Good conversation is an art form. As any art, it requires constant practice of those who wish to remain at the top of their game. In some relationships, one person is talkative and outgoing, while the other is shy and says little. This creates an imbalance that can make the outgoing partner feel dismissed and the shy partner feel ignored. Keep up your end of the conversation by honing several important skills.
Practice Active Listening
A cornerstone of mental health therapy, active listening is equally crucial in any meaningful relationship. As the U.S. Department of State explains, active listening means seeking to understand rather than to be understood. Remaining open and nonjudgmental, focus solely on your girlfriend and give nonverbal cues that you are following what she says. Allow each statement to sink in for a moment before responding. Ask follow-up questions and seek clarification when needed.
Balance Give and Take
In an article for "Psychology Today," writer Temma Ehrenfeld points out that good conversation requires both partners to express their opinions. When it is your turn to talk, think out loud. Develop your opinion while you are speaking. Use colorful, descriptive language and flesh out each point with details. Avoid monologuing, or going on and on for more than a couple of minutes, but sidestep the tendency to answer in one or two words. If you are naturally quiet, set a goal of saying something every five minutes or contributing something meaningful at least five times during each conversation. If you tend to monologue, make a mental note to cut your speech at the two-minute mark.
Use Humor Sparingly
Laughter creates good feelings and builds bonds, so intersperse it throughout your conversations. Light, humorous remarks and in-jokes make your partnership feel better. Be careful not to overdo it, though. Your girlfriend wants a supportive, mature male, not a 24-hour comedian. Avoid making her the brunt of jokes unless you are sure she is comfortable with it, and tone down the humor when she is in a serious mood. Also use caution when texting, as sarcasm and wit do not always translate well in writing.
Build on the Conversation
One of the key techniques in improvisational comedy is a concept known as “Yes, And.” No matter how ridiculous, ludicrous or nonsensical one performer’s statement or action is, his scene partner is obligated to accept it at face value and then build on it to keep the scene moving forward. Incorporate this technique into your conversations by resisting the urge to dismiss topics that are not your favorite. When your girlfriend makes a statement, build on it. Ask a follow-up question, express your opinion or share a story about something similar that happened to you.
Keep Up With Events
It is tough to be a good conversationalist if you are unaware of the world around you. Keep an eye on the news. Note exciting, dangerous or strange events that happen in your neighborhood or across the globe, and share them with your girlfriend. Keep up with her life as well. If she mentions an upcoming meeting at work or lunch with friends, make a mental note. Follow up with her to find out how things went. Holding numerous threads in mind makes you appear interested and engaged with her.
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