The ability to control a conversation ensures that you can steer a conversation in a positive direction that meets your needs. Whether you are using your conversation control to lead a business discussion or a personal talk, employing control techniques will prevent the conversation from heading into areas you don't wish to discuss and help you to leave a positive impression.
The easiest way to lead a conversation is through the use of questions. Many people enjoy the opportunity to hear their own voice and feel as if they are carrying the conversation. Ask the person you are talking with open ended questions that provide ample room to expand, but focus the questions on general areas of conversation you wish to address, and steered away from problem topics. In this way you control the conversation while allowing the person you speak with to feel comfortable and feel as if they are leading the conversation.
The use of positive phrasing as well as direct compliments to the individuals you are speaking to allows you to control a conversation by changing the mood. When receiving compliments the other individuals will take a more relaxed approach to the conversation as tension is lowered by feeling as if they must be doing a good job to receive the kind words. Be sure to use accurate compliments when using positive words, as over-the-top flattery will be seen through as phony and put off the individual with whom you are conversing.
Maintaining eye contact with the individual you are speaking to throughout the conversation serves two useful purposes for conversation control. First an individual that is not making eye contact during a conversation can appear untrustworthy or shifty. By establishing eye contact you are sending the message you have nothing to hide and are being honest. Additionally, eye contact shows that you are not afraid or intimidated by the individual you are talking to and, if they are not comfortable keeping eye contact and require breaks of contact, positions you in a spot of dominance in the conversation.
Causing the other individual in a conversation to feel mildly uncomfortable is an effective method of controlling a conversation and maintaining the upper hand. Many individuals will feel uneasy during a silence and attempt to fill in the silence to break the awkward moment. By injecting pauses into your conversation, where you wait for the other individual to speak and fill in the silence, can cause the individual you are speaking with to be thrown off, allowing you establish dominance and steer the conversation later as it progresses.