Conversation Skills for Success

Competence is one of the four keys to career and life success in my Common Sense Success System.  I also discuss it in some detail in several of my books: Straight Talk for Success; Your Success GPS; and 42 Rules to Jumpstart Your Professional Success.  If you want to succeed you need to develop four basic, but important competencies: 1) creating positive personal impact; 2) becoming a consistently high performer; 3) dynamic communication skills; and 4) becoming interpersonally competent. 

There are four key competencies that will help you become a career and life success:

  • You have to be able to create positive personal impact.
  • You have to be become an outstanding performer.
  • You have to be a dynamic communicator – in conversation, writing and presentations.
  • You have to build strong, lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with the important people in your life.

If you want to become a dynamic communicator, you need to develop three skills: conversation, writing and presenting.  The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines the word “dynamic” as, “Marked by continuous and productive activity.”  In many ways, this is a good definition for an effective conversation.  In a conversation, two types of activities occur simultaneously: speaking and listening.  In good conversations, both of these are continuous and productive.  In plain English, when you’re in a conversation, if you’re not speaking and providing information, you need to be listening and receiving it.

In previous posts I’ve pointed out that asking good questions is an important way to become known as a great conversationalist.  But to take full advantage of the questions you ask, you need to really listen to the answers and respond appropriately. 

Here are my top seven tips for becoming a good listener – and conversationalist.

1. Look the other person in the eye when he or she is speaking.  This demonstrates that you are engaged with him or her.

2. Listen to understand what the other person is saying – not to plan your rebuttal.

3. Listen really hard when the other person begins by saying something with which you don’t agree.

4. Know the words that trigger your emotions.  Don’t get distracted by them.

5. Be patient.  Some people take longer than others to make their point. Don’t interrupt.

6. Ask clarification questions when you don’t understand.

7. Repeat what you have heard the other person say – to make sure you got it right, and to show him or her that you were listening.

If you use these seven tips in conversation, you will become known as a great conversationalist and a dynamic communicator.

The common sense point here is simple.  Successful people are competent.  Dynamic communication is an important key success competency.  If you want to become a dynamic communicator, you have to become a good conversationalist, clear writer and effective presenter.  To become a good conversationalist learn to listen well.  Listening, like a lot of success advice, is just common sense.  Show the other person you are engaged.  Focus on understanding, not on rebutting points with which you don’t agree.  Don’t get distracted by words that trigger your emotions.  Ask clarification questions to ensure you understand what is being said.  Repeat what you’ve heard.

That’s my take on listening.  What’s yours?  Please leave a comment sharing your best listening advice.  As always, thanks for reading – and writing.


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  1. what about the body language when in conversation – is it not important?

  2. Keshave,

    Thanks for your comment.

    Body language is important in conversation.

    You have to demonstrate that you are listening to the other person — and eye contact and other body language helps.

    All the best,


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