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Ten Common Conversation Mistakes

Henrik Edberg says that you shouldn’t make a habit of committing these 10 conversation mistakes.

1. Not Listening

Many people mistake conversing as talking. Talking’s just half of it; the other half is listening. Another mistake is to think that listening is simply “not talking.” Well, it’s not it, either.  Instead of thinking what to put forth after the other person is done talking, take time to really listen. Avoid questions that are easily answerable by “yes” or “no.” Ask questions that will encourage the other person to think about the subject deeper.

2. Making the Conversation Sound Like a Third-Degree Interrogation

Alternately, ask questions and share ideas. Let the exchange of ideas flow naturally. Ask questions but don’t be too intrusive.

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3. Clamming Up

When you run out of ideas for small talk, relax. Think about the current news, or the latest Yahoo news. If you work in the same place or go to the same school, talk about the new policies and ask the other person about their opinion. Pick up from there.

4. Not Delivering Effectively

It’s not only what you say, it’s how you say it. When you’re excited about a topic, you tend to talk fast. Slow down. As you talk, look at the other person and assess how they pick up your story. Say what you think, but be careful how you say it. To emphasize a point, you sometimes need to pause. Avoid monotony in your voice. Express with appropriate emotion and emphasis. Improve body language to go with your delivery, but don’t overdo it.

5. Monopolizing the Stage

It’s a two-way street, so remember to give the other person an equal chance to talk. Don’t beat him to his punch line.

6. Having To Be Right

It’s natural to make your point clear when having discussions. Conversations shouldn’t always sound like discussions, though. Even in discussions, you can’t be right every time on every topic. If every conversation for you is an opportunity to “win” in discussions, there’s something wrong.

7. Talking Negatively

There’s a place for negative topics, and it’s not at parties. Learn to know the appropriate place or crowd for certain subjects. If you just met the person, steer clear of subjects like your lousy boss, a relationship gone sour, or the bad things about a particular religion.

8. Pursuing a Boring Subject

You may be excited about your new car, but 30 minutes of incessant yakking about it will bore your listeners. When people’s eyes begin to avoid yours, drop the subject. They’re looking for the exit sign.

9. One-Liners

Reach out and respond. Share your thoughts. A grunt or a monosyllabic response is not a response at all. A response tells the other person that you’re interested in carrying out the conversation. Again, it’s a two-way street.

10. Not Investing in the Conversation

Invest in the conversation as much as the other person does. This involves learning and widening your world. You can’t give what you don’t have. Read a lot, be interested in what’s going on, and try to listen to other people’s views even if their views are opposed to yours.

It may sound all too much and all too soon, but you can start with three areas which you think need improvement the most. Work at them for a start.

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