Conversations. We hear them everyday and everywhere; on the news, on the train, at the office, at the mall. People talking about the weather, their families, the news, their lives, the new boss. In the dating world, good conversations are the key to good chemistry. Have you ever been out to dinner and your date just won’t stop talking? You wonder if you will ever get in a word in edgewise? Or have you been on a date where it is like pulling teeth just to get the conversation going? You are left with one word answers and then the dreaded awkward silence as you both wait for the check. Every now and then you will stumble upon someone who you can just talk to naturally for hours. Even after you leave the restaurant, you might still talk on the phone for longer.

But what does it take to be a great conversationalist? Perhaps conversations make you nervous. Or maybe you have been told that you dominate conversations. Once you learn to carry good conversations with anyone and everyone, you will see how easily it translates to dating and relationships. Here are four key ways to perfect the art of conversations:

1. Actively Listen

People love to talk about themselves. If you are a little more nervous talking, let the other person start the conversation. Allow them to talk and as they talk, actively listen. What are the key things this person is saying to you? React to those things. For example, if someone says, “it was a rough day, but I’m happy to be here on this date.” You could respond, “I’m sorry you had a rough day.” By acknowledging that you listened to your date, you are continuing the conversation and also showing that you care.

2. Remove the Ego

The conversation is not about you. As they talk, instead of thinking about how you are going to answer, or what story that you have that is so much better, just try to listen to the person and be involved in their story. Share naturally with the person and from your heart. Let go of the “I.” Try not to start the conversation with, “Well I…” or “I think.” Instead, try to remove your ego and just try to be with the person you are talking to. You will notice such a change when you are thinking with your heart and not your head.

3. Practice on Strangers and Sing in the Shower

One of the key ways to find our voice is to just talk more, sing more, and to let the vocal chords be active. I often tell people who are shy or timid when using their voice to start practicing on complete strangers. When standing in line, turn to the person next to you and say something like, “it’s a beautiful day” or “those are beautiful shoes.” You’ll be surprised how a compliment from a stranger can turn someone’s entire day around. Practicing on strangers is also less intimidating than practicing on someone you like. If your conversation skills fail you, who cares? It’s a stranger, you will probably never see him or her again. Another great way to hear your voice is to sing. Sing in the shower or in the car, who cares if you can’t carry a note? It’s your voice! Use it.

4. An Equal-Sided Conversation

When engaging in dialogue on a date, it’s extremely important not to dominate or withdraw from the conversation. Give each of you time to speak and share. Remember that listening is just as important as talking, and acknowledging the person who just spoke leads to a more personal conversation. Some conversations will be easier than others, but keep these tips in mind during the best and worst of your dialogues. Each conversation is important. Give your date time to share, give yourself time to share, and make the conversation as balanced as possible.

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