How to elaborate in conversations

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Last week was the Eid holiday, and as we were catching up with friends and family, I had an idea of what to write about. Elaboration. Learning how to elaborate is a skill and requires practice.

You see, I’ve always been more of a listener than a speaker in conversations. I’m usually the one asking people questions and I enjoy listening to people share their stories or opinions.

So when people ask me a question, I tend to just answer without much elaboration and quickly ask the person another question.

Maybe I’ve always felt people would get bored listening to what I say. But I know that’s not true.

Does this sound like you?

If so, you need to know that there are times when you need to talk about what’s important to you, so that you too can feel understood and heard.

People are generally interested in what you have to say. You don’t have to think that they’re not interested in you. Maybe sharing an experience can inspire others or even help them understand their own feelings in a similar experience.

This is something that I’m working on myself, so I’m going to share how you can learn to elaborate. This is especially for people who are usually better at listening than talking.

If somebody asks you a question, it is a great opportunity to express yourself.

Answer the question, and from that answer, quickly think of one or two things you can elaborate on.

After you’ve finished elaborating, you can ask the person another question. Or it’s also likely that you both will find another point to discuss.

Example. Imagine you’re at an Eid party (or “open house” as we Malaysians like to call it). There, you meet an old friend that you haven’t met since secondary school. You start having a conversation with them.

Friend: It’s been so long since we last met! Where are you working now?

You: I’m working in KL. What about you?

This type of answer makes you sound uninterested and not open for conversation (unless that really is your intention 😀 ).

Here’s how you can answer the question with elaboration instead:

Friend: It’s been so long since we last met! Where are you working now?

You: Yes, it’s been so many years since we last met! I’m working for an oil and gas company, Patronus. We’re based in Kuala Lumpur. I’ve been working there for about five years now. What about you?

See how you can sound more interesting by just elaborating a few points about yourself? You can also start by acknowledging what your friend mentioned about not seeing each other for so long.

Practise elaboration at your next social function, so you can better express yourself and become more confident in sharing your ideas and opinions. It’ll also help you have even better conversations and deeper connections with people you talk to.

The more you practise elaboration, the better you’ll get.

So there you have it. I hope this post can help you have better conversations with friends and colleagues. 

We’ll talk to you again soon!

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Hi there!

We’re Azimah, Amnah and Aisya from Malaysia. We created My English Matters as an online platform to help people improve their English.

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