The Conversation Game

By Kelly Quigley, REALTOR® Magazine

The Art of Talking to Anyone by Rosalie Maggio (McGraw-Hill, 2005)

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The holiday season’s upon us, and that means lots of parties and even more chances to meet new prospects. Your conversation skills take center stage as you mingle with others and attempt to make a great impression. You must be confident, eager to start up a conversation, and able to end one quickly when needed. For some people, these things come naturally. But the rest of us can benefit from some pointers—and that’s where this book comes in. Each chapter is full of scripts and practical tips (including what not to say) for conversations at conferences, social events, on the phone, on a date, and in a variety of other real-life scenarios. A recurring section called “If They Say … You Say” makes it easy to put the tips from that chapter to use. The author forces you to overcome your bad habits and focus on how to come across in a more confident, likeable way.

Tips From the Book:

  • Show appreciation. Don’t be embarrassed to say nice things. Make it a habit of offering sincere compliments and you’ll be the best-liked person at any gathering. Always watch for something to appreciate in other people—perhaps their blouse or volunteer work—and offer up a brief, yet specific remark. Use words such as “admire,” “appreciate,” “remarkable,” “stunning,” and “valuable.”
  • Weed out verbal tics. Most people have at least a few repetitive speech habits that they’re not aware of but that can really irritate a listener. Some examples are “to make a long story short,” “basically,” “um,” “”in any event,” “you know,” and “I mean.” Ask friends or relatives if they’ve noticed you relying on the same expressions. Then stop saying them. These phrases add absolutely nothing to a conversation.
  • Don’t dig yourself further into a hole. It’s impossible to take back something you wish you hadn’t said. Maybe you told a tasteless joke, spilled someone’s secret, or insulted someone without realizing it. What can you do? Apologize on the spot with a serious demeanor. Use simple, honest phrases such as, “I am so sorry,” “Please forgive me; I don’t know what I could have been thinking,” or “Will you forgive me for saying something so thoughtless?”