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The art of conversations – Habits that build connections

For almost every aspect of life, the art of conversation plays a crucial role and, if done correctly, will be a valuable skill to harness. Conversations can bring you closer to influential people, communities, partners, and friends. You will likely find that you have a harder time building a social circle, starting a business, or advancing your career if you struggle to speak to people. The hardest part is getting started. Below, we have created a guide for you with 5 tips and tricks that our experts suggest you regularly use in conversation to help build these relationships. Master these talking points, and you will find that you will never need to worry about talking to someone again. 

1 – Ask lots of questions

If you desire meaningful dialogue with others, then you should make an effort to ask them questions. However, be aware that not all questions are equal in terms of their likeability. For example, it is far better to use questions that require expanding on a previous point of conversation rather than switching between topics. Even worse still is simply repeating back questions that somebody in the same conversation has already asked you. In a study conducted at Georgetown University, researchers found that the rate at which people asked questions often determined their likeability (Huang et al, 2017)1. Participants on the higher end of the asking question scale were reported by their partners more positively than participants on the lower end of the scale (Huang et al, 2017). Indeed, researchers of another study found that the number of questions asked by a participant at a speed-dating event could often predict their success in securing another meeting (Robson, 2021)2. Importantly, research suggests that most people fail to utilise the power of question-asking to their advantage. It seems that if we all spent less time talking and a little more time listening, then maybe we would connect with people at a quicker rate than we would expect.  

2 – Beware of your own bias at play

We have all heard of the expression: “place yourself in someone else’s shoes”, but this is rarely an accurate perception of how the other person is feeling. According to Professor Epley, a behavioural scientist at the University of Chicago, one reason is that people tend to use their own experience to proxy for how someone else is feeling (Robson, 2021). This can at times harm a relationship you have with someone, especially if you are closer to that person. Studies reveal that where we perceive close friends and partners to be like us, so we are at risk of making assumptions about what the other person is thinking and feeling, based on our existing knowledge of them (Savitsky et al, 2021)3. So next time you are in conversation with someone – check that you have the same understanding of the topic by following the first tip and asking questions.  

3 – How to decide on a topic

Always pick topics that lean on shared experience over originality. This is because gaps in our knowledge about a new subject can lead to confusion from the listener or awkward pauses, known as the novelty penalty (Cooney et al, 2017)4. Instead, it is recommended that when speaking to people, try to cover a topic already familiar to both audiences so that the listeners can fill in those gaps of knowledge for themselves. If you want to talk about a new topic, make sure it can be relatable for the audience or that the information has been fine-tuned for listeners.

4 – Don’t be afraid to open up

The best way to connect with people is to go deeper than the mundane. Research shows that most people are interested in talking about shared human experiences, even with strangers (Kardas et al, 2021)5. Plus, the nature of these exchanges can be very touching – this is because these types of conversations allow one another access to each other’s minds.

5 – Honesty is the best policy

Research has shown that honesty with a good pinch of diplomacy tends to work the best for people in conversation (Robson, 2021). So, next time you are about to make a comment, think carefully about the timing of your words, the way they are phrased and whether the person will have the opportunity to make use of the information you are about to tell them.

To summarise

Always remain conscious of how the other person is reacting. It is crucial to step away from the conversation when it is not welcomed or see that someone is becoming uncomfortable with it. But practice these five steps, and hopefully, with a bit of tact, sensitivity and a genuine interest in the people around you, you will never find that conversation is unwelcomed, but instead, that greater social connection is easily within your reach.   

PANDEK COACHING is here for you  

If you struggle with confidence and connecting with people, we are here to make the process easier for you. As Coaches, we also assist individuals with personal development struggles, such as self-empowerment and happiness. We believe that everything a client needs is already within their reach, but sometimes they need to be guided and supported for a brief time to gain a fresh perspective. This coaching process helps clients rebuild their confidence by realizing their key strengths and talents and setting sustainable goals.  

For inquiries, please email us at [email protected] or   

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