Starting and then Holding a conversation is one of the most important things a person can do both socially and professionally.

Those with outstanding conversational skills are more successful and have higher-paying jobs. The most powerful people in the world are often the best conversationalists. This has been found to be true in industry, politics, and the military. You can dramatically increase your conversational skills by avoiding the most common conversation mistakes.

Avoid these conversation killers:

1. Hogging the conversation. The whole idea of a conversation is to share information and opinions. That means the other person has an opportunity to speak, too. Limit how much you say before allowing the other person to respond. Be a considerate conversation partner.

2. Interrupting others. It’s rude and makes the other person defensive. Hopefully, you had the chance to complete your thoughts. Extend the same courtesy. You might think that you already know what the other person was going to say. That might be true, but it might not. You’ll never know unless you close your mouth and listen.

3. Raising inappropriate conversation topics. There are some things you can address with close friends that can’t be raised with strangers. A person you barely know might not be comfortable hearing about your colonoscopy or your unfolding divorce proceedings. Be appropriate. Consider a topic carefully before bringing it into the conversation.

4. A lack of attention. Are you listening or simply waiting for a chance to talk again? Are you paying attention or scanning the room for a friend? Are you being polite or looking for an opportunity to escape? Your ability to maintain a conversation and build your social circle is dependent on your ability to focus on your conversation partner.

5. Poor body language. Unfold your arms and appear more inviting. Pay attention to your facial expressions. Smile! You communicate a lot of information with your body language. * Keep your mannerisms under control. Do you like to talk with your hands? That can be acceptable in casual situations, but unprofessional in more formal circumstances. Ask a friend if you have any unusual or annoying mannerisms. They can be challenging to eliminate, but you’ll strengthen your ability to communicate effectively.

6. Checking your phone. In today’s world, many people are so attached to their phones, they can barely last three minutes without peeking. It’s a juvenile habit that conveys a lack of self-control and social grace. Others are offended when you take your attention away from the conversation and direct it to your phone.

7. Cursing. When is it appropriate to curse? That’s debatable, but you’ll never have a problem if you never curse. If that seems like a bridge too far, at least save your salty language for those times you’re alone with an old friend. You’ll never create a challenge for yourself by keeping your language clean.

8. Failing to make introductions. Ensure that you make introductions when appropriate. It can be unprofessional and dismissive to skip the introductions.

9. Poor pacing. Have you ever listened to someone that spoke very slowly? It can be frustrating, because your brain can understand speech that is quite rapid.

10. Forgetting names. People who forget names are bound to make a poor impression as it indicates that you don’t value the person and that his/her name is not worth remembering. It also attacks the Ego of that person whose name you don’t remember.

* Listening to someone that speaks very quickly can make you feel stressed or anxious. Find a word rate that is comfortable for you and acceptable to others.

You have a wide range to work with, so try to be reasonable. How good are your conversation skills? What if your skills were significantly better? Your social life, professional life, and confidence would all receive a big boost. Few people try to boost their conversation skills. That means there’s not a lot of competition. A little effort can provide fast and meaningful gains in numerous parts of your life.