You can read all the books on conversation the world has to offer, but in reality, conversations only get better with practice. If you were to read such books, however, you’d certainly find advice echoing the tips we’ve given below. So, read on to discover our seven top tips for carrying a good conversation.

Be Engaged and Listening

It’s pretty obvious when the person you’re talking to isn’t listening to you. They may be looking over your shoulder at the person walking past or at their phone screen, and their responses may not accord with what you’re saying. It’s pretty frustrating and can even be offensive, so ensure you are properly engaged in the interaction by acknowledging what the other person says, nodding along or responding where appropriate.

Eye Contact

Following on from being engaged and listening: eye contact. Intense as you may find looking someone directly in the eyes, this form of nonverbal communication is fairly crucial for communication on several fronts. It can help nurture a bond between yourself and your conversation buddy; it can help you display honesty or establish if the other person is being honest. It is also said to make you more resistant to persuasion tactics. If those reasons weren’t enough, eye contact could also help build understanding and respect between two people. No conversation is complete without a good stare into your buddy’s eyes.

Ask Questions

Books on conversation also typically teach us another strong tip – if you don’t want to appear entirely self-involved, then try to ask questions. This also makes the other person feel as though you’re interested and you value what they have to say.

Praise the Other Person, But Don’t Be Sycophantic

Everyone loves a compliment, but there’s a fine line between paying a compliment and being a sycophant. Try not to shower the other person with endless compliments; it will only make your intentions seem questionable. If you can’t find anything to say in the conversation:

Seek Advice and Recommendations

In a similar vein to our earlier tip of asking questions, asking the other person in the conversation for their advice and recommendations is a useful way to make a conversation 2-sided, involving them in your life by asking for their wisdom on a matter concerning you. Even a topic as banal (but always entertaining) as TV show recommendations can make for a lively conversation where both parties play an active role.

Know your Audience

When you’re thinking of a conversation topic, make sure you have a basic understanding of human behavior psychology and take whoever you’re talking to into consideration. If you know you don’t align politically with the other person, perhaps best not to talk about politics. Equally, if you don’t know the other person at all, try to keep it light until you know that person better and can tread more polemic ground. If you’re British, the weather is always a solid start.

Talk to Someone, Not at Them

Too many conversations end up involving one party giving a monologue to the other rather than being an active dialogue involving both parties. Avoid talking to your friends. Besides being annoying, it exhibits a lack of interest in the other person and an absence of self-awareness. Unless they’ve paid for tickets to the RSC, nobody wants to sit there and watch a person chat extensively about their life.