How do you keep a conversation going when there is awkward silence? How do you spark a conversation? What should you talk about? These are all questions that we ask ourselves when we are in the middle of a conversation with awkward silences, we seem to have trouble keeping it going and holding good conversation.
In this article, we will provide you with tips on how to keep conversations going naturally.
How to keep a conversation going naturally?
It can be difficult to keep the conversation going naturally. However, it is an important skill to learn because your ability to have meaningful conversation can ultimately affect your social life. People often like to spark conversation but it can sometimes feel forced or unnatural. A great way to combat this is to ask open ended questions.
1. Ask Open Ended Questions
An open ended question allows for great conversation to progress. These questions allow someone to respond with more than simply a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. They encourage a longer response and also provide an opportunity to explore conversation topics that the person may not have considered yet in regards to what they are currently talking about.
Examples of open-ended questions include:
- What did you do at work today?
- What is your favorite type of weather?
- What are you up to today?
- What was the best thing that has happened to you this week?
Open ended questions encourage people to share stories and moments from their day.
2. Ask Follow Up Questions
When conversations die off, usually it is because either one or both of the parties aren’t interested in continuing the conversation. So, letting a conversation die sends the message that you aren’t interested in continuing a conversation with that person. So, a great way to show that you are engaged is through asking further questions, which is also known as follow up questions.
If one of your friends tells you something, then ask them to talk more about it. For instance, if they mention a movie they just watched – you could follow up with questions such as:
- Was the story line interesting?
- Did you like that kind of genre?
- Was it worth seeing that movie in the cinema?
Asking follow up questions is a great way to keep the discussion going and show that you are interested in the conversation.
3. Avoid Asking Too Many Questions In A Row
If you ask too many questions in a row, it can make the other person feel like the conversation is more of an interrogation or interview rather than a conversation.
It’s always good to mix up the questions by asking something else after a few follow up questions. One way you can do this is ask them what they did at work today, or what their day was like overall.
This will make it feel like more of a natural conversation and not an interview where someone has to answer your every question. It can be easy to get into the habit of asking too many questions when meeting new friends but honing this skill is part of improving your social skills.
4. Find Mutual Things to Discuss And Avoid Talking About Yourself
How often do you find yourself in conversations that start out great but end with one person just sitting there while the other person talks endlessly about themselves?
It unfortunately happens all too often when talking with people who are self-centered or have no interest in really getting to know us on an emotional level. The truth is that people love talking about themselves.
When you are having a conversation with someone, make sure to find mutual things to discuss and try not to focus too much on your own life.
5. Avoid Coming On Too Strong
When meeting new people or a co worker for the first time it can be easy to come off as a little bit needy when we are too eager to talk. This can in-turn, result in people becoming reluctant to talk to you.
Take your time to get to know people. Make sure that you are approachable and come across as warm, so that people feel like they can approach you. Remember that good friendships take time to build.
Keep the conversation low key and pay attention to how engaged they are when it comes to getting to know you.
6. Make Sure to Maintain Eye Contact
Body language is important to take into account when it comes to having great conversations and building personal relationships. Maintaining eye contact, directly facing the person and providing feedback such as, nodding are the best ways to practice positive conversation behaviors.
7. Stay Well Informed
A good way to create small talk with people is to stay well informed. Take a few minutes everyday to read the news or articles that interest you. You could then use this information in conversations with a person or even share a funny story at a social event.
8. Keep It Positive
When you talk to people keep it light and positive. If someone shares something with you that aren’t interested in, don’t simply shut them down. That topic may really interest the other person and you don’t want to be rude.
Listen to their story and focus on what they are saying. Provide a response that will encourage them to keep sharing. It is important to remember that conversation is a two way street and good social skills involve making sure we are creating a positive and comfortable environment for the other person to share in.
9. Ask The Same Question Back
Another great way to keep a conversation going is by asking the same question back to the person that asked it to you first. More often than not, when someone asks you a question, they will be comfortable with you asking them the same question back.
An example of this may be if they ask you how your day has been, you can return the same question to them. This way they feel like their opinion is being valued and acknowledged while you talk.
10. Stay With The Discussion
When someone tells you something that interests or amuses you, don’t simply flit off onto other topics before responding to what they said. Stay with the conversation and engage appropriately, even if it is only small talk.
