Knowing how to keep a conversation going is a skill that can be useful your entire life. Being able to talk for longer periods can cause relationships to strengthen and can be a way to know more about each other.
Learning this skill can be a hard task and will ultimately take time. Getting better at conversations will take a lot of practice. Sometimes conversations simply dry up and awkward silences will be experienced. But how do you keep a conversation going? In this article we will teach you exactly how to keep a conversation going!
1. Know the setting of your conversation
Before we get into the tips that will help you during your conversation, we need to tell you about the setting of your conversation. Every conversation has a different time and place.
For example, a conversation in a crowded shopping centre will be completely different to a conversation in a fancy restaurant. A conversation in a crowded shopping centre will be less long and less into depth than a conversation in a fancy restaurant.
This is because of the setting of the conversation, a fancy restaurant will have a more relaxed setting, that will encourage longer conversations. Understanding the setting of your conversation will help you know what topics are appropriate and how long your conversation should be.
The topics when you talk with a guy could be different to the topics when you talk to a girl.
The following tips will help you learn how to keep a conversation going with a guy and with a girl!
2. Ask open-ended questions
The best way to keep a conversation going is by letting the other person or people in the conversation talk. But what do I ask? Ask open-ended questions about anything, this could be the standard small talk questions like the weather, events happening, the latest news or anything remarkable that happened.
But what if there is nothing to talk about? Try asking open-ended questions about their personality or experiences. People simply love talking about themselves. Multiple researches have drawn the conclusion that the majority of all conversations are about themselves.
Want to know more about why people love talking about themselves? Read this article: The Neuroscience of Everybody’s Favorite Topic
To give you a better visualization of how these open-ended questions are put into practice, we will show you some examples of some close-ended questions and some open-ended questions.
Closed-ended questions are questions that can be answered within a single sentence or word.
What are examples of closed-ended questions?
- Are you feeling good today?
- Do you have a brother?
- Do you also hate onions?
Open-ended questions are questions that are answered with multiple sentences.
What are examples of open-ended questions?
- What did you do this weekend?
- Why do you like playing soccer?
- What do you think about this news article?
The best thing about open-ended questions is that you can actually listen to your conversation partner and think about new open-ended questions at the same time. This brings us to our next tip.
3. Listen to you conversation partner & show interest
We just taught you that letting the other person or people talk will be beneficial, because people love talking about themselves and other subjects. People also love it when others actually listen to what they say. This will especially be appreciated if you are networking.
To let others know that you have listened you can do the simple nod or the casual “hm”. An even better option you just learned is asking open-ended questions that further engage in the conversation. Let’s give an example of how this can be done with a certain scenario:
Scenario: Your colleague has been on a vacation to France and you asked him what he did on his vacation. He told you that he spent his mornings working in an olive garden and that he spent his afternoon by surfing on the beach.
Based on this information that you have gathered in the conversation you can ask your colleague the following open-ended questions:
- Why did you choose to go to France?
- How did you end up as an olive garden worker?
- When did you start surfing?
This process of getting new open-ended questions out of the previous question can be repeated as many times as you want. You do not want the conversation to seem like an interview though, so try to find some commonalities where you can talk about. There is also a high possibility when you talk about a commonality, that your conversation partner will ask you questions in return.
This showing of interest will establish a better connection with your conversation partner and could result in a better friendship or business relationship.
Want to know more about networking? Read our article: Networking & why it is so Important for Entrepreneurs
4. Don’t be afraid of silence
A lot of people have a misconception about silences within conversations. Most of the silences within conversations are not even meant to be silent. For example, you ask a question and someone is thinking of an answer. This is not meant to be a silence and this will only get awkward if you make it uncomfortable with your own composure.
Staying calm within these silences will make your conversation partner more comfortable.
Another way to deal with silences is by thinking of topics before you have a conversation.
This can be anything, think about sports, upcoming events and recent news articles.
Sometimes a silence comes up, because there are no topics left to talk about.
This whole silence can be prevented by feeling if the conversation is going to dry up anytime soon and just ending it after being finished with the last topic. This is all dependant on the setting of your conversation, because you cannot walk away from every situation, think about the fancy restaurant.
In this case where you have talked about several topics and feel like there is no topics left, but you have to stay with your conversation partner, look around and see if there are any posters or things in the area that you can talk about.
For example, if there is a poster about a certain movie, talk about movies or the movie itself or if there is a public transportation nearby, ask if they use public transportation and if so what type of transportation.
This video from Practical Psychology can help you learn more on how to keep a conversation going.
5. Read the emotions of your conversation partner
One of the most important things that you need to do during your conversation is looking at the emotions of your conversation partner. If your conversation partner is really excited when he talks about a certain subject, ask more questions about this subject. This will show them you are listening and will further show them that you are actually interested. This will be appreciated.
Some topics that are commonly talked about with excitement and passion:
The complete opposite could also be possible. You feel that your conversation partner is getting sad or even getting annoyed. When this happens, try to talk about a different subject. These subjects can also be thought of before your conversation. Some topics that are nearly never good to talk about:
- Death of family members, friends or pets
6. Try to practice as much as possible
Just like nearly every other thing in life, you need to practice before you become an expert.
Conversation skills are something that take time and practice. Do not expect to become a conversation expert within a day or week. People with good social skills have practiced for years before they got at their current level.
But remember, it is not only knowing how to keep a conversation going, it is also about knowing how to keep the conversation comfortable and enjoyable. This applies to both parties, stay interested and be attentive to your conversation partner.
How to keep a conversation going over text?
The exact same tips apply to having conversations over text. You need to know who you are talking with, what you are for them and what time of the day it is. Because you cannot for example text your boss on a Saturday evening with a picture of you and your friends having fun in the club.
To keep a conversation going, you need to ask open-ended questions that will keep the conversation going with new open-ended questions. Reading people’s emotions can be difficult through text, but just make sure you try to talk about positive topics that excite people.
Whenever your conversation runs dry through text, you can always send a funny picture or meme, this will bring up new topics. Sometimes when you send a funny picture or meme, people will send you a funny picture or meme in return, this will let you know if they liked your joke and this will also let you know their sense of humour.
We hope you learned how to keep a conversation going! With some practice we are sure you will become an expert in the near future!
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