5 Ways To Have Better Conversations (Even If You're Nervous Or Shy)
written by regular contributor, catherine beard
Many of us feel unsatisfied with surface-level conversations.
We desire to go deeper, yet we fear that we will come across as nosy or intrusive if we ask too many questions. Sometimes we're simply too nervous to ask the deeper questions because it can feel uncomfortable or unnatural.
The way I see it, there's so much to learn from others. The stories, thoughts, and beliefs of other human beings allow us to discover more about the world and ourselves. But how do we have deep and meaningful conversations with others, especially those we've just met? How do we go beyond the surface-level and really connect with others?
Anyone can have deep and meaningful conversations, you just have to rethink the way you approach conversations and interactions with others. Here are five ways to improve your conversations with others so that you can have more meaningful discussions with people.
Become genuinely interested in others
When you're talking to someone, approach the conversation assuming that you have something new to learn. Everybody you meet knows something you don't, and your goal is to figure out what that thing is. You don't even have to be interested in a topic they start talking about; rather, you want to know what makes the topic interesting to them. You can also create depth in a conversation by asking about their thoughts, feelings, uncertainties, or motivations around a particular topic. Ask as many open-ended questions as you can to avoid conversations coming to a halt. For example: What about that interests you? How do you feel about this topic? Why do you think you are drawn to this topic?
Make them feel comfortable
Shift the focus away from you and ask yourself how you can make the person feel comfortable. Make them feel special and listened to. If you're not sure how to do this, think about what makes you comfortable when you're talking to someone. It could be through tone of voice, body language, eye contact, the types of questions asked, etc. Let the other person know that you're interested in what they're saying by keeping the focus on them and not multi-tasking (aka looking at your phone every five seconds).
Practice active listening
Active listening is all about staying present with the conversation and the person we're interacting with. Many times during conversation, we're thinking too much about how the other person perceives us. We focus on ourselves and wonder what they're thinking of us or what we look like, but really we should be wondering about them. If you stay curious and aim to learn more about people beyond the surface level, you take the focus away from yourself. Shift your attention to the present moment and what's happening in the conversation, rather than thinking about what you're going to say next or whether you're coming across as awkward.
Add value to the conversation
If you're worried that you'll come across as boring if you aren't the most talkative person in the room, ask yourself how you can add value to the conversation. What do you know that you could potentially teach someone? After all, there are many things someone could learn from you. Think about what you're passionate about, what life has taught you, and what makes you unique. It's also important to remember that you won't always click with people - and that's okay. You also don't have to force yourself to say something if it doesn't come naturally. Just remember that it's more important to feel comfortable and be yourself than it is to impress people.
Smile and use their name
No matter who you're talking to, a smile can be even more powerful than words. A smile creates a sense of approachability and warmth which can make other people feel comfortable in your presence. Another way to improve your connection with another person is to use their name often during conversation. Using their name shows that you paid attention when they introduced themselves, and it can also make the relationship feel more personal since you're putting the focus on them and only them.
Catherine Beard is the blogger behind The Blissful Mind which helps others find contentment in their daily lives through mindfulness, self-care, and healthy lifestyle tips. She is also pursuing her Master's degree in Health & Wellness Coaching. You'll find her drinking peppermint tea, exploring the Pacific Northwest, and watching Parks & Recreation for the millionth time.