In the last couple of years I have written a lot of articles and a special report to tell people how they can improve their small talk and conversations skills.
Quite often, I get compliments from people who tell me that my articles on making conversation have helped them a lot. However, I also get a lot of complaints from people about my articles on making conversation.
The main complaints I get about my conversation articles goes something like this: I read this article about conversation because I thought it was going to tell me exactly what to say to people. Now I am disappointed because the author didnt tell me exactly what to say.
I can sympathize with these people who complain because I used to feel that way too. I was tremendously shy and awkward whenever I had to talk to people. I thought that everything I said was stupid and the wrong thing. I thought there must be some secret formula for how you talk to people, and that every body in the world knew how to talk to people except me.
So, I spent many years trying to learn how to overcome my shyness and learn the secrets of making conversation with other people. I kept looking for that magic conversation formula that would tell me exactly what to say to people.
And guess what? There is no secret formula.
I realize now that looking for a formula for talking to people is a mistake. I repeat again, there is no formula for making conversation!
A conversation is simply two people making an exchange of words, ideas, opinions, feelings or facts. No two conversations are ever alike.
Conversations can always go in any direction. Some conversations work well, and some dont.
I realized that making conversation is not a science, with any rigid formulas.
Making conversation is more like an art form. Because making conversation is an art form and not a science, you can be creative when you make conversation. Like any art form, you can increase your skill with practice.
Like any art form, when you make conversation, you can throw out all the rules.
Just like there isnt any formula for how you should dance or how you should paint, there isnt any real formula for how you make conversation.
When making conversation, to some extent you have to express yourself, but you also have to hide yourself. You dont want to reveal everything about yourself to everybody. You have to spend time looking around for the people you really want to talk with and to spend time with.
Here is another reason why you cant really have a formula for making conversation.
In a conversation, you are only responsible for 50 % of the talking. People who are very worried about finding the secret formula for making conversation, often forget that one of the most important parts of a conversation is to listen. You can get so focused on what you are going to say next, that you totally forget to do the listening part. Really listen.
Remember, the other person you are talking with is someone who really wants to be heard. What they want from you is something deeper than your words.
To truly communicate, forget about what you are going to say.
Instead, learn to listen with open ears and an open mind and an open heart. That will take you further than any simple formula about what you should say.