Yes, I am one of those quiet-types or whatever. Yes, I am the solitary, studious writer holed up in her room to think and write frequently. No, I am not a highly popular pupil; however, the numerous close friends I associate with are golden. But, all of those facts thrust aside: speaking in person is loads more fun than other means of communication (snail-mail screeches into second on this one – but that is a discussion for another time).
What I find are the most important aspects of communicating in person – to make the conversation fun or at least not-boring – are:
body language – heck, yes, are gestures valuable to an adequate conversation (who wants to sit and talk with a rock?) and facial expressions can only enhance the experience (unless you stink at making them and just come across as a weirdo); I may use them far too much, but at least I have some fun and give making conversation interesting a shot. Since I am naturally a quiet-ish person, this aspect is very important to me; sometimes I can’t say what I’m thinking, but upon close inspection, I am definitely showing it (this is why I am a terrible liar).
inflection – I don’t remember the last time I had a full conversation in my “normal voice”. I use different voices to tell my stories all the time! Some (many) will say I sound depressed, with a monotone voice, which may be true at times, and I honestly don’t know where that comes from, but when I am chatting with my close, close friends, I’m fairly certain I have a changing pitch and not a dull, depressed one. I am pretty sure I have an “I-don’t-exactly-feel-like-speaking-to-you-right-now-voice, too. Unfortunately, the people I use it on don’t have much experience with inflection and don’t catch on. I guess strange pronunciations count in this section too – I really throw myself into the character in the story I am telling; which is wild, since my acting abilities are non-existent.
listening/paying attention – gosh, how can you speak without this? But this is probably the most underused aspect of communication I stumble upon, daily. No one listens. What kind of conversation is that? Tell-tale signs of this include: interruptions/cutting-off, absent-minded nodding, lame responses, walking off without properly ending the conversation, etc. It bugs me a LOT because I listen all the time! I’m in the “smart classes” because I listen.
asking questions – a perfect way to help a conversation stay afloat and avoid any “awkward silences”. It helps one get to know another, helps one appear interested/interesting, etc. Without asking questions, two people are forced to keep making statements, agreeing or disagreeing with them until it gets boring. I know that asking valid and interesting questions are hard – just try the question game, where the players must say things back in forth, always ending with a question; it’s tough – but making the effort makes conversation better.
participating/answering back – Have you ever had a “conversation” with someone who just nodded and…that’s it? It’s terrible, isn’t it? It goes hand-in-hand with listening/paying attention – please, it’s not like texting where answering back is an option, and not participating is a-ok. Imagine – or remember – being on the phone with someone who never said anything: what is the point?! End it already!
be cool with silence – silence ain’t that bad, y’all. It’s natural for conversation to die down or slow at points. It won’t become awkward unless you fart or say so! Getting and appearing very uncomfortable in a silence just makes it seem all the more awkward. Use the silence to digest what was said and come up with a new topic of conversation. If the silence does last long and it has actually become awkward, asking questions helps, unless you do not want to talk to/continue talking to the person, then you should end it. Or, if you must go somewhere, use the silence to say your goodbyes and depart.
IT IS NOT ALL ABOUT YOU – I’m sorry to break this to the self-centered people of the world, but I’m willing to bet a lot of money that over fifty percent of people that you talk to do not find talking specifically all about you quite as enthralling as you do. Expressing points of views, opinions and personal experiences are fine – very much encouraged on my part – but constant chatter about you, you, you is utterly lame, lame, lame!
I’m trying extremely hard to not be a hypocrite in listing these facts, but I’m pretty sure I follow what I am saying – I just don’t go out of my way to talk to everyone, I am a “quiet one”, remember? And I am trying to use these aspects more and more now that I listed them here. However, an aspect that I don’t think is important enough to list above, but I don’t exactly exercise much and probably should is speak up. I wish I could just have a worthy conversation with someone random everyday, but I am just not that outgoing. Whatever. I have loony enough conversations with my friends.