgoing, not discover what theEasy topics include: The weather (especially in climates where it changes often). Recent news (though be careful about difficult topics that may lead to emotional arousal). Family (siblings, where they live, etc.) History (what school they went to, where they have lived, etc.) Work (what they do, people at work, etc.) Holidays Hobbies and sportsExample Isnt it a great day? Did you get out in the sunshine, today? Did you hear about the accident down town? Isnt it awful? Do you have a brother called Joe? I do like your dress -- where did you get it?DiscussionQuestions are an easy way to open a conversation, especially if you are prepared. If theother person is uncomfortable (and they often are), then questions that are easy for them to
answer is a good way to make them comfortable whilst engaging them (rather than havingthem listen too much to you).Early on, do also remember to stay away from potentially contentious topics unless youdeliberately want to create an impact. Criticizing the Pope, for example, is a not a goodidea if you do not know whether the other person is a Catholic (even conservative non-Catholics may find such a move disturbing).Ask them about themselvesDescriptionAsk them something about themselves.If you do not know their name, then start there.Compliment them about their appearance. Ask them where they got that nice suit, watch,hat or whatever.Comment on their cheery condition, ask them why they are looking a bit down. Say theylook distracted and ask why.Ask if they have family, the names of their children, how old they are, how they are doing inschool and so on.Ask about their occupation, their careers and plans for the future.Ask about hobbies, interests and what they do with their spare time.Pay attention when they give you an answer. Show interest not only in the answer but themas a person as well, possibly evoking a betrayal response.And when they tell you something, show interest in it. Follow up with more questions.Example You look thoughtful. Whats up? What are you going to do this weekend? Thats a lovely jumper, where did you get it?DiscussionThe most interesting person in the world is me. I can talk about myself all day long ifsomebody asks me the right questions and seems to be really interested in what I have tosay.Note that the level of intimacy in the questions depends on the level of relationship. Becareful also with sensitive subjects. If you sense that they are uncomfortable with what youhave asked, apologize as necessary and change the subject.
If you ask questions but do not follow up, then they may conclude that you are not reallylistening and are false in your apparent interest.Check your listDescriptionHave a long list of things you can talk about. Keep it in your wallet and take a peek justbefore you get into a conversation.You can keep a standard list that can be used in any situation.You can have specialized lists, for example chatting up a member of the opposite sex ortalking about technical topics with peers.You can also have one-off lists, for example when you are going to meet somebodyimportant to you, you can spend time beforehand listing things that you can discuss (ormaybe that you want to discuss).Keep building your list. Listen to other people in conversation (including people who talk toyou) and add inspiring ideas to your list.Description A boy is going out with a girl for the first time. He elicits help from friends and his list includes the concert next week, her family and how to dance the salsa (which he has found she is learning). Just before he sees her, he takes a peek at the list to remind himself. A sales person keeps a list of things to ask customers, including informal chat subjects and formal things to remember. She reviews the list in the car before going into talk with the customer.DiscussionIn the pressure that we often feel when starting a conversation it is easy to freeze orotherwise run out of things to say. A list provides an easy way of remembering things tosay or discuss.Just having the list close to you, in a purse or pocket, makes visualization and mentalaccess of the list a little easier.In a business situation it often looks efficient to have the list out in front of you, and tickoff the subjects as you cover them. In a social situation, this would probably look at bit anal.Their Name
In conversation, the name of the other person is one of the most important things toremember and use. It is easy to get this wrong, so this section gives you a number of thingsyou can do and methods you can use. Personal name: The most important thing for them. Finding their name: An important initial task. Remembering their name: Which is easily forgotten! Short name: Be careful about contractions. Using their name: To connect with them.Personal NameDescriptionA persons name is more than an indicator -- it is an embodying symbol that has a highlypersonal relationship with the person. You can be the other side of the room, talking, andthey will not hear anything, but if you mention their name, they will hear it and becomeattentive.It is thus important to find, remember, use and manage the names of the people you meetand especially those who you intend to persuade.DiscussionIn RomeRoman citizens had three names. The nomen was their gens or family name, such as Tulliusand was the equivalent of a surname. The praenomen was the given name and equivalent ofa forename, such as Marcus, and was seldom used on its own. Ordinals were often used,such as Primus or Sextus to indicate birth order. The cognomen was a nickname by whichthe person was known, such as Cicero. Thus the Roman orator Cicero (106 BC – 43 BC) wasthe cognomen of Marcus Tullius.InfluencingAll sales people know that a persons name is one of the most powerful tools of influenceand they will use it carefully, attaching it to key points and when they want particularattention.RememberingIt is remarkably easy to forget a persons name, often because you have used that name inso many different contexts that it has become unattached as a concept. A trickin remembering a persons name is to attach it strongly to the person. Some ways of doingthis include: Make an aural connection. Repeat their name out loud several times soon after you have met the person. This also helps build rapport.
