Improving Your Conversational Skills

management leadership


At work, great communicators have an advantage. They know how to have great conversations. Personality helps, but this is a skill that anyone can learn. Here I explore a few tips to improve your conversational skills.

  • Talk slowly: if you are like me, you will tend to speak faster than you should, particularly when you have a lot to say. Typically, good talkers do not rush into a conversation. Take your time to think. You will be perceived as calmer and more centred. And you will help the other person “pace” their dialog too.

  • Focus on the conversation at hand: do not multitask! You will hear the message more clearly when you focus only on the conversation. This shows respect, and when you give them undivided attention, they will respect you more as well.

  • Do not bring up controversial topics: there is a time and place for everything, but in general, your workplace is not good for controversy. Religion and politics are the most common ones. Even if you have strong views on particular issues, your goal is to respect everyone’s different points of view. This kind of topics are best discussed with friends outside work.

  • Pay attention to nonverbal communication: for example, eye contact shows respect, nodding shows comprehension, facing them directly shows attention and focus, and leaning in demonstrates interest. Even when you are not speaking, your body language says a lot.

  • Make the other person feel comfortable and confident: use positive questions to show interest and allow them to share their thoughts and expertise. Give them the opportunity to feel like an expert and explain what they have in mind.

  • Stay positive even when you disagree: you could choose not to respond to their comment, but as a minimum be respectful. If someone is moaning about someone else in front of you, you might say that you are not sure you see the issue the same way, and focus on how to move forward. That way, even if you do not agree, you were not offensive to them either.

I hope this tips will help you take your conversation skills to the next level.