As a young girl studying communications, I find the whole conversing idea very intriguing. Don’t close the page!!! I’m not about to go all straight-jacket professional on you considering I’m a yuppie baby girl (as usual). I’ll just share with you tips I’ve learned from reading academic and random books because conversations are a big deal. Both the spoken and the unspoken.

Dearly beloved, don’t leave it up to the a person to do the talking to you. If they’re shy, you may wait forever! Instead, seize the opportunity that comes your way to break the ice.

Top Tip: Try using a question which invites a response from the person. You don’t have to be outrageously witty or amusing. For instance, if you were to be on a bank queue, you can start with questions like, ‘Bit crowded in here today, isn’t it?’ or random statement questions like ‘Such a lovely dress, where did you get it?’ – All are fine conversation starters.

If the person answers with a word or two, they’re most likely not interested or not in the mood. Although sometimes you can get someone in the mood to talk with you, don’t stress it. Don’t go on. They might get very uncomfortable and you will become a pet peeve in itself. However, if they’re interested, they’ll grab the chance to have a chat.

Once that chance is “grabbbed” by the person, all you have to do is follow these:

1. Do  not hog ( keep to oneself, dominate, take over, control) the conversation. This means not allowing the person you’re talking with get a word in. It’s not only a turn off but it doesn’t show ethics.

2. To keep the conversation flowing, ask the person you’re talking with their likes and dislikes. Just as I said earlier, use open questions that invite a response. You can ask open questions like,  ‘what kind of foods do you like?’ rather than closed questions that invite a yes/no answer, such as ‘do you like Chinese food?’. Open questions usually begin with what, where, when, how or why.

3. Be a good listener. Use body language such as nodding, smiling, responsive facial expressions and leaning forward, together with good verbal feedback signals such as ‘yeah’, ‘mm-hmm, really’ and ‘u-huh’. This is to show interest and encourage the person to keep talking.

4. Do not be afraid to say if you don’t know what the person is talking about. If you pretend you’ve seen a certain movie/read a certain book/heard a certain song and you haven’t, you’ll almost certainly come a cropper and will end up looking a prat.

5. Pay attention to what the person is saying, but do not be so mesmerized that you fail to realize when it’s your turn in the conversation.

6. Do not be too negative. Talking too much about your own problems or the sorry state of whatever and blah blah blah is going on. The person may be put off and totally uninterested.

7. Do not be over funny or over smart. If you’re constantly cracking gags or correcting the person, the person may eventually feel they can’t compete and believe me, that conversation will be as good as done.

8. Do not ask potentially embarrassing questions such as, ‘how did you get so fat?’. This is unaccepted and most times upsetting especially when the person in question is someone you’re meeting for the first time.

9. Pay genuine, unflowery compliments such as ‘I like your jeans’ or ‘great phone you got there’. This actually brightens people up and keeps them engaged longer in the conversation.

10. Do not be afraid to ask for the person’s number or to give the person your number if they ask for it (most times, this only tells they enjoyed the conversation). This applies to even if you met the person off the internet.

TOPEST TIP: Please, please and please do a breath check before you even  yawn near the person, much less talk. Biko, e jo, mbok, s’il vous plaît, bitte, por favor, don’t kill a conversation before it’s even born.

A great conversation can lead to great things. It could land you a good job or a good date *wink*

Lol okay, sometimes I tell you not to believe most things you read online. For real, don’t. 

But this one my friend, you must believe!

I dare you to keep it in mind and give it a conscious try.


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Inspired by Cathy Hopkins (June 2008).



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