Remember the name as a forename-surname combination. It is actually easier to remember John-Wilkinson than John alone, because John-Wilkinson is far more unique. Use visualization. Imagine the person with their name tattooed on their forehead or otherwise written on them. Use metaphor and analogy. Imagine someone called John sitting on the John. Imagine Mrs. Green as painted green, wearing green clothes.Finding their nameWhen you meet a person or know that you will meet them, and do not know their name,then the first task is to find their name.IntroductionsGet introducedThe most common way to find a persons name, particularly in polite company is to beintroduced by someone else. A formal introduction includes the full name of each personand some biographical detail. In a social situation, this may be something about their familyor where they live. In work, it is most often about their job.Introduce yourselfOne way of asking-without-asking is to introduce yourself. Say your name (and perhaps avery brief biographical item) and then pause. They should then reciprocate with the samedetail. If they do not, you can encourage them with body language such as raising youreyebrows, tilting your head and leaning forward slightly.AskingAsk the personYou can also, of course, ask the person directly, although beware of appearing impolite(Who are you??). Sometimes a few niceties beforehand helps (Hello, isnt it nice here -- Idont think Ive met you before -- could you tell me your name?).Asking them, done well, shows an interest in them, which is a good way of starting to buildrapport. It also shows you as taking the lead. If they follow, then keep leading!If you forget, all is not lost. It is quite common to forget a name (they may have forgottenyours!). In many situations it can actually be quite a strong thing to display vulnerability.Ask someone elseAn easy way is to find their name is to ask another person -- not in front of them, ofcourse. Whos that person over there? is a common surreptitious question.You can also ask a person off-line, for example asking other people in the office about thenew person or calling a target persons secretary. Another trick for finding names is to call
the company and ask for the person by title -- with luck youll get a response somethinglike Ill put you through to Mr. Johnson now....OrLook it upIf you have time, you might find it written down somewhere. At a conference it may be onthe list of attendees. At a meeting it may be on the agenda. And of course, theres themarvelous modern miracle: the internet. Companies often have their officers on the mainwebsite. And if you are inside the company, the whole directory (possibly even withphotographs) may well be at your fingertips.Wait for someone elseAnd of course you can wait for someone else to either ask for their name (which may makeyou look a bit impolite, so get in first if appropriate) or to use their name in conversation.Remembering their nameIt is amazing how quickly you can forget a persons name (and how embarrassing this canbe). It is well worth learning a few tricks to help fix it in your mind.Repeat itOne sales-persons trick is to use their name three times within the first couple of minutes.The first repeat is to repeat it immediately. Hi, my name is Jim. Jim -- Good to meet you.Then find excuses to use the name or just use it in questions or elsewhere. My cousin is called Jim. Are you one of the Berkshire Mongomerys? Jim, can I ask you a question about that?Write itIf you can, writing it down is a good method. This is easier in a meeting, where you maylegitimately write down the names of the people there. This may often be legitimately done,for example if you are running the meeting.Writing it down may seem embarrassing, but it can actually also say that you find the otherperson so important that you must keep their name safe.
You can also get them to write it, for example on an email, request form and so on. Theymay also give it to you written down on a business card (a good way to get their card is togive them your card).Extend itIf you remember the person as Jim then you can easily get confused with other Jims. Youmay also confusing with sound-a-like names, like Tim or Wim. A way around this is toremember the whole name, including forename and surname. Thus remembering JimMontgomery is more unique and hence can be more memorable.See itPlay visual games, for example imagining the person with their name written on theirforehead or hung in a sign around their neck or above their head. Then when you see theperson, you can see the name as well.Another method is to imagine a person you know with the same name standing beside orbehind them.Hear itSometimes visualizing is not enough, and you remember only the shape (It was a four letterword beginning with J...). This can be helped by including the sound in the memory. Youcan support remembering the sound by saying it out loud.Play with itAnother way is to build a story or ridiculous image around the name. We remember thingsthat stand out, so make the name and the face stand out together. Imagine the persondoing something that plays out their name. Make the name itself do something.For example, with Jim Montgomery, you could have him dressed as a burglar, jimmyingopen a window on a house on a mountain (mount) whilst shouting gomery cricket!.Ask about itWhen you hear their name, ask for clarification on such as the spelling of their name (Isthat Isabel with an a or an o?). If the name is unusual, you might first say what a nice orinteresting name it is and ask about its origin.Short nameDescription
Whilst people have given, first names, they are often referred to by a shortened version ofthe name.It is often polite to ask a person what they like to be called. Even if other people call aperson Tom, you might demonstrate respect by asking them if you can call them Tom too.Bottom line: When a person has a name that can be shortened, check which version theyprefer.Example Anthony: Ant, Tony Richard: Rich, Richie Joseph: Joe Elizabeth: Bet, Beth, Betty, Liz, Liza, Eliza Amanda: Mandy Samantha: SamDiscussionThe short name is also called the diminutive and may be used by adults to name a child. Inthis case, having been called this from early life, the person may adopt and accept thecontraction.Children often rebel, however, and the diminutive form may make them feel they are beingtreated as a child and, as an adult, prefer their full name.Sometimes parents use the childs full name only when they are admonishing them(Alexander, come here at once!). In this case the person may continue to prefer theshortened name into adulthood.Sometimes the preferred shortened name is something that the person selects them self,perhaps as an act of asserting control and establishing a separate identity.Use of the short name can be a sign of intimacy and thus may also be associated only withfriends. If a stranger uses the short name they may be considered as being too familiar.Using Their nameUsing a persons name in a conversation is a key trick that most sales people know well.Acknowledging identityUsing the persons name acknowledges their identity, massaging their Ego and henceboosting their self-esteem. Just by recognizing that they exist, you have done them a greatfavor (which of course means they now owe you...).
