How To Be An Outstanding Conversationalist

*This is a guest post by Mark Foo @

One of Dale Carnegie’s principles in How to Win Friends and Influence People is to be genuinely interested in other people.

How then, do you make the other party feel that you’re genuinely interested when in a conversation? This is especially important if you’re in sales.

Listen Attentively

One of the keys is to listen attentively. Listening is a critical skill for a successful conversation. Too many people are too quick to make their points.

To demonstrate you’re genuinely interested and be an outstanding conversationalist, you must hold back your urge to talk. Show the other party that you’re simply contented to listen. When it’s time to contribute, make it a snap and to the point.

Also, listening builds trust. The more attention you pay to the other person by listening attentively, the more the person will trust and believe you. And it will make the person feel more respected and appreciated.

Show That You’re Being Attentive

Whenever you’re listening attentively, simply nod and smile to acknowledge what the other person is saying. After which, repeat what the person has said in your own words, “If I’m not wrong, what you’re saying is…”

By doing so, you’ve demonstrated that you have genuinely paid attention to him/her and that you’re genuinely interested in finding out or understanding more of his/her thoughts or feelings.

This demonstration of your attentiveness will portray you as an interesting and fascinating person whom, he/she can feel at ease to hang around with. And he/she will also feel happy to have you around.

Pause Before Reply

The next key is, to be an excellent listener; you need to learn how to pause. When the other person finishes talking, pause for a few seconds before replying.

This is to avoid the risk of interrupting the person for he/she might have stopped just to sort out his/her thoughts. Quite often, you will find that the person will carry on to speak.

By pausing, you’re also sending a subliminal message to the person saying that you consider what he/she has just said to be important as you’re carefully thinking over his/her words. This helps to make the person feel important.

Another benefit of pausing is that it allows what the person has just said to sink into your mind, thus allowing you to understand him/her better.

Ask Open Ended Questions

Don’t ask questions that draw a simple “yes” or “no” answer. Asking open-ended questions will encourage the person to expand on his thoughts and reveal more information, which will help you to understand him/her better.

Asking questions also allow you to seek clarification. One of the most powerful questions I learnt to ask is, “How do you mean?”

You can be assured that the person will seek to elaborate on his/her earlier dialogue. From there, you can then continue to ask more open-ended questions to keep the conversation going.

In any good conversation, there should be a good flow of dialogues between the parties involved, with each person getting an opportunity to talk. But allow the other person to talk more.

Closing Thoughts

It takes a lot of self-discipline to be an excellent listener because our mind can process words much faster than a person can speak. Hence it takes a lot of effort to remain focused on what another person is saying and not let your mind wander in different directions.

Nevertheless, you just need to keep working at it. The more you practice, the more disciplined you’ll become.

Pausing before replying requires self-control because many people tend to be poor listeners and they’re always too eager to make their points. Again, this can be achieved by constant practice. As the saying goes, “Practice makes perfect.”

Lastly, though it’s very important to be a good listener, you’ll not have much to listen to if you can’t ask good and well-worded questions, which will give the other person the opportunity to expand his/her thoughts and freely express himself/herself.


Mark Foo

P.S. Do you have any tips on how to be an outstanding conversationalist? Please share them in the comment section below.

Bio: Mark Foo is a Personal Development Blogger @ where he writes about Success, Personal Finance, Wealth Creation and Entrepreneurship to help people become better, wiser and richer. Visit to read more.

12 thoughts on “How To Be An Outstanding Conversationalist”

  1. Hi Mark,

    Thank you again for taking the time to write this guest post. This is a perfect example of things many of us know but dont put into practice and it is a good reminder.
    I have sent this out to quite a few of my SU friends. Hopefully you get a few more responses. 😉


  2. What a great article, Mark! I love these tips. Sometimes it’s hard to remember to pay attention. Life is full of distractions, but we wouldn’t want to make anyone feel badly because we weren’t paying attention to what they’re saying!

    Gave this a stumble. I know others will find value in it–I certainly do!


    Michele’s last blog post..25 Fun Facts You Didn’t Know About Me

  3. @Hi George,

    It’s great that you’ve already been using these tips!

    @Hi Jeremy,

    Thank you for sharing the article with your SU friends. 🙂

    @Hi Michele,

    I’m glad you like these tips. Thank you for stumbling it! 🙂

    @Bunny got Blog,

    I’m glad you find the tips useful. Thank you for your comment.

    @Hi Mike,

    You’re right. We should tell people more explicitly that we’re genuinely interested. In fact, sometimes I do tell people, “That’s interesting. I’d like to know more.”


    I’m glad that you enjoyed reading this article. I like the theme of your blog. It’s very clean and easy on the eyes.

    Thank you all for giving your feedback!



    Mark Foo |’s last blog post..50 Things That I’m Grateful For

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