How to Improve Conversation Skills – 9 Top Tips

improve social skillsWhat do these all have in common?

  • Soul shaking life experiences
  • Lucrative new opportunities
  • A flood of friendships

They’re all things you get less of because of poor conversation skills. The ability to start conversations confidently and talk comfortably gets you more from life than just about any other skill.

But how do you improve conversation skills?

Well, I’ve actually searched and tested for 10+ years to find the answer to that question for myself. What I found was a mix of the obvious as well as principles most people overlook.

Here are the top 9 tips I discovered:

1. Raise Your Self-Esteem

From my own experience and that of helping my readers, I’ve discovered many social skills issues stem from a low sense of self-worth. Deep down, you feel others are better or you’re just not enough. Maybe you don’t feel your life is on the right track.

This causes your conversations to suffer before they begin. You fear letting people know you assuming they won’t like you (since YOU don’t fully like you either). By creating a life you love and appreciating your uniqueness, a natural barrier to rejection forms.
How to confidently talk and make friends - especially if you're shy

2. Hold Confident/Open Body Language

Good body language makes you appear self-assured to others, and gets you feeling that way too. Stand erect. Hold your head up and have good eye contact. Smile a bit.

Also, signal you’re open and approachable by unfolding your arms and relaxing your hands. Actually, in my opinion here’s the best body language tip ever.

3. Practice Self-Disclosure

A core component of good communication skills and making friends is connecting. You do this by letting them get to know you and vice versa.

But, if you don’t talk about yourself at all, the friendship fizzles. By disclosing your life facts, opinions and feelings, you have more to talk about AND you form lasting bonds.

4. Grow in Self-Knowledge

I call my site Conversation Skills Core because developing the core of who you are is vital to social success. As mentioned above in Self-Disclosure, people form friendships (and flowing conversations) by getting to know each other.

So if you don’t know who you are, you can’t truly connect. You won’t get across what you’re about to others. That’s why it’s important to have a firm grasp on your strengths, weaknesses, opinions, interests, etc.

5. Brush Up on Basic Conversation Etiquette

By having an understanding of basics like how to start a conversation and how to keep a conversation going, you gain confidence. That little bit extra assurance will get you into more social interactions. And as they say, practice makes perfect.

In fact, you can read through my conversation 101 mini-course for free by clicking here.

6. Be Mindful

Being in the present moment is one of the most important traits of improving social skills. By paying attention to what’s going on, you catch details you can use.

Is the person wearing an interesting piece of clothing? Was that a strange tone of voice while talking about their roommate? This is all information you can use to expand the conversation

7. Know Some Current Topics

Having a topic or two in mind can help when you’re running low on things to say. So pop online to see what’s happening in the news. Good topics are usually light (not politics, religion, etc.) and either funny or opinion provoking.

In fact, every Friday in my Conversation Topics posts, I handpick recent news stories great for conversation.

8. Manage Your Limiting Beliefs

“If I go talk to that person I’d be bothering them.” “I always mess up when I try to start a conversation with someone new.” Many of us have irrational beliefs that prevent us from being confident in conversation.

Become aware of your negative beliefs and challenge them regularly to gain control.

9. Be More Social

To get better you need to get out there, consistently practice conversation skills, make mistakes and learn from them. There is no other way.

Conversation secrets to make people like you and become popularMany people resist this because they see “naturals” and think, well, social success should be natural. They think they shouldn’t have to work at it.

Here’s the thing. Those “naturals” weren’t born that way. Sure, some are naturally more outgoing, but they still had to learn the ins and outs of being social. But, by the luck of the draw, they learned while growing up. We didn’t. So that means you need to catch up by being more social now.

Through practice and consistently putting the above principles into action, you’ll eventually improve your conversation skills.

As Benjamin Franklin said:

“Energy and persistence conquer all things.”

And hey, conquering your tendency to be quiet when you’d rather talk can make a massive difference in your life quality. It’ll help you stop missing out so you can get the most from your life.

If you’d like to get started today, check out my free video series and newsletter on improving conversation skills.

It’ll help you understand why you’re quiet when you don’t want to be and give you solid techniques to be more outgoing and more confident.

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Comments

  1. sharon gibbs says:

    My son is 17 and very high functioning autistic. Would this be helpful for him as he used to be more confident but has since lost all of his friendship groups and as such has not been conversing very much with anybody. He is very awkward socially and when anyone asks him a question he looks uncomfortable.

    He is going to university soon and I think he really needs to practise conversation skills before if he is to make meaningful friendships.

    Thank you

    • Dean J says:

      Sharon,

      Well, my short answer is yes…I think it can help. But I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not a professional therapist or overly knowledgable about autism or asperger’s. I haven’t experienced first hand what your son is experiencing. At least, not for the same reasons. My social awkwardness was due to shyness caused by low self-esteem and poor social skills.

      It sounds like he has done well socially in the past and had “friendship groups,” so it doesn’t seem like he has that far to go to get back in the social game. My advice would be for him to gradually try to use better conversation skills. One problem I notice people make over and over again when trying to improve is they do it all at once. They try to keep all these “techniques” of starting conversations, keeping them going, etc. in their head and use them every time they talk. But that’s too much to worry about at once and it usually backfires. It causes the person to be less effective.

      So, maybe if your son would just practice keeping conversations going better for a while with current family and friends. And JUST work on that. (I have some suggestions on how to do that and other skills here http://conversation-skills-core.com/conversation-skills-101). I find that once a person feels confident they can keep conversations going, they are a little less anxious socially in general.

      But from what I do know about high functioning autism, he may need a little guidance from family and friends to better understand social cues. As social problems come up for him (and depending on how openly he communicates with you and family), it may help to give advice since he may not be able to clearly see the issues himself.

      Finally, I’ll say that all of the suggestions in the above post can help. Especially the ones involving self-esteem. Make sure your son is aware of his strengths and unique talents. For each of us, those can be hard to see unless we do some digging or others we trust point them out to us. And as far as self-esteem is involved, that can be tough too…we tend to only focus on the strengths and talents we DON’T have right? We’re not social and popular like those people are. We’re not rich or beautiful or witty…whatever. Thing is, those qualities are only a small sample of the limitless skills someone can have. So, make sure you son knows his unique talents and understands how valuable they are. No one else in the world has his mix of talents, strengths and person experience. So no one else can do what he can do, and how he can do it.

      Well, I feel like I rambled a bit here, but I hope this helps some. Here are some links you might find useful:

      High-Functioning Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome – http://www.webmd.com/brain/autism/high-functioning-autism – Good general information about high-functioning autism
      Strengths Finder – http://www.strengthsfinder.com/home.aspx – online test and ebook to help determine unique strengths and how to build on them

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