11. Request More Information If The Conversation Dies
Rather than ending a conversation abruptly if there isn’t much going on, ask questions related to what was mentioned earlier, so as not to leave the other person feeling awkward or uncomfortable.
12. Ask For Advice Or A Recommendation
A good conversation starter when you’re feeling stuck, is to ask the other person for advice or recommendations on a topic that interests them. This can be a great way to find out more about them and what they enjoy as well.
13. Stick to Safe Topics
When looking to start a conversation sticking to safe topics is a great way to begin. Safe topics could include talking about recreational activities, dreams, family and a person’s occupation.
14. Be Relatable
When it comes to great communication, people are usually drawn to others who they find relatable. Start conversations by talking about what you have in common with the other person such as, shared activities, their country of origin or where they live and work. This will create comfort for both parties and is a great way to get them engaged in your discussion from the start.
15. Ask A Question
Rather than just making statements, ask questions that require more thoughtful responses back. A previously mentioned, try asking open-ended style questions which may spark off an even more interesting response or one that reveals something different about them not previously known.
16. Look For Inspiration
Often when we are in new scenarios, the easiest way to talk to someone is by using the surrounding environment as inspiration.
Take for example you are at a wedding with people you have never met before. A great way to begin a discussion would be to say “Isn’t this venue beautiful? how do you know the bride and groom?”
How to Never Run Out of Things to Say (If You Blank Out)
1. Let Go Of Having The “Perfect” Thing To Say
The first way to never run out of things to say is by simply letting go. It can be hard because we all want to ensure that we say the perfect thing, or at least something that isn’t awkward and will help us get past any potential lull in conversation.
However, if you are really struggling with what to say, sometimes it’s best just to not filter yourself. Take the time to really listen to where the conversation is going and ask related questions. Don’t stress about how the person you are talking to will see you.
Don’t allow yourself to overthink, practice on friends and family. Remember that it is always better to say something that is not “perfect” than to say nothing at all.
Let go of being so concerned about what other people will think of you or how they may react to what you may say. Simply be yourself and enjoy the conversation. You may be surprised to know that your discussions will become even more interesting.
2. Always have at least one conversation starter ready to go.
Having at least one conversation starter up your sleeve will help you make sure that you never run out of things to say.
For example, a common question that people ask is “what have you been up to lately?” or “what’s new with you?” with questions like these, you could take a couple of minutes and think about anything that you did that week that you would want to talk about.
Thinking of something interesting to say is always better than simply responding with “I’ve just been working” or “I haven’t been up to too much”.
The basic rule of thumb is that when somebody asks you something, answer their question before moving on. Keep answering follow-up questions until one party feels like they’ve said too much or had enough.
This means that either they are ready to move onto another subject because they feel satisfied by your answers or have lost interest in continuing.
3. Have A Few Great Stories Ready To Go
Telling stories is a great way to ensure that you don’t run out of things to talk about. Research shows that it is beneficial to have at least three stories ready to go. Make sure they are stories that you’re passionate about and can speak at length on. The stories also need to not be dull, so ensure that you leave out any unnecessary or mundane details.
Make sure to set the scene of the story, establish who the people in the story are and what the obstacle is that they encounter and overcome.
Talking about something funny is always good if it came out recently enough that most of the group doesn’t know what happened – this becomes a relatable point for both parties, so there won’t be any awkward moments where everyone feels lost.
4. Always Be Attentive by Listening & Responding
Listening and responding is so important when it comes to building social skills and ensuring that you don’t run out of things to say. This is because they are the basis for fun and interesting conversation.
Quite often people respond before the person they are speaking to has even finished what they were talking about. This is a huge turn off when it comes to conversation because it sends a really clear message that you aren’t listening to what the person is actually saying.
Really listening and responding at the appropriate times shows that you are interested in what they are saying. If someone finishes talking about something, you should ask them follow up questions. The key to a great communication is ensuring all parties feel heard.
5. Think Around The Topic With The Spokes Method
The Spokes Method is a way of thinking around the topic when you are stuck and can’t come up with anything to say. You start by picking something that interests you about what they’ve been talking about, then asking a question based on your interest. This is often used in interviews or discussions where one person’s opinion really matters to the speaker more than other people’s opinions.
