Hi, everybody! I am Georgiana, your English teacher and founder of SpeakEnglishPodcast.com. My mission is to help you speak English fluently.
In this episode, let's look at some bad strategies and attitudes that don't quite work in conversation. I mean, like having awkward conversations.
Next, you'll practice your fluency with a mini-story lesson—the best way to learn to speak English without translating mentally.
All right, have you ever been with someone and not know what to talk about? It's happened to me sometimes. Every once in a while, we run into situations where it's difficult to continue the conversation.
One example is what happens in an elevator. Imagine that you meet a neighbor you hardly know, and a typical dialogue ends up going like this:
— It's cold today, isn't it?
— Yes, yes. It's going to be like this all week, they say...
As you can see, this conversation is not very intellectual. It's more about avoiding silence, which can be uncomfortable.
This doesn't just happen in elevators but in all kinds of social interactions. I read recently that a silence of four seconds or more triggers anxiety.
It doesn't get any better when you have to speak in a language you are learning. You have even fewer resources to express yourself.
Today we are going to see which topics or strategies do not work well in conversations, especially with strangers. The goal, I think, is to have a somewhat interesting conversation.
Come on, let's move on to the first one:
Talking about the weather
Talking about the weather is not a bad thing, but if we only talk about it or any other obvious things, we are not going to make a good impression.
Now I can think of a couple of situations where talking about the weather is an awful strategy.
— A first date:
Talking for 45 minutes about whether it's raining or hot or cold or windy isn't going to make you more attractive.
— Job interview:
Let's see...you don't know what to say...better not start commenting that it's a cold and foggy morning.
However, there are also exceptions. If you have a date with someone who works in meteorology or your job interview is to work as a meteorologist... well, yes, of course, you have to talk about the weather, right?
Let's see the next one:
You don't listen.
Yeah, I know it seems obvious, but... many people don't know how to listen, and it shows. When you really listen, you can find many ways to continue the conversation engagingly.
Sometimes people just pretend to be listening. They repeat the last part of what you say in the form of a question.
— When I was on vacation in Rome, it rained all week.
— The whole week?
— Yes, and we had to buy umbrellas.
— Yes, and Bill Gates gave us all his money.
— All his money?
— Yeah... and you don't listen.
— I don't listen?
Well, you see what I mean, right?
How to say it.
It is not only important what to say, but how to say it.
The most common mistakes are:
— Talking too fast. Sometimes people need a slower pace to understand the message better. Not everyone is familiar with what you are saying.
— Speak too softly. Shy people sometimes speak too softly and are hard to understand.
— Speak without articulating well. Some people do not pronounce well, and it is difficult to follow what they say. It's better to speak clearly.
— Speak without pausing. It is better to pause from time to time and observe how the other person reacts.
Talk about something negative.
Another mistake that some people make is to talk about a negative topic to strangers. I really don't recommend that.
Talk about something boring.
I don't think it's a good idea to talk for half an hour about what color you want to paint the bedroom wall. You have to know how to choose your topics. Basically, for you, it can be relevant, but not for the other person.
There are many ways to mess things up, but a common one is to assume something is true when it is not.
Let's look at some examples of messed-up conversations:
The first one:
— Well, you're pregnant. How many months?
— No, I'm not pregnant.
Oops! The poor woman may have been a few pounds overweight. So, don't assume anything!
The second one:
— Ah, how beautiful your wife is and how young!
— No, she's not my wife. She's my daughter. And she's a minor.
Again... oops! It's better not to assume this kind of thing. In fact, the other way around is also wrong.
— Ah, it's good you're coming with your mother.
—She's not my mother. She's my wife.
We also have to be careful with criticism.
Especially when you do not know the type of relationship between the person you are talking to and the one you are criticizing.
For example, if you're at a wedding:
— Food is very scarce. Not much money has been spent.
— What a pity! I'll tell my brother, who paid for everything.
Get the transcript on my website: speakenglishpodcast.com/podcast/
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