The Misapplied Versions Of Some Valuable Conversation Skills

It's awesome if you can develop certain high-end social skills, like being a great listener or a captivating storyteller. However, sometimes these well-honed abilities can be misused and turn into warped, off-putting versions of themselves. If you're fortunate enough to build some social talents it's important not to get complacent or too high on yourself. Every so often check whether you're falling into any bad habits.

Being a good storyteller

If you're a polished raconteur with an arsenal of entertaining anecdotes at your disposal, you might turn into a conversation monopolizer. Every time someone says something that vaguely connects to one of your stories, you take the opportunity to launch into it. You don't ask or test the waters to see if everyone wants to stop to hear your tale. You just assume they want to bring the rest of the discussion to a halt so you can talk at them for five minutes.

You may also have the ability to transform a quick report of a mildly amusing mishap that happened while you were running an errand into a fleshed out drama with multiple story arcs. It's an impressive skill, but the question to ask yourself is, "Do I have to do this right now? Does a short account of how I had trouble getting my card to work at the gas station need to be turned into an epic saga? Does everyone really want to give me the spotlight for that long?"

Being really funny

If you're naturally good at making people laugh you can let it take over your personality. You turn everything into a joke. You're rarely, if ever, able to be serious, or even interact in a casual, low-key way. You may get addicted to the validation that comes from cracking everyone up, and constantly joke around, even though your friends aren't in the mood. You may be such a hilarious force of nature that you blot out everyone else's sense of humor and don't give them a chance to shine. If you meet a person or group that isn't into your type of humor you may double down and try too hard to get a laugh, rather than connecting with them in another way.

Being really interesting

It's great if you've got a lot of intriguing, thought provoking, entertaining facts and opinions to share, which you know how to present in an engaging way. It just needs to be paired with an ability to discern what other people are open to hearing about. Without that sub-skill you can become someone who goes on and on about some article on nuclear fusion they read the other day, even though no one's in the mood to talk about that subject. You may also start throwing too many disconnected fun facts into your conversations, and seem a bit too random.

Being a good listener

This is a social skill where many people know the potential pitfalls. One of them is that if you listen too much, and don't take your time to speak and focus on things you want to talk about, you can condition people to see you as a blank slate therapist who's only there to support them. Even if you don't go into full Counselor Mode, if you mostly take the listener role you can send people the message that the discussion is all about them, and you have no needs of your own. At worst, you can end up in unfulfilling relationships with self-absorbed types.

Being really good at keeping a conversation going, if even you have to carry most of the weight

If someone's nervous, a tad dull, or you don't have much in common, you don't cave under the pressure, and have a toolbox of tricks to keep the interaction humming along. It can create the false impression that you enjoy someone's company more than you actually do, when you really just wanted to avoid patches of awkward silence. You may get someone's hopes up that they've found a new friend, when you really could chat this way with anyone. At times, if you don't click with someone it's actually better to let that incompatibility show itself just a little. Don't be a full-on aloof jerk, but don't go out of your way to create an artificially engaging, misleading interaction, so everyone knows there's not a match.

Being effortlessly charming and magnetic

Some people can't help but be extremely charismatic with everyone they talk to. If you reach these lofty heights the risk is that you can make people think you're captivated by them and want to start a friendship, when you're actually indifferent at best, and just act this way around everyone. Even though you didn't purposely set out to hurt anyone's feelings, you can end up breeding resentment. You'll charm someone, and they'll be excited about getting to know you better, than feel deceived and shafted when they realize your actions were an empty habit. Even if you can be ultra-likable, sometimes it's better to dial it down and act like an everyday person.