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“Ugh! I’m just not very good at this,” she said. This person was a participant in an online community gathering where I was the special guest. We were deep into a Q&A session that was generating a lot of rich discussion. The woman elaborated, saying, “I interrupt all the time, I talk too much, I often get stuck on negative topics, and I need to work on my listening. I get so frustrated with myself!”

“Hold on,” I replied. “If you’re this aware of your conversation habits, trust me, you’re way ahead of most people!”

I truly meant that.

The very first step to becoming a better conversationalist is becoming more self-aware; to monitor and get to know your conversation strengths as well as your fears, habits, quirks, and “areas for growth.”

For example:

  • Are you an over-talker who should be listening more? (The optimal ratio in a one-on-one conversation is 60% listening, 40% talking. In a group, you evenly divide the “conversation pie.”)
  • Do you struggle with figuring out what to say or talk about? (Interesting questions are a terrific way to get a conversation going. You can find dozens of examples here.)
  • Do you blurt things out or interrupt when others are talking?
  • Do you complain or use sarcasm? (Both can be turnoffs.)
  • Do you know how to manage a conversation – or graciously exit when it’s time to move on? (Sooo liberating!)
  • Do you avoid social interaction altogether because you just don’t like doing it? (Don’t give up! This is the sure path to isolation, loneliness, and a host of other things you don’t want in your life.)

Seriously.  When it comes to conversation, self-awareness is a crucial first step in becoming more authentic, confident, and memorable. It’s also the secret to having more of the conversations you want to be having and fewer of those you don’t.

Want to learn more specifics for upping your conversation game?  Check out my award-winning book More Than Just Talk: The Essential Guide for Anyone Who Wants to Enjoy Better Conversations. You’ll find it on Amazon and other online book retailers as well as at BookPeople in downtown Austin.