Conversation Skills Etiquette

There is an art to elegantly starting, sustaining and ending a dialogue with strangers or friends. Experts call it conversational intelligence. Others call it the gift of gab. Hard as it may be for chatty people to believe, not everyone is born with it. For many, it takes study and practice.

Some people really don’t like making small talk with strangers let alone even with their neighbors, but a recent article from Forbes magazine and a study conducted by the University of Michigan, have proven that it’s extremely important to be a good conversationalist if you want to:

  • Be well liked
  • Get a job
  • Get ahead

Experts say that people in general are actually getting worse at making small talk  because of so much of our lives have moved on-line. We’ve become less adept at in-person interactions, and the younger generation is not learning the basics of making small talk because they’re used to virtually communicating.

It’s important to know how to make small talk with people whether you’re at a party, your daughter’s volleyball game, or at the office, because when you make conversation it:

  • Makes You Smarter. – You learn about others, different perspectives, and information.
  • Feels Good. – When you truly show that you are listening to others, helping someone out, or being a friend it feels good and makes others feel good about you. People remember how you made them feel not what you said. Helps you to be in the moment.
  • Makes you more liked. – Small talk isn’t just about being gregarious or entertaining—it’s a gesture of respect.
  • Helps you get a job, make a deal, sell your product. People want to hire and do business with people they like.



  • Have positive body language – smile, no crossing arms, give direct eye contact.
  • Shake hands – research proves this releases the good feeling hormone oxytocin which promotes bonding and friendship.
  • Think of topics of conversation. Use your environment for clues, have standard opener, use open-ended questions.
  • Ready to “hear” their name and use it. Using someone’s name will help you remember it and make them feel good.

Conversation Skills


Think of making conversation like a game of catch. When you meet someone and begin to talk to them it’s like you are throwing them a ball and asking them a question like, “Hi Sam. What’s new?” Then, when the other person “receives the ball”, their responsibility is to answer the question, and then “throw the ball” and ask the other persona a question. This should go back and forth, and if you really listen to the other person’s answers, and you give information of yourself, you can continue talking for hours!

Remember to:

  • Ask questions of the other person, but it’s not an interrogation so also give information about yourself.
  • Ask open-ended questions and have key questions in mind that spur conversation with anyone like, “What did you do today?” “What’s new?”
  • If you keep the conversation going by giving a sincere complement, showing empathy, or asking the other person for their viewpoint on something.
  • Listen so that you can ask follow-up questions.



End a conversation by saying something nice, then shaking hands again if appropriate and use their name as you leave them.

“It was so nice running into you Susan, and I’m so glad I got to hear about your trip to England. I need to run now, but I hope to see you again soon.

Conversation Skills

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Remember to always:

  1. Ask questions! This is the main thing I find that people don’t do and you can’t build a rapport with someone if you don’t ask about them and their life. When you ask people questions it also shows that you care and are interested in them.
  2. Listen. Don’t talk to someone while also looking at your phone, looking around the room, reading something, or being on your computer. Give people the respect they deserve by giving them your full attention.
  3. Be a role model for your children. If we want our children to have good conversation skills then we need to teach them how to do it (play the game of conversation catch with them), don’t talk for our kids when they are with other grown-ups, and put down our electronics when our kids are talking to us.


For more information on etiquette, or to discuss having Aimee conduct an etiquette program for your company or group, please go to her website at Registration for Aimee’s Modern Cotillion for 5th and 6th graders this spring will open soon. Contact her at [email protected] for more information.