Improve your Conversation by avoiding these traps.

And as suddenly as it began, it’s over.
There you were, in the middle of a great conversation when suddenly the wind died in your sails, leaving stranded out in a large, unwelcoming and unforgiving ocean. What happened?

Not every conversation will work, but most of them can. Sometimes you’ll find yourself stuck with a person you just don’t connect with, that’s life. When it happens, move on. Conversely, if your conversation is boring, predictable, meandering and dead on arrival, and suddenly you realize you’re rather be at home arranging your sock drawer than continuing the torture, there’s a good chance you are at least partially to blame.

Here are five conversation killers that can really destroy a conversation. We’re all guilty of them from time to time because they’re very easy to do. So, be aware of the information in this list, and watch that you don’t swim into a riptide and get sucked out to sea.

Conversation Killer #1: The Blabbermouth

Conversation is a two way street and monopolizing the entire thing is a bad idea, no matter how interesting you might think you are. If you do 85-95% of the talking, that means the other person is not an active participant. They are listening, nodding occasionally, and trying not to look like their falling asleep while they plot their escape from your lecture.

Keep it 50/50. If you find yourself doing all the talking, try and get the other person to open up a little more by asking questions that require a thoughtful answer, not things that can be answered with ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ When the other person finishes talking, pause for a beat before speaking to give it some air, this is encouraging because it shows you are listening and thinking about what was said, not waiting until they shut up so you can say your part.

Conversation Killer #2: The Choke

Talking to much is disastrous to a conversation. Not talking is just as serious, and can quickly lead to another roadblock.
Unless somebody is asking you a math problem, one word answers should be avoided. Here are a few scenarios:

“Hey John, whats two plus two?”
“Five?” (I’m not very good with numbers.)

“Hey John, what did you do yesterday?”

“Hey John, what did you do yesterday?”
“I had a really funny thing happen yesterday morning, would you like to hear about it?”

Once again, keep it 50/50, your responses should add to and further the conversation.

Conversation Killer #3 : The Apathetic

It’s impossible to talk to somebody who looks bored, whose eyes are scanning the room while you speak, who’s fiddling around with their watch and generally not paying any attention to what you’re saying.

Don’t be this person!

Follow these simple guidelines and you’ll never be the awful partner nobody wants to converse with.

Don’t be distracted.
This is simple. Don’t be the aforementioned person. Show interest, make eye contact, and most importantly, listen! If you find yourself speaking to someone who suddenly becomes detached, get their attention back. Stop speaking for a moment and it will snap them back to reality. Perhaps the history of the Tesla coil isn’t as fascinating to them as you’d hoped, time for a new topic.

Be interested.
Listen and remark on what is being said to you. Ask questions, share similar experiences, but above all show interest in your conversation partner.

Be interesting.
Find topics of mutual interest, by listening and asking questions. Sometimes your stories will go over great, and sometimes you will bore the pants off your partner.
All you need to do is find a common ground, or at least a point of interest, and expand from there.

Conversation Killer #4: The Uncomfortable.

You can be having the greatest conversation of your life with the most interesting person you’ve ever met, but if you’re standing two inches away with bad breath, you’re going to wind up talking to yourself. Be aware of your body language.

Don’t invade their personal space. Some cultures differ on this point, but try and stand no closer to a person that you would if you were shaking hands.

Don’t stare. There’s a fine line between making eye contact and staring somebody down, and done incorrectly you will only succeed in making them feel uncomfortable.

Don’t look away either. Show your interested by making eye contact, but too little makes you appear distracted. A good rule of thumb is make eye contact around 50% of the time while speaking, and 70% while listening.

Halitosis. What can I say? Find a way to deal with it.

Hello Mr. Mumbles. Pace your speech and enunciate. Don’t shout, whisper, speed talk or talk in slow motion unless the situation calls for it.

Hello Mr. Wiggles. Tapping your feet, swaying back and forth, pacing up and down, patting your elbows, jiggling change in your pockets, these are all distractions. Relax.

Conversation Killer #5: The Jerk.
While it’s good to discuss and debate matters, it’s usually a mistake to get mad and call someone an idiot. Try and avoid acting confrontational and negative. It’s fine to disagree with someone, but criticizing, ridiculing and belittling them will lead nowhere.

For more conversation starters, information, advice and resources please drop by Conversation Aid
I'd love to hear from you!
-John Donland

Author's Bio: 

John Donland is an author from the great white north, aka Canada. His articles have appeared in the recycling bins of some of the most prestigious publishing houses in the world. He is also the creator of Conversation Aid.