We connect with other people and we build relationships through conversations. For extroverts, this activity comes naturally, but for introverts, it's a nightmare. Learning to make effective conversation is the foundation for everything else we do in our daily lives.
The magic solution lies in learning how to think differently, for that will change the way you feel. Accept your own unique personality and temperament and develop it, rather than trying to change it, or to model it on someone else's. When we are able to be ourselves, we have the potential for making dynamic conversation. "We humans almost always seem dissatisfied with who we are....if we persist in trying to be someone other than the person we were born to be, we rob ourselves - and the world - of the most valuable asset we have: our uniqueness. That's the one thing that will make us more effective in making conversation than anything else." Mike Bechtle
Feeling at ease and confident when engaging in conversation, is a skill that can easily be learnt. The key is to genuinely care about, and to be interested in, not only the other person, but also in what they have to say. People remember you not for what you say, but for how you made them feel. Be a good listener and observe the other person closely. Preparation is crucial - you might decide to have a few generic questions ready before attending an event (using words such as: Why; Who; When; Where and How). Be curious. It really does help to know a little about a lot (it is a good idea to be well informed on local and international news as well as sport). Rather than worrying about how a conversation is progressing, concentrate on what the other person knows that you don't. Everyone is an expert in some field. Aim to discover what that special talent is.
If you are plagued by feelings of anxiety, begin by acknowledging it as a normal emotion. Be well prepared, breathe deeply 5-6 times before entering the venue, and speak slowly, taking a sip of water if necessary. Try to focus more on the other person than on how you are feeling.
Be realistic. Start slowly, be patient and try to enjoy the ride. Work within your comfort zone and gradually extend your boundaries. Practise. Practise. Practise. Anything worthwhile requires considerable effort. Soon you will feel more confident and your discomfort will disappear.
What about the conversations we have on social media, I hear you ask. Since only a very small percentage (7% in fact) of our communication comes from our spoken words (the balance comes from the tone of our words and our body language), it is advisable to balance social media interactions with face to face meetings, in order to form an accurate assessment of that person.
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