For example, if someone mentions how hard their day was at work, use this as an opportunity to ask them why they think it was so tough? “What happened at work today?” “Did anyone else have a similarly difficult time?” “Why do you think it ended up being such a bad day?”
Here are some conversation starter ideas that utilize the spokes method:
The conversation starter ideas involve; a quick story, opinions and recommendations.
A quick story:
I had an interesting experience the other day that I think might interest you?
What do you think about…
Have you seen…? Could be used to recommend a movie or TV show.
6. Be willing to “Go Deep” By Having Great Conversation Questions Ready
It is common to wonder how to go from surface conversation to deeper conversation. Great communication often involves asking questions and going deeper, which is a good way to get to know a person.
Questions that you could ask include:
- Tell me more about that
- Why …
- When did you realize that …
- What did you think?
- How does that make you feel?
- What was that moment like for you?
Allow the person to talk, elaborate and share whatever they are comfortable with sharing. Continue asking questions so that you can get to know your friends. Don’t become pushy or let it get too personal if that makes them uncomfortable.
Talking with them about their passions might also be fun to explore together. What do they enjoy doing? What hobbies do they like most? These types of questions will give insight into who someone really is, so don’t just stick to small talk.
Allowing conversations to become deeper is a great way to build a deeper friendship.
7. Utilize “Same Here” Moments
“Same here” moments are a perfect way to ensure that you don’t run out of things to say. This is because people love to discover things that they have in common with other people. It feels good to discover that you both like the same movie or have had similar life experiences.
If you are in the midst of a conversation and someone says something that you resonate with feel free to jump in with a “same here”, then it’s your turn to share what you’ve been through.
This will make them feel heard and appreciated and also show interest in their point of view. The more similarities people find out they have, the better friendships are likely to be as well.
8. Remember That Awkward Pauses Should Be Expected
It is perfectly normal for pauses to occur when we talk to people. In fact, it’s an inevitable part of any face-to-face conversation.
Pauses are necessary both to think about what comes next and for the other person to process and respond in turn. They also happen naturally when there is a natural break in dialogue such as changing topics or taking a sip of water.
When pauses do occur, choose not to see them as awkward. What you can do instead is either keep talking while waiting for the other person to gather their thoughts or reply back.
If they don’t seem ready yet, ask them another question that could lead them on with something interesting. This will help keep the flow going without awkward pauses becoming too long or uncomfortable.
How to Keep a Conversation Going Over Text
Keeping a discussion going over text is a lot more challenging than in person. This is because you can’t see the person’s body language or facial expressions when you are communicating with them.
You can keep a discussion going over text through:
- Keeping it light and fun
- Send an honest compliment
- Reference something the person has previously said
- Use emoji’s to enhance feelings, thoughts, etc.
- Utilize emojis for nonverbal cues that might not come across well on text such as, smiling or frowning faces, ketchup bottles, thumbs up/down gestures – Differentiate between what is said and how it was meant by adding an emoticon after the sentence like: “I’m glad we met.” (smiling face). This helps clarify any possible misinterpretations over text.
- Leave a cliff hanger text that will peak their curiosity, such as “The craziest thing happened to me today, I need to tell you about it”
- To keep the discussion going in person you should ask a variety of questions such as, “Tell me about your weekend,” or “What do you love most about being at school?” These will give them more things to talk about because they are broad and can be answered with many different stories.
Just like when you are in person, you should ask questions to get them talking about themselves, so that you can relate and provide more insight.
You want to make sure that the conversation is a two-way street, not just one person asking question after question without giving anything back in return.
Remember that it can be more difficult to communicate with someone via text, so you want to make sure that they feel like they are getting a response.
If someone texts “I’m going out tonight with my friends,” and then doesn’t respond to anything else, it can be frustrating for the person on the other end of the text.
Don’t leave it days before responding because this shows that you aren’t interested in conversing with them. If it does take you some time to respond because you have been busy, begin by saying “sorry for the slow response, I’ve just been caught up at work”.
The Bottom Line
To keep a conversation going, you need to be willing and able. Be ready with interesting stories, questions or topics that are related to what the other person is talking about but also have an underlying connection, so as not to appear opportunistic. Keep in mind that pauses happen naturally both for the other person and yourself and it’s important not to see them as awkward. Make sure to keep practicing small talk and continue working on your conversational skills. Over time, these techniques will become second nature for you and your social life will blossom as a result.