The Art Of Conversation: Avoid Awkward Silence

I love conversation. I’m extremely good at it. Whether it’s about politics, fashion, celebrities, religion, film, theatre, even the weather, I’ve got something to say. Years of practising the art of conversation have turned me into (if I do say so myself) a sensational silver-tongue. It’s a gift and a curse. This is, by and large, owing to a personality that is naturally uninhibited. I am not generally worried about being thrown into the social stratosphere, and can talk my way out of pretty much everything.

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However, not everybody has the blind (and often idiotic) drive to do this. Most people are more reserved than I am, and as such may run into trouble when they reach a speed bump in a conversation. These speed bumps, in the form of awkward silences, static laughter, and avoiding each other’s eyes, can arise at any time. They usually form at the most inconvenient moments; job interviews, first dates, the inaugural meeting with your significant other’s parents, etc.

If left unchecked, allowing awkward moments to flourish becomes a habit that is difficult to break. Never underestimate the value of a flowing conversation; it puts people at ease around you and helps create a great first impression. If you are not a naturally outgoing or confident person, the art of conversation can be terrifyingly difficult and seemingly impossible to master. However, there are certain ways to fan the flames of conversation in any situation; it’s all about paying attention. Here are three key tricks to smooth over those bumps in the road from a self-confessed super-conversationalist:

1. Ask questions

This may seem banal, but it is the key to all conversation. If you have run out of things to talk about, or want to start a dialogue with someone, simply ask them questions about, well, themselves. After all, this is the topic that people are most comfortable with because they are most familiar with it. Once you’ve got them talking, you will see them relax, and the rest of the conversation will begin to flow naturally. Showing a lot of genuine interest always helps as well.

2. Avoid contentious topics

I know it’s tempting to voice your opinion on the latest political debate, or what’s going on with the stock market, or what’s happening in the Middle East, but my advice is to keep your mouth shut – especially if you don’t know your conversation buddies very well. Unless you’re all of exactly the same opinion (which is rare), someone’s gears are going to get a grinding. This, understandably, leads to tension, which can be very difficult to diffuse depending on the flexibility of the people involved. Unless you are besties with everyone in the group, or you’re in an arena where this kind of debate is encouraged, steer clear. When in doubt, restrict your remarks to the weather.

3. Laugh a lot

It doesn’t matter if your conversation partner has made a joke that’s lamer than the fact that Zayn left One Direction, if you want to keep the chatter going laugh at it. Laugh loudly. It could be the least funny joke on the planet, but if you make them feel like they’re amusing you, they will relax. You’ll give them confidence and encourage them to open up more. Who knows? Perhaps they’ll start making some genuine funnies when they feel the pressure’s off.

All in all, the art of good conversation isn’t difficult if you practise it. It’s about trusting your own appeal; exuding quiet confidence (even if you’re faking it) is a great way to put people at ease. Remember those three tricks and awkward blurps in your daily chatter will be a thing of the past!

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September 1, 2015

The Ultimate Relationship Skill For Better Sex

Want better sex and a better relationship? It’s easy. Plus, the beauty is if you learn this skill, your partner will too. Surely, that’s worth a couple of minutes of your time. Sometimes life gets in the way of connecting with your partner. The best way to connect better in the bedroom is to connect better out of it. It’s a fact that couples who communicate, respect and understand each other, have better sex and weather the toughest storms; plus they have a much stronger chance of remaining together over time. They develop a deeper intimacy and consider one another their best friend.

It all comes down to one exceptionally vital skill: listening. When you take the time to really listen to your partner, they will feel loved, acknowledged, appreciated, respected and understood. This is the foundation of a great relationship and even better sexThe importance of listening can’t be emphasised enough. It really is the ultimate relationship skill. The experts refer to this technique as active listening. There is quite a lot involved in this technique, however, if you follow these simple rules, you will be well on your way to securing a better relationship.

Make time to talk to each other

If you need to discuss something important, arrange a time when you are both physically and emotionally available. Having a deep and meaningful conversation on the spur of the moment is a recipe for an argument – especially if it’s about an issue which is affecting the relationship.

When you set a specific time to talk, limit the distractions. Turn of the TV, mobile phones and set the scene like you would for a romantic evening. Alternately, talking in a setting like the car can be another option. Although there are some distractions, such as traffic or children, it is a micro-environment, which is excellent for discussing everyday issues.

Give each other your attention and display it

It doesn’t matter if it’s a little thing like what to pick up from the shops or something much bigger. When you are listening, acknowledge it by nodding or other appropriate body language or verbal comments, such as “OK”, “I hear what you’re saying” or “I didn’t know you felt like that”. This displays respect and understanding.

When to speak…

Some people can switch off mid conversation, when they assume they know what their partner is going to say next. Try and have an open mind and wait until they finish speaking before you come to any conclusions. If you disagree, wait until they have finished. Don’t interrupt with your opinion or your experience and give them opportunity for them to to be heard.

This increases understanding, respect and intimacy. If you find you have trouble being heard in your relationship; this is a key exercise. Model the behaviour and next time your partner interrupts you, explain that you have been giving them the opportunity to speak, without interjecting, and therefore you would appreciate the same consideration.

It may take a while to change a behaviour, so be patient with your partner and yourself. Try to be aware of the tone you use. This can trigger an argument if your partner feels you are not genuine or are attacking them. Sometimes, it’s not the words which hurt, but the way we say them. Treat your partner as your best friend and that’s exactly what they will become.


By Kim Chartres

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August 2, 2014