Skip to content


How Can I Improve My Conversation Skills?

How Can I Improve My Conversation Skills?

 Why talk face-to-face?

 Some people say that face-to-face conversation is difficult and stressful, especially when they compare it to texting.

 “There’s more pressure when you talk face-to-face because you can’t edit or delete anything you say.”—Anna.

 “Texting is like a prerecorded program, whereas talking in person is like a live show. All I can think when I talk is, ‘Don’t mess up!’”—Jean.

 Sooner or later, though, you’ll need in-person conversation skills. For example, you will need these skills if you hope to make new friends, to get and keep a job, or to start a romantic relationship when you’re ready for it.

 The good news is, face-to-face conversation doesn’t have to be terrifying. You can learn to manage it—even if you’re timid.

 “It’s inevitable that at times you’ll say the wrong thing and feel embarrassed. You can’t take yourself too seriously.”—Neal.

 How to start a conversation

  •   Ask questions. Think of a topic that might interest people, and then turn it into a conversation starter. For example:

     “Did you travel anywhere this past summer?”

     “This is a cool website. Have you seen it before?”

     “Did you hear about . . . ?”

     To be even more specific, think of something you have in common with the person. For example, do you attend the same school or work at the same job? Use what you have in common as a basis for your questions.

     “Think of questions that you find interesting and that you’d really like to hear people’s answers to.”—Maritza.

     Caution: Don’t become an interrogator by asking one question after another. Also, try not to be too personal. Questions like “What’s your greatest fear?” or “Why do you always wear blue?” may come across that way. The second question may even seem critical!

     You can also avoid sounding like an interrogator if either before or after the person answers, you share your own viewpoint on the question you asked. In other words, make it a conversation—not an interview.

    Do your questions make you seem like an interrogator?

     Bible principle: “A personʼs thoughts are like water in a deep well, but someone with insight can draw them out.”—Proverbs 20:5, Good News Bible.

  •   Be a good listener. Your success in continuing a conversation depends more on your listening ability than on your speaking ability.

     “I make it a goal to learn one new thing about the person I’m talking to. Afterward, I try to remember what that person shared so that I can think of a follow-up question for the next conversation.”—Tamara.

     Caution: Don’t worry about what you will say next. If you listen carefully, you’ll be able to respond to what the other person says.

     Bible principle: “Be quick to listen, slow to speak.”—James 1:19.

  •    Show genuine interest. You’ll enjoy a conversation much more if you care about the person you are talking to.

     “When you make the other person feel that you genuinely care about what he or she is saying, the conversation will be pleasant—even if there are a few awkward moments.”—Marie.

     Caution: Don’t get too personal. A compliment like “That’s a nice coat. How much did it cost?” might cross the line!

     Bible principle: “Look out not only for your own interests, but also for the interests of others.”—Philippians 2:4.

 How can you conclude a conversation? “Aim to end on a positive note,” suggests a young man named Jordan. “Saying something like, ‘It was really nice talking to you’ or ‘I hope you have a great day’ can pave the way for the next time you meet the person.”