Arsenio’s ESL Podcast: Season 3: Episode 16 – Speaking Skill – Becoming a Good Conversationalist

As a non-native English speaker, it’s important to become an active listener.  Becoming an active listener revolves around attentively listening to the other speaker.  Yes, it’s important to speak, too, but you will be liked very quickly if you ask people questions that they WANT to answer.

“So if you aspire to be a good conversationalist, be an attentive listener. To be interesting, be interested. Ask questions that other persons will enjoy answering. Encourage them to talk about themselves and their accomplishments.

Remember that the people you are talking to are a hundred times more interested in themselves and their wants and problems than they are in you and your problems.”

Some people are very good at this in and around Thailand because they ask the best questions that they know I would LOVEEEE to answer.  Example, “so what got you into personal development? Why do you love teaching? What are your goals? How did you overcome the obstacles in your life?” I can go on for HOURS about these topics; therefore, it makes them a great listener and conversationalist.

Follow-Up question technique

Let’s get into the basics. If you ask someone, “where are you from” and they say “Greenland,” do you know how many questions you can make from that?

  • Omg! I’ve never met anyone from Greenland! This is exciting!

The person is now feeling the excitement and they’re even more excited to get talking.  Don’t talk about your travels, stay focused and on topic with them.

  • What are some things I can do in Greenland if I go there?
  • Would you recommend any flights? How are the people?
  • Places to eat? How’s daylight there since it’s far up north? Northern lights?
  • Where else have you traveled and what brings you here?

If the other person wants to speak, that’s at least 20 minutes of conversation and more follow-up questions.  You will become this person’s best friend because you have a general interest in what they have to say.

Help those tourists!

Only way to build confidence is to genuinely be in-tune when a tourist asks a question.  I don’t want you to just smile, but really move out of your own way to help them.

Two months ago I saw two foreigners lost on the BTS and they were talking about going somewhere. They asked me where, and I told them they can get off at one particular stop.  I then went on my phone and saw that the station they were going to was not on my side of town, so I quickly told them what to do, get off at Saphan Taksin, go downstairs and take the pier to #8 where Thon Buri train station will be.  They were unbelievably grateful.  This is called doing for others without any expectation of getting anything back.

If a foreigner comes to you (and the Japanese are magicians at this), take them or at least direct them where to go.  Don’t just point and walk away like a douche (lots of people in Hong kong were like that, lol). If you’re trying to think about it, put your hand on your chin to show them you’re thinking and you’re not just being a douche.

Here are a couple techniques for this week and stay tuned for more!

Podcast

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