Use this in particular when you want them to feel good about themselves. You can also linkit with a particular item with which you want them to associate themselves, such as the ideaof which you are trying to persuade them. Can you imagine yourself, Jane, wearing this out tonight? Simon -- you can be saved.Remember that the persons name is a part of who they are. Using their name is likehandling the person, so be careful with it.Grabbing attentionHave you ever been somewhere when a person used your name, perhaps in conversationwith someone else across the other side of the room? A common reaction is to suddenlypay attention. Are they talking about you? Are they trying to get your attention?When the other person is talking and you want to say something but are having difficulty inbreaking into the conversation, saying their name can be an effective way of grabbing thetalking stick. Susan, thats a good point and Id like to add something important...When you are talking to a person and they seem distracted or have otherwise disappearedoff into their own head somewhere, dropping their name into a sentence will effectivelybring them back to a state of attention. ...and when we get to the city, Joe, I think you should be ready to start...An interesting additional phenomenon is that you will sometimes also be able to remembera few things that were said just before your name was mentioned. This is useful toremember when you say a persons name.Formal and informalMany people have formal and informal forms of their name. Thus Michael may well becalled Mike or Mick. The use of the different forms of the name will have a very internaleffect on them, depending on the associations they have.Formal usageVery typically, parents and (even more often) teachers use the formal format of a name.People thus will have an association of obedience with the formal style. The implication ofthis, of course, is that if you want to be obeyed, try using the formal style.Formality may also dictate use of surnames and honorifics. Thus Mr. Jones or Yourworship may be appropriate in various circumstances. Know which is which and be carefulbefore becoming informal.
If in doubt, the formal style is also more respectful. This may well allow you to use itwithout worrying about reaction.It may well be worth being careful, however, as the person may have a rebellious responseagainst parents, and the use of the formal style may cause an adverse reaction (so watchthe response you get carefully).Informal usageThe informal style is typically more casual and friendly. Be careful with this, as usage maybe seen as too presumptuous. One approach is to ask the person what they prefer to becalled, thus gaining permission to use a familiar form (they are unlikely to ask for a formalstyle unless they really do not like the informal style).If you can be seen as friendly, then they may frame you as a friend, which then gives youleeway to ask for favors without having done something for them first.Beware of overdoing itBe careful when using their name. If you use it too much, then you may well appear to beattempting to manipulate them, which is likely to have the reverse effect to that desired. Now, Steve, I want you to think about how you, Steve, could benefit from this. Steve, do you think it would work? If anyone could succeed, Steve, it will be you.Watch them carefully when you use their name: Does it relax them? Do they smile? Or dothey look a little irritated or tense. If it is the latter, lay off the name-calling at least for awhile.Building RapportRapport is a feeling of sympathetic understanding, where two people feela bond between one another, such that they will more easily trust one another. Active Care: Dont wait to be asked. Co-location: Just be nearby. Encouraging: Getting them to speak. Holding Gaze: eye-to-eye attraction. Listening: A powerful method of creating a bond. Mirroring: Direct copying of their actions. Matching: Indirect copying of actions. Open Honesty: Exposing your own vulnerability. Paraphrasing: Rephrasing in your own words. Parroting: Simple repetition of what they say. Passive Care: Do no harm. Reflecting Verbal Style: Use their overall modes of speech.
Reflecting Words: Echo individual words they say.Be Reliable: Deliver on your promises.Seek Advice: Rather than opinion.Synergizing: Combine ideas for an even better idea.Use Their Name: Show you know them.