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The Secret to Being a Witty Conversationalist is Not in What You Say

THE ART OF good conversation is important because it’s a core element in achieving successful sales.

Yet so many business people are terrible at conducting and sustaining an interesting conversation.

Are you a good conversationalist? Keep reading… you’ll soon find out!

Here’s a pop quiz:

People will think you a delightful conversationalist if you:

  1. can talk intelligently about a wide variety of things
  2. can tell funny jokes or witty stories
  3. have an interesting hobby to talk about
  4. are interested in them

The answer is number 4. And the iron, is that the secret to being a great conversationalist has nothing to do with how interesting you can be.

It has to do with how much you show interest in others.

Many people mistake the ability to be charming and delightful company with being witty and funny, silver-tongued and glib – being able to come up with interesting things to say, fascinating stories to relate.

But think about people who like to wax eloquent on any subject, who, fascinated with themselves, tend to go on and on ad nauseum in conversations. Do you find them truly interesting, enjoyable, fascinating company? Chances are you find them royal bores.

This is the irony. Instead of trying to impress others with your witty repartee and delightful small talk, you need to be impressed by theirs. This is conveyed through the art of conversation.

The tricky part is just getting started. First of all, there are some basic starter topics that universally work: the other person’s: (a) work, (b) family, (c) interests, and (d) geography (where are you from?).

Then there’s an easy two-step process to get a conversation going: (1) make an opening comment, then (2) follow up with a question.

The opening comment can be either a simple statement, a self-revelation, a compliment, or a closed-ended question (one that calls for a basic, one-word answer).

For the second step, you ask a general open-ended question or frame it in the form of asking for advice (hint: people love to be asked for their advice!). Here are a few examples of these conversation starters:

1) Statement: “John told me you’re an avid golfer.”

2) Question: “How do you find the time with such a demanding job?”


1) Compliment: “I really admire you for volunteering to work with disadvantaged children.”

2) Question: “What would you say was your biggest challenge?”


1) Closed-ended question: “Are you a member of this organization?”

2) Open-ended question: “Can you tell me more about it?”


1) Self-revelation: “I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m not very comfortable about giving my presentation tonight.”

2) Advice: “Could you give me any pointers to help me relax a little?”


Once you get the conversation started, here are some guidelines to keep it going:

  • Ask questions to keep the other person talking.
  • Don’t interrupt.
  • Resist trying to “top” the other person’s story.
  • Exhibit good listening skills. Engage the speaker non-verbally, actually hear what he or she has to say, and respond appropriately. If the speaker feels listened to, they’ll feel like you’re truly interested in them.
  • The old joke about staying away from religion and politics is truly wise advice. Until you know someone’s religious and political leanings, it’s best to stay away from topics that, at best, could leave you both feeling awkward, or at worst, could come to verbal blows

Believe it or not, people will think you’re wonderful if they believe you think they’re wonderful!

Until next time… Onwards and Upwards!


If you want to talk about anything to so with getting more customers, give John a call 0414 955 743 – advice is totally free of charge.

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