- Some introverts have difficulty in conversational situations.
- An easy way to begin a conversation is to show interest in others.
- Introducing flexibility allows spontaneity in communication.
When I work with introvert clients on enhancing communication skills, one common concern I hear regarding one-on-one conversational situations is that, as dialogue continues, especially if the introvert is speaking to someone with much more exuberance or aggressiveness, the introvert's energy will begin to wane. Also, during lengthy conversations an introvert may struggle to keep up with discussion topics.
Below are five tips for confident one-on-one conversation in personal and/or professional scenarios, excerpted from my book Relationship Communication Success for Introverts. You may already be familiar with some of the skills below, and not all of the ideas may apply to you or your particular situation. Simply utilize what’s beneficial and leave the rest.
1. Easy Ways to Begin and Maintain a Conversation
“Show interest in others, and others will show interest in you.”
― Dale Carnegie
The two keys to being at ease in conversation are to show interest in others, and to ask questions about what they’re interested in. At the start of the conversation, ask open-ended questions about them. For example:
“How’s everything going?”
“Did you do anything enjoyable over the weekend?”
“What’s new in your area?”
“What do you find most interesting about your work?”
“How did you get involved in your current project?”
If you would like to keep a conversation going, simply select a piece of information your conversation partner shared with you, and say:
“That’s interesting. Tell me more!”
Asking questions during a conversation is an easy way for introverts to participate actively without having to be too talkative. It has the multiple benefits of saving speech and energy, maintaining engagement, and being attentive to your partner.
A good conversational partner will reciprocate the attention by asking questions about you in return, which will also facilitate the discussion.
2. Easy Ways to Speak Spontaneously During a Conversation
Some people may feel inhibited from speaking freely during a conversation because of the fear of making mistakes. There may be a tendency to withhold speech because one has not completely processed the topic, or the information may not be complete.
You can overcome these trepidations by introducing flexibility into the context of what you’re about to say. For example, at the beginning of your sentence, say…
“I’m just thinking out loud…”
“I’m just brainstorming about…”
“I’m not sure about this yet, but…”
When you introduce a flexible context at the beginning of a conversation topic, you take pressure off of yourself from having to be correct all the time during your discourse. You render yourself the strength and agility to speak more freely and spontaneously.
3. Easy Ways to Buy Time and Organize Your Thoughts
During a conversation, there may be times when you want to be more thoughtful and concise with what you’re about to say, but aren’t ready to speak right away. In these situations, you can “buy time” by letting the other person know that you need a moment to think. Say, for example:
“Give me a moment, I want to be very clear with what I’m about to say…”
“Let me think for a moment…”
“Give me a second to think this through…”
In our extrovert-oriented society, it isn’t always socially permissible to have a period of silence for thinking in the middle of a conversation. However, by introducing a preface that announces you need a moment to think, you acquire the social permission to organize your thoughts.
4. Ways to Build Breaks During a Long Conversation
If the conversation gets lengthy and you need to take a break, simply say that you wish to use the restroom, get a drink of water, or retrieve something from your office or car, and will be right back. During your break, take a moment to surround yourself with solitude. Take nice, long breaths. If you use the restroom, put some cold water on your face, or in front and behind your neck to refresh.
5. How to Diplomatically Exit a Conversation
When you’re ready to finish a conversation, give your partner a heads up that after your next comment or questions you’ll need to go do something else. Psychologically prepare the other person for conclusion for an easier and graceful exit.
For more tips on confident communication for introverts, see references below.
© 2022 by Preston C. Ni. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright violation may subject the violator to legal prosecution.
Ni, Preston. Relationship Communication Success for Introverts. PNCC. (2017)
Ni, Preston. Workplace Communication Success for Introverts. PNCC. (2017)
Ni, Preston. How to Communicate Effectively and Handle Difficult People — 2nd Edition. PNCC. (2006)