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6 Ways to Hone Your Conversation Skills

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6 Ways to Hone Your Conversation Skills

By Laine Bergeson and Courtney Helgoe, Experience Life

On a sunny day last fall, Taylor Baldry set up a card table and three folding chairs on a well-traveled street corner in Minneapolis. He stationed a sandwich board nearby that announced “Free Conversations.” Almost immediately, a couple joined him, and they spent the next 20 minutes discussing ghost stories, a topic they selected from Baldry’s menu of conversation options, which on this day ranged from the weather and dinosaurs to “things you can do with an egg.”

When the couple left, others sat down, and Baldry spent the afternoon chatting amiably with a steady stream of strangers, doing his part to restore the practice of in-person conversation.

Since that October afternoon, Baldry, a performance artist, has taken his Conversationalist project to parks, theaters and other venues in the city, and has learned something about his fellow citizens: People are starved for authentic interactions. “Most people think it’s a trick at first — that I’m selling something,” says the 28-year-old. “When they realize there are no strings attached, they’ll really start talking.”

From the salons of 19th-century Paris to the contemporary cocktail party, conversation has long been celebrated as a social art. But today it’s increasingly being replaced by self-promotional electronic posts and superficial digital chatter. While social media and platforms like Facebook play a vital role in modern culture, there are aspects inherent in a face-to-face engagement that can’t be replaced.

An in-person exchange gives us the opportunity to see and be seen by our cohorts — a seemingly small detail with significant consequences. Body language and facial expressions allow for a more nuanced understanding of a person’s tone and overall message, which is key to building trust. Visual cues also engage the brain’s mirror neurons, which fire when we express an emotion or when we see someone else do the same. This process, commonly referred to as empathy, helps us forge closer, more meaningful relationships, and learn more about others and ourselves.

If you feel a little reticent about engaging in a more sophisticated tête-à-tête with your fellows — up close and personal — read on. Even the most introverted among us can learn how to diversify, deepen and comfortably practice the simple art of conversation.

First up: simple beginnings

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Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit to learn more and to sign up for the Experience Life newsletter, or to subscribe to the print or digital version.


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1:20AM PDT on Jul 25, 2012

good tips.

11:49AM PDT on Jul 20, 2012

Great tips - thanks!
It would be fantastic to see the art of conversation make a comeback :)

3:05PM PDT on Jul 19, 2012

good tips especially the listening part. be present. Truly.

7:28PM PDT on Jul 16, 2012

Life is so lonely. I am a older and single woman at present .I need a man who can love me back .I also uploaded my hot photos on 【WwW.AgedMatch.CoM】 under the name of Sara.. It’s the largest and best club for seeking Older seniors, successful people, users over 50, establish relationship and talk about their interests, or to help each other. I hope you will check my photos out there. Maybe you are the one who I'm looking for.

3:04PM PDT on Jul 2, 2012

thanks for the article, great communication tips.

5:06AM PDT on Jul 2, 2012

Learn to listen ,and you will soon earn to converse.

10:50PM PDT on Jun 30, 2012

I have found in the work I do, that the elderly and those who live alone, have no trouble talking to you. It's amazing what you learn just by listening to people and their life stories.

9:08PM PDT on Jun 30, 2012

thanks for the tips. i have a hard time conversing with people i barely know...

7:04PM PDT on Jun 30, 2012

Thanks for sharing, very helpful.

9:53AM PDT on Jun 30, 2012


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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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