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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

EwR Speaking - Master Conversation Skills in English (Step 4 of 4)

English with Raymond's
Fourth of Four Steps
to Master Conversation Skills in English

Many students, who are learning English as a second language, feel that their greatest deficiency in using the language is with conversation skills. Here is the fourth of four fundamental characteristics of good conversation skills that can help you be a better listener, as well as a better speaker, during a conversation with someone else.


People like to feel good when having a conversation with someone else, so help them do that.

In order to make someone feel good while talking with you, it is important to consider the following. Be likeable instead of sounding so overly competent. Don’t try to impress your conversation partner with flattery in order to help him/her feel good during the conversation. Try and be sincere with your words, and ask for advice when you really need it.

Would you rather have a conversation with a delightful simpleton or a competent imbecile? Regardless of what you think most people might choose, research shows that personal feelings play an important role when having a conversation with someone. If someone is dislikeable, it doesn’t matter if s/he is incompetent in order to have a conversation together. What matters more is that the person is likeable, even if s/he is somewhat simple-minded. Therefore, if you want to make your conversation partner feel good, it is more important for you to be likeable rather than totally competent. This might sound strange at first, but simply put, try and be pleasant with your listener instead of trying to demonstrate your intellectual competency. People don’t mind talking to someone who isn’t a know-it-all, especially if s/he is delightful to be with. Good feelings are an important factor in order to master conversation skills. Help the other person to feel good and relaxed during the conversation.

It isn’t necessary to constantly compliment and praise someone in order to make him/her feel good. People are not ignorant to the fact when someone is using flattery in order to get what s/he wants. Therefore, don’t flatter your conversation partner in order to make him/her like you and feel good talking to you. It won’t work. Too much flattery will only help you destroy a conversation. Dale Carnegie listed six ways to make people like you: (1) become genuinely interested in the other person, (2) smile, (3) remember that a person’s name is the sweetest and most important sound to that person, (4) be a good listener and encourage others to talk about themselves, (5) talk in terms of the other person’s interests, and (6) make the other person feel important, but do so sincerely. People feel good talking to someone they get to like, even if it means liking that person just a little bit.

Even if someone doesn’t like you, it is possible to win his/her respect by giving honest compliments and asking for sincere advice. If you try to be unbiased and unprejudiced during the conversation, your conversation partner will probably find some of your qualities that s/he appreciates. Therefore, don’t hesitate to be positive and compliment the other person in order to help him/her change the original perception that s/he had of you. Futhermore, ask for the listener’s advice, whether it be personal or professional. In this way, you are establishing a commitment with your partner in order to demonstrate your sincerity. Pay attention and be genuinely interested in what s/he has to say. The other person will begin to feel good, and probably will even draw better conclusions about you.

Hence, if you help to make your listening partner feel good while speaking to you, it is possible to succeed and master a conversation with him/her. The skills mentioned above will help you accomplish this task. Remember that people like to feel good when having a conversation with someone else.

Written by Raymond Bevilacqua, ENGLISH with RAYMOND©, December 2014

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