If someone uses these 13 phrases, they’re a great conversationalist

Great conversationalists stand out. 

They make us feel welcome, seen and valued in a way that many others simply don’t.

So what, exactly, makes them great? 

Here is a look at the key phrases that wonderful conversationalists use in their interactions which draw others to them and make them respected and well-liked. 

We can all learn from these conversational phrases and habits. 

Let’s dive in! 

1) “What do you think?” 

The first key habit of the great conversationalist is that they are curious about others. 

They check in with the person or people they are speaking with to see how they feel. 

This kind of question makes others feel included and valued. 

As Michael Hyatt writes:

“Nothing communicates value and respect to a person more than asking them what they think. Unless you’re giving a formal speech, every encounter should be a dialogue.”

2) “That reminds me of the one time…”

Extraordinary conversationalists are masters of anecdotes. 

They have funny, sad, interesting and brief stories from their past that make others fascinated and want to know more. 

They also know when to tell one of these stories and when people will respond well to it versus when it will be an awkward or busy time. 

This makes people excited and interested to talk to them as they’re never sure what cool memory will come up today. 

“Tell short stories that contain human emotion,” advises Ita Olsen

“I recommend arming yourself with an arsenal of anecdotes. Put some time in and think about your life experiences that have a moral or some human interest.”

3) “How could I help?”

Great conversationalists understand the primacy of action. 

As much as offering support and speaking is a wonderful thing, they know that sometimes offering actual help or practical assistance can be most valuable of all. 

So they cut to the chase and ask what they can do to help when somebody comes to them with a problem. 

“One way to deepen that connection, particularly if someone is telling you about a problem, is to use your smarts and your intuition to try to understand what the other person needs from you,” observes author Minda Zetlin.

4) “How was that experience?”

The superb conversationalist is able to ask questions that allow others to share. 

They open the door to other people to share their experiences and as little or as much as they wish. 

By asking how an experience was, for better or worse, they allow the conversation room to expand and allow empathy and sharing to grow. 

Speaking of empathy brings me to the next key phrase of a wonderful conversationalist… 

5) “That must have been hard for you.” 

Great conversationalists have an uncanny ability to put themselves in somebody else’s shoes. 

The phrase above demonstrates their willingness to think and feel what it must have been like for somebody they’re speaking with to be in a certain situation. 

They don’t say it as a cliche or because it’s “nice” to say, either, they say it out of real empathy. 

As Michael Palmer advises in a business context:

“Put yourself in the other person’s shoes when shaping your strategy. This ensures a balanced approach and will prepare you to not only support your position, but also to challenge any potential rebuttals.”

6) “What do you mean by that?”

The great conversationalist isn’t afraid to ask for clarification or more details. 

They let others open up further about their experiences, perspectives and thoughts by asking followup questions. 

It’s all about never assuming and always letting the other person explain for themselves what they mean. 

As Zetlin points out

“Truly listen to the other person and ask follow-up questions that can give you deeper insight into their point of view and experiences.”

7) “I’ve got your back.” 

phrases that make you more persuasive and influential If someone uses these 13 phrases, they're a great conversationalist

The excellent conversationalist is supportive. 

When they let somebody else know that they support them, they leave no room for ambiguity. 

Phrases like the above are them giving their word that they won’t jump ship and that they will look after this person. 

This reassures everybody and keeps the conversation going on a footing of trust and mutual respect

8) “Good point!”

Great conversationalists give positive feedback to those they are speaking with. 

Whenever possible, they try to reinforce what’s being said and show appreciation for the other individuals who are speaking. 

They aren’t afraid to disagree, of course, but generally speaking (and especially when first meeting folks), the great conversationalist does their best to be supportive and affirming. 

“A poker-face might help when you are playing cards, but it does not help build trust or develop relationships,” Hyatt notes. “People need to know that you are listening and understand them.”

9) “My passion is…” 

The excellent conversationalist is a sharer. 

He or she knows how to inject excitement, passion and fascinating subjects into even the most mundane interaction. 

They are willing to talk about their passions as a way to get things warmed up and often as an encouragement to others as well, for them to also open up about their passions!

This mutual sharing makes for great conversations and the formation of lasting bonds. 

“If you’re into politics, make sure you know what’s going on in the world; read the news. If you’re into astronomy, pick up some books and study up on the stars. 

“If you’re into food, start collecting an arsenal of recipes you love and ones you want to try,” points out Anna Marie Houlis.

10) “What’s your passion?” 

In addition to sharing their interests and passions, the great conversationist gives others the chance to share their passions. 

This opens everything up and raises the whole emotional tone of an interaction. 

That’s because people rarely get as excited and high energy as when they talk about what they love:

By giving them that chance, the great conversationalist raises the energy level and enjoyability of the whole conversation.

11) “What I mean to say is…”  

Great conversationalists are relaxed and open to what comes towards them. 

But they put a fair bit of thought into what they say. 

They’d rather say what they mean than just think out loud or speak in circles. 

For this reason, they will think through what they’re saying first and will not be afraid to correct what they have said if it came across in a way different from what they meant. 

“A good conversationalist thinks before they speak,” notes Houlis

“Instead of talking in circles or word vomiting all over their partner in conversation, they’ve thought out what they want to say and organized their thoughts in a way so that, when they verbalize those thoughts, their words are spoken clearly and accurately.”

12) “When I was in a similar position I…”  

Their strength at sharing anecdotes is one of the ways that great conversationalists increase empathy. 

They build bridges by thinking back to a time they were in a similar position as somebody they are speaking with. 

By sharing their own personal details and opening up and being vulnerable about their life, they display both maturity and high self-worth. 

They aren’t afraid to open up, especially about their flaws or painful experiences. 

As Jennifer Herrity writes:

“Revealing a personal detail is a great conversation-starter and is an equally great way to develop relationships with others.”

13) “Well, on another note…” 

Great conversationalists are excellent at introducing a casual segue into different topics. 

In some cases they may like to take a surface-level conversation a bit deeper and invite others along. 

They introduce it with phrases like the one above, delving into deeper subjects and matters in a way that’s natural and engaging. 

“Understand the cues whether the person is interested in more small talk or deeper conversations,” advises Amit Nagpal, Ph.D.

“Know where to draw the line or how much small talk is enough to break the ice.”

Picture of Paul Brian

Paul Brian

Paul R. Brian is a freelance journalist and writer who has reported from around the world, focusing on religion, culture and geopolitics. Follow him on www.twitter.com/paulrbrian and visit his website at www.paulrbrian.com

Enhance your experience of Ideapod and join Tribe, our community of free thinkers and seekers.

Related articles

Most read articles

Get our articles

Ideapod news, articles, and resources, sent straight to your inbox every month.