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Published

22 June 2023

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Training people in conversation skills is one of my favourite things because it’s so transformative, and even after one class (we usually recommend at least two), you can witness the change. Why might someone need to improve their conversation, you ask?

Humans are a social species, and yet modern times and modern society shut down many opportunities to make conversations. Social media, the Pandemic and the growth in single households have all contributed to many of us fearing conversations. Whilst we might be more connected than ever before, away from the screen, many of us feel less connected to one another and often exhibit a general lack of awareness of others.

Steven Moore talking to King Charles III when the latter was Prince of Wales
Steven Moore in conversation with The King (when Prince of Wales)

Thankfully there is a solution to this problem, and the flames of good conversation can be rekindled in anyone with a bit of guidance away from potential pitfalls. 

Here are some basic errors people make when conversing with others. How many of these have you been guilty of?

Complimenting someone

This might seem like a good thing to do, but it’s not. You’re figuratively invading their personal space, and it can make you seem creepy and the other person uncomfortable. You can’t know how they will react to a seemingly innocent question like, ‘Oh, your hair looks nice’, so it’s best to avoid them.

Asking about holidays

Similarly, asking something like ‘Have you been on holiday recently‘ may seem innocuous enough, but what if that person didn’t and couldn’t afford to? Again, it’s too personal and too prying.

Mentioning family

Asking about someone’s family is tricky, too. It seems like an obvious conversation starter – we all have a family, but it can be problematic. You can’t tell if someone was an orphan, for instance, recently divorced, trying for children, and so on. Asking questions about family can provoke negative responses and make the other person (and those around you) uncomfortable. It’s another one to be avoided.

And whilst these may seem obvious, avoid topics such as sex, death, politics and religion.

So what on earth are the safe options? Well, ever wondered why the British always talk about the weather? Now you know why! But there are better topics and during our private online or in-person conversation skills training or social etiquette courses, we’ll happily chat with you about them.

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