Ah, the charm of a great conversation. Have you ever spoken to a beautiful shell–someone smartly groomed and dressed to the nines–who you struggled to speak with for longer than a few minutes? Yeah.
In Practical Glamour I go on about how holding your own, conversation wise, is a big part of a woman’s (or man’s) allure.
But being an engaging conversationalist requires you to have a bit or more of knowledge about the world. This will contribute much to your social ease, make your get-togethers more interesting and bump up your beauty and charm quotient considerably.
Do we remember what a person wore, their watch or the color rouge they sported? No. What we remember is how we felt around them.
No doubt, hanging with a sparkling glitterball of a conversationalist is far richer than struggling for words with a blank-faced one, no matter how symmetrical their features.
So,knowledge is the key to powering your social conversations.
Here are 5 easy, painless ways to sneak more of it into your brain, and become more beautiful as a result.
1 – Discs and iPods, too. Sandra Mitchell is a busy woman. She is a journalist and anchor at CBS Los Angeles and does a gazillion other things too. She told me she learned French for a trip to Europe, and did so via language CDs she played in her car during fun LA traffic.
The hours can add up in that metal thing you coast around in. Why not have those hours mean something more than a staring session at brake lights in front of you? Learn a new language or pick up info about an entirely new topic. Download something inspirational on your iPod to stay calm while driving and to keep your mental mind machine humming. And if you commute by foot, train or rickshaw, do the same!
2 – Radio Lives. There’s plenty to learn about in your car, from politics and relationship counselors to sports. I can analyze debates, and tune into sports talk from time to time because it’s interesting to hear others so passionate about something I’ve got no stake, or even strong interest, in. Also, I find Jim Rome and Jay Mohr to be pretty clever.
Public radio arts programming tends to be very well crafted and engaging. Plus it spotlights new works and maybe goings on in your city or town that you’d probably otherwise never know about. How the heck else did I learn that skin master Dr. Murad is also a painter (above, the painting in the photo is his) and was having an exhibit at a local university?
3 – Small Books Make Great Fellow Travelers. To boost your mind salad and improve your conversations, carry a book with you. Yes, that’s a copy of the Constitution and The Declaration of Independence peeking out of my bag.
Your book doesn’t have to be the size of a dictionary, either. Kindles and Nooks qualify.
The problem that some people (me included) have with whipping out a smartphone for learning a go-go is the tendency to stare at stuff that does zero to advance your mind. Or worse, numbs it or puts you in an annoyed mood.
There’s also something to be said for taking a gadget break, and feeling actual paper against your fingers. If you’re incredibly disciplined, though, and can immediately bypass the distractions to dial up the Swedish Word of the Day or something that has intellectual value, go ahead. And congratulations on the discipline part, Missy or Mister.
4 – Food, Too. I was at makup shop MUD in Burbank recently. (Side note: They have complimentary makeup classes in LA and New York.) After walking out the door with yet another tube of Lip Glaze, I realized I was famished.
I ended up wandering into a nearby Korean barbecue place and learning a thing or two about Korean cuisine over a big ole’ bowl of Manduguk. My point? We’ve all got to eat sometime. Why not stir in a bit o’ learning? Find out what distinguishes China’s Szechuan cooking from Hunan. How are Indian dishes from the North different than those in the South?
Becoming a better conversationalist is not about becoming Knowledge Master of the Universe as much as it is about broadening what you already know. Dipping into alien subjects, gathering up a slew of cool facts and becoming more astute about the world around you.
5 – Work Out Your Head. The reality of grasping a new language is that you’ve got to use it. You’ve got to stand in line? Make it Rehearsal Time or List Time. Mentally run through new vocabulary or verb tenses.
Or use the time to ponder something you’ve been studying. If I’ve got a speaking or teaching gig coming up, I’ll rehearse it while taking a walk. Tip: When running lines say them aloud. I think I’m past the point of caring too much if I look kooky to strangers, but here are two ways to practice what you want to on the down-low: Keep lip movements small and your volume nearly imperceptible.
Bonus Learning Move: Make meeting up with a friend more than just a gab session. I have a friend who is at the same level of Spanish proficiency as me. We have Spanish-only conversations over coffee or dinner that have been pretty great for moving my skills forward, mostly because it’s a no-embarrassment environment to try out new tricks, language wise.