How to Keep a Conversation Going
Have you ever felt anxious about maintaining a conversation? If your answer is a sounding “yes”, take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. A lot of people have the same dilemma. Here’s a sample scenario, you’re in a snack bar, and someone you admire came in and asked if she can join you at your table because the place is full. How will you handle the situation, considering that it’s your ultimate chance to make an impression?
In a perfect world, everything would go smoothly, and sparks would fly to emphasize your blissful luck. However, in reality, you cannot just leave everything to luck or chance. You have to come up with a good conversation to make the moment count or to spark her interest. Otherwise, such an opportunity would just pass you by.
Carrying out a good conversation requires humility and sincerity. If you think that confidence and a perky attitude are all that matters, you’re just seeing half of the picture. The other half depends entirely on how you handle the situation and how sensitive you are as a person.
Let’s explore the different ways to keep a conversation going;
1. Start on a Positive Note.
Random greetings such as; “it’s nice to see you here”, “it’s good to have company”, or “hey, what’s up?” may sound way too cliché and familiar, but they are warm greetings that acknowledge a person. Keeping the conversation on a positive note can help you relax, knowing that you were able to put your best foot forward.
2. Gather Your Thoughts Before Speaking.
Don’t get too excited to speak. Short and random silences are way better than saying things that don’t make sense at all. So take your time to gather your thoughts before opening your mouth. Don’t mind the brief momentary silence because it’s completely natural to be at a loss for words when you’re trying to absorb a situation.
Remember that it’s better to deal with an awkward silence than saying something that you’ll regret later on. So don’t let the excitement or overwhelming feeling get the best of you.
3. Ask Open-ended Questions.
An effective way to keep the conversation going is by asking open-ended questions. These are questions that require more elaborate answers rather than a short “yes” or “no”. Asking such questions encourages the other person to talk and open up. While in the process, you can buy yourself some time to think about your next move.
Examples of open-ended questions are; “what do you think about this event?” and “what is it that you like the most about this place?” If you want to infuse a little flattery, you may ask questions such as; “knowing just how busy you are, how do you manage your time?” or “I would love to hear your opinion about this matter”, followed by a question that requires specific details.
Open-ended questions that are witty and thought-provoking are good ways to establish rapport with the person you are talking to. It is one way of expressing your interest or even concern, which the other person may find pleasing. Sure enough, it’s also one way of drawing a positive impression in an indirect manner.
4. Talk About Things That Are Timely and Relevant.
One of the best ways to engage a person in a conversation is to talk about timely and relevant topics. Topics that encourage a healthy exchange of ideas and opinions make up a good interaction.
Examples of such topics are major sporting events, concerts, movies, newly-launched bars, festivals, and yearly occasions like Christmas, Valentines, and Thanksgiving, among others. Otherwise, think about anything that currently makes people excited.
Topics that should be avoided at all cost are politics, religion, and racial issues. Such sensitive topics are taboo and they usually trigger arguments and conflicts. To maintain a positive conversation, try to stay away from controversial subjects.
5. Listen Intently to the Person Who’s Talking.
A worthwhile conversation is a two-way process. That’s why it’s called “exchange of ideas”. This means that you shouldn’t be too eager about what you’re going to say the whole time. You also have to give as much importance to listening because your thoughtful responses contribute to a meaningful conversation.
If you listen intently to what the other person is saying, you can respond appropriately and give a piece of your mind about the matter. This paves the way to a free-flowing conversation that fosters new ideas which you can expound to keep things going in the right direction.
6. Focus on the Conversation and Stay Interested.
In this technology-driven world, people fail when it comes to focusing on an actual conversation. We’re guilty of this to some extent. There is always an urge to check on our phones while talking to someone. It seems that taking out our phones in the middle of a discussion is the easiest way to dismiss a conversation or to avoid talking and listening to someone.
How would you feel if you’re talking and the other person takes out their phone and starts texting or browsing social media? Regardless of how common this thing happens, it can be quite insulting and disappointing to some extent. To some people, it’s also bothersome, especially if the phone gets in the way of an important conversation. Using your phone while someone is talking is the perfect way to ruin the moment.
If you intend to engage in a friendly talk and feel comfortable with someone you like, you have to learn how to focus. The first step is to avoid taking out your phone unless it’s completely necessary. Focusing on the conversation is the best way to express how interested you are to talk and socialize.
Tips on How to Converse Effortlessly
You don’t have to go through a series of personality development programs to become a good conversationalist. There’s a lot that you can do on your own to boost your skill and charisma. If you think that keeping a conversation is challenging, take comfort because it’s something that you already have in you. It’s within human nature to talk, interact, and socialize with each other. You just need to develop and practice it.
Here are some tips on how to have conversations effortlessly so you can achieve a healthier social life and establish better relationships.
1. Don’t feel intimidated.
Feeling intimidated is one of the factors that hinder our abilities to converse naturally. Oftentimes, we lose our confidence because we think that the other person is better than us, that we end up feeling small or insecure. Cut yourself some slack and think of people as equals regardless of their looks and achievements.
You are not different from others, and we all have the same anatomy. So don’t feel intimidated, and give your best in every conversation.
Overcome your self-consciousness by practicing. Think of a certain topic and draw ideas from it. One of the best ways to maintain a conversation is by knowing that you’re able to transform your ideas into words. For example, think of a song or movie; and try to talk about it in front of the mirror. What is it all about? What emotions does it trigger?
Talking in front of the mirror allows you to see yourself as you share your thoughts and ideas, including your gestures and facial expressions. It enables you to view yourself as a speaker. As a result, you can assess your manner of communicating based on how you see yourself in the mirror.
3. Work on your vocabulary.
A practical way to improve your ability to maintain conversations is by being selective of your words. Using appropriate and decent terms can precipitate a positive impression. This is because your manner of speaking and choice of words says a lot about the kind of person you are.
Keep in mind that every conversation you engage in is an opportunity for you to gain people’s respect and interest. Therefore, make these moments count by using a language that draws out positive responses.
4. Learn how to respect other people’s opinions.
As humans, we are all entitled to our opinion. This is because we have our own minds, values, and beliefs. Oftentimes, how we see and understand things differ significantly with that of others. This causes conflicts and misunderstandings, especially if we’re unable to handle the situation properly.
To maintain good conversations, be open-minded enough to accept that people have different points of view regarding certain matters. Acknowledging the fact that our opinions may differ from one another is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of respect and maturity.
To keep a conversation going in a positive direction, don’t insist on being right or being better than the others. Just accept that we are all entitled to what we believe in; and this should not get in the way of how we treat each other.
5. Be honest if you don’t know anything about the topic.
Don’t pretend to be someone who knows everything. It’s acceptable to admit that you’re not familiar with the topic and that you don’t have anything to share about it. Being honest can spare you from being haunted by the memory of the scenario later on. It can also keep you from messing up.
The best way to approach the situation is by asking questions and listening intently to the answer. By doing so, you can gain something out of the conversation by turning it into a learning experience. More importantly, you’re able to maintain the conversation by encouraging the other person to explain to you the topic.
The Bottom Line
Maintaining a conversation should not cause you anxiety or distress. When in doubt, just ask questions. Don’t feel intimidated, and continue developing your social skills. Acknowledge the fact that you can always do better with each conversation, and you are free to speak your mind. Each person is unique and has a story to tell.
Here’s the bottom line; focus on the quality of your conversation rather than on the quantity. You don’t have to spend a lot of time talking because in the end, what matters most is what you’ve gained from the conversation and not how much time you’ve spent talking.