Enjoying College Life: Tips In Making Each Conversation More Meaningful and EngagingBy Beth Golden, UniversityHerald Reporter
Getting people to share a few words with you is an important skill we all need to master. Those few minutes of small talk offers us a time to establish great connections and set the stage for another engagement - an interview, a business meeting or an important introduction that can help our careers or the business we want to build. It all starts with a little conversation.
Such conversations can also lead us to thinking deeper and getting a better insight on simple things: like how we could have written our paper differently or which area we should do our research in or the next book we should read or city we could visit for a short vacation. Again, this all starts with a little conversation.
The university offers us a great community of people we can talk to apart from our friends and professors. There are other students taking up different majors, educators from different departments, the smart guys, the athletes, the popular campus darlings or even random people that lives on the same building with you or that guy or girl you shared your table with when you ate in the dining hall.
Talking to different personalities not only gives you a chance to build your network of connections and offer a fresh perspective, it can also lead you to meeting new friends and mentors along the way.
So how do you become better at conversations? Well, for starters, practice. Make a conscious effort to talk to someone with the intention of making the conversation worth both your while.
Anchor on a common interest
This is perhaps the simplest cue on how to start the conversation with someone. If you're both attending the same sports event, ask about how they think the game will go or if they are fans of a certain player or team. If you see them in class, ask about their majors or if you see them in the same building just approach them and ask if they live there too or if they are looking or someone.
Having the same interests make it easier for someone to open up because there is some kind of connection. Of course, also be interested in learning more about the other person instead of just telling them about yourself.
Be friendly and polite and stay open
Once you have the other person talking with you, keep the conversation going by being friendly and mindful of your manners. While your closest friends, roommate or sibling are used to some of your gestures and expressions, this new acquaintance you've just engage is unaware of them. Be careful with your gestures and instinct because others might find them a turn off.
Also stay open to the other person's ideas. You don't have to accept or reject them. Just listen and try to understand why the other person thinks so and respect their views and preferences.
One skill good conversationalists have is the ability to disagree without being disagreeable.
Don't over think, just listen and ask if you need to
Most of us fall in the trap that we need to say something intelligent or nice to what the other person just told us but there's a greater chance that they are not expecting you to say anything and they just indulge that you were willing to listen.
If you want to ask or be clear on something, just politely do so. If they would make the effort to tell someone who will listen then are more than likely to exert the effort to explain and help you understand.
Be mindful of their time and watch out for segues and cues
Finally, always remember to check the other person's reactions and nonverbal communication - meaning their body language. Look out if you've already taken much of their time or have lost their interest. If they have, thank them for their time and politely end the conversation.
On the other hand, if you're the one who is not interested in having the conversation, don't be rude. At least find out if there's something you can do for the other person before making your exit.
Conversations are crucial because it reveals who you are to the person you're talking to. Your reactions, how you listen and react verbally or with your actions show them more better than you can tell.