The Art of Conversation
A great experience is one of the motives for blogging. This one is about the art of conversation.
I recently hosted an impromptu lunch for the mom of one of Catherine’s friends from preschool. It is important to know that this mom and I are brand new acquaintances because both our girls just started attending the same school in September. Our kiddos quickly bonded and she emailed me to arrange a playdate, which turned into lunch. While our girls were playing, we started chatting and the next thing I knew, over an hour had flown by.
When they left, I remember thinking about how effortless and easy it was to be with her. We talked about a lot of different things, it wasn’t just about the most obvious thing that we have in common (our children). Our conversation weaved, one topic seamlessly flowed into the next and there was a comfort level that felt like we’d known each other forever. Even though we were virtually strangers, I realized that we were able to talk so easily because she has learned the art of conversation.
On the total opposite end of the spectrum, I have a long-time girlfriend who is completely oblivious about the art of the conversation. Despite the fact that we’ve known each other for many years and share a history, it feels like a struggle to keep a conversation going. The effort to strike up a conversation rests with me and it usually involves me asking all the questions. It is very one-sided, but it doesn’t matter to me at all. Even though our conversation does not flow naturally, I still really enjoy her company.
The quality that exists in one person and not in another got me thinking about the key elements that make up a good conversationalist.
- Start with open-ended questions (I’ve included a list below). These are questions that should naturally lead to other questions.
- After you have asked a question or been asked a question, the next step is to turn it around. What about you?” (then ask the same question back)
- Learn how to listen. A good listener will be able to continue a conversation on the same topic by asking follow-up questions or offering their point of view and/or real-life experiences. It all comes down to giving and taking and establishing an equal exchange.
Here are some questions that could lead to the art of conversation without someone even realizing it. Having some of these questions in your back pocket are helpful when traveling with a co-worker, if you are on a first-date, or with your teenager who has decided to clam up.
- How was your day?
- If you could go back in time and change anything, what would it be?
- What’s one of your favorite memories?
- If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be and why? A follow-up question could be, where would you have dinner?
- What advice do you wish you’d received about going to college/starting a new job? A follow-up question could be, what was your first job?
- What’s your best beauty tip?
- What beauty product do you buy over and over again?
- What’s your most embarrassing moment?
- Where is your hometown?
- What has been your greatest accomplishment so far?
- What’s your story? (good first date question)
- What’s something you’re passionate about?
- What’s a hobby you’d like to pursue more if you had the opportunity?
- Where are your favorite places you’ve traveled to & why? A follow-up question could be, would you go back again?
- What’s something you’ve learned recently?
- If you could pick any career, what would you do?
- What’s your biggest pet peeve?
- What were you like when you were (pick an age)?
- Who is your best friend?
- What quality do you look for in a partner?
- If you had to eat the same meal everyday, what would it be?
- What’s your favorite candy?
- If you were stranded on a desert island, who would you want with you and why?
- Are you good in emergency situations, why or why not?
- Do you have a special human trick? This is something unique that a person can do with their body. Trust me, everyone has something cool.
Did you find yourself answering any of these questions in your head?