Is it possible to develop conversational skills later in life?
February 9, 2013 1:54 PM Subscribe
I grew up as a painfully shy, socially anxious extrovert. No friends that weren't online, could not talk to anyone. This was not a fun combination, so after Highschool I worked on fixing it and I've gotten better. I can make small talk, break the ice, carry on a general conversation. But this is not what I want.
posted by Pericardium to human relations (10 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
To pull from a recent AskMe, this is what I want for myself:
"I am the person at the party or the bar who can win hearts and minds, leave with everybody's contact info without asking for it, introduce like-minded people who are unable to hook up on their own, draw shy people out, etc. "
Can these skills be developed, or are people born with them/have to learn them at an early age? I'm early/mid twenties. I want to be a master conversationalist, emotionally intelligent, all that good jazz. If it's possible, where/how can I continue learning?
Things I'm already doing:
1) Seeing a therapist/on meds
2) Meeting a lot of people/okay with talking to service people, so I have a lot of opportunities to "practice"
3) Have read "How To Win Friends and Influence People" and "Emotional Intellegence 2.0"
4) Observing, which can bite me in the ass sometimes in group conversations when I just sit back and try to learn something about communicating instead of participating
5) Small talk. Lots and lots of small talk. Sigh.
My problem... I seem to grasp the formulaic concept, but not the intuitive concept. For example, I used to frequent grocery stores/gas stations with a very social person. I noticed that when people said "How are you/How's it going/what's up" instead of responding "I'm great, how about you?" (which to me followed the formula -> answer, follow up question, they probably don't really want to hear about your day) they would answer with a quick blurb about why they were in the store, how they were doing, or something light-hearted about plans later that night. They ended up making a LOT of random store acquaintances that way.
That's something I never would have thought to do had I not observed that person. But I want to do things like that on my own, to put people at ease, be easy to talk to, make people smile.