We have all been there. The awkward silences between the conversations! The need to fill in the void but, having no clue how to! Meeting someone for the first time can be quite daunting for people not socially savvy. An awkward conversation can quite pleasantly ruin your opportunity to know a person. Not knowing how to keep a conversation going may even compel you to avoid meeting new people. However, that, if anything will harm your social life, categorizing you as a social alien. So, how to keep a conversation going and avoid any uncomfortable situation? Read on to know 8 amazing tricks that will not only help in keeping the words flowing but also help in establishing beautiful relationships.
8 Tricks to Keep a Conversation Going without Being Bored
Read-on to know 8 incredible tips that would surely be helpful to keep a conversation going, transforming you from a struggler to an expert conversationalist.
1- Ask Open-Ended Questions
Enough of those rigid yes, no questions now! It’s the time for open-ended questions. Now you may ask, what is an open-ended question, and why are they significant to keep a conversation going? Open-ended questions encourage the person to speak more. It allows room for expressing their thoughts and opinions contrary to the close-ended questions.
You may start a conversation with a close-ended question like how are you today? Or are you feeling good? etc. However, these questions can only act as conversation starters. Close-ended questions might break the ice in the room but will be of no use after a certain time has passed. To truly engage in a conversation you need to ask open-ended questions.
You can know a person on a whole new level if you engage in open-ended conversations. You may feel awkward at first, but trust me to keep a conversation going open-ended questions might just be your life savior. Ask about anything starting with the words Why, How, or use phrases like ‘tell me more about this, etc. Just go into the talk show host mode for a while but remember not to bombard the other person with questions. You wouldn’t want to come off as a rigid person and scare the other individual away in case you meet an introvert.
The bottom line is if you want to keep a conversation going and that too without sounding boring you need to ask open-ended questions. The aim here is to create an engaging and friendly environment first. Never jump straight into asking these types of questions rather start first with normal questions. You need to be patient while applying this trick as asking open-ended questions requires more effort and thought.
2- Be Spontaneous to Keep a Conversation Going
Remember, No Filtering! Often while in a conversation we tend to censor our words to make them socially acceptable. We tend to spend a lot of time rephrasing the words in our minds. In essence that’s engraved in the fear of rejection. People are afraid of saying something which others might not enjoy and thus label alienate them from society as a result.
However, in reality, people aren’t that harsh on others. They actually enjoy the company of others who are true to themselves. A person who is honest and open in a conversation is more welcomed than anyone who has to think a hundred times before saying even the simplest of things.
This is where blurting comes in. It is a conversational technique where you tend to speak just anything that comes into your mind. You would want to be a little cautious though. For instance, you can’t showcase the same friendliness or be wittier to a person you met for the first time than how are with your childhood friends. Trust and friendliness build over time.
So, try not to filter out your thoughts and rephrase your words as much as do it. People won’t judge you for saying something uncool and mostly, they don’t even notice it. Everyone is too cautious about themselves, thinking about how they come across. Go on with the flow unless something really offensive comes to your mind. You wouldn’t want to hurt anyone’s sentiments while already struggling to keep a conversation going.
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3- Be Genuinely Interested in the Conversation
Nothing kills off a conversation and a potential friendship faster than lack of interest does. To keep a conversation going you might incline towards asking questions, but don’t just do it for the sake of asking questions. Show people that you are genuinely interested in the conversation.
While there are some do’s which will help you develop an interest in any conversation there are also some don’ts to avoid. Among the list of don’ts, using mobile phones or checking it after two to three minutes instantly kills the spark that you started off with.
Looking at the clock or turning away your body is also a conversation killer.
Also, dismissing what the other person says is used by people commonly too. However, this practice is highly unethical and impolite. One should never cut off another person by saying phrases like, ‘I know how it feels.’ or ‘that happened to me as well.’ etc. In reality, no two persons can go through the exact same experience. The crux might be the same but the details won’t be. Thus, you should always encourage the other person to finish what they started instead of being rude by dismissing them off.
Coming to the do’s, start by maintaining eye contact during the conversation. This will encourage the other person to share more because you are listening with all your senses. Use phrases like ‘interesting’ or ‘tell me more’ to let them open up a bit. Show people that you genuinely feel and care for them by giving them time to talk. Always maintain a balance between asking and sharing.
Lastly, people love to hang around others who are interested in them. Try showing a bit of interest and people would want to talk to you even more.
4- Maintain Eye Contact
‘ The eyes are the window to your soul.’William Shakespeare
There’s no denying the fact why this maxim gets all the hype in the world. Eyes are surely the reflection of your soul. You can distinguish between an honest and dishonest person merely by looking into their eyes for a while. The notoriously famous trick used by police to detect whether a person is truthful or dishonest.
When talking specifically about communication, it indeed is helpful. Steady eye contact makes the other person realize that you are interested in what they have to say. Eye contact encourages the other person and motivates them to be open. It is therefore an important skill used in communications whether formal or informal.
An example of formal communication can be an interview. You may recall how the interviewer’s gaze was steady and direct. In certain instances, it might have made you uneasy as well. But, that is just a trick used by employees to scale their confidence and assertiveness.
In an informal setting like in a conversation with a friend or even your partner, a lack of eye contact may instantly turn them off. It would signal a lack of interest on your part therefore, people would avoid you if you don’t maintain proper eye contact. Also, you wouldn’t want to stare or glare at the other person constantly because that would look creepy. According to the Michigan State University publication, one should maintain eye contact for 4-5 seconds at least. Anything above or below that may come across as being meek or contrarily rude.
In a nutshell, maintain proper eye contact if you want to keep a conversation going. For eye contact instantly depicts your interest and attentiveness to the other person.
5- To Keep a Conversation Going Practice Active Listening
Good listening skills are more important to keep a conversation going than good speaking skills. In today’s world where everyone is always in a rush, wanting to make their story heard, there’s little room left for listening. However, you have to give the other person a chance to speak and listen actively as much as you want yourself to be heard.
Stephanie Chung, an executive coach, trainer as well as a contributor for Inc. writes that active listening has four phases to master. You go from focusing your attention on the speaker to interpreting the meaning of the conversation. While interpretation though a seemingly simple task is not so simple in reality. While communicating with people you often tend to interpret the meaning without keeping in mind the speaker’s perspective. This misinterpretation gives rise to misunderstandings and therefore a potential friend can be deemed a foe by our brain.
For active listening, you need to focus on the non-verbal cues along with the verbal message. Focusing your attention on all the tiny details will help you understand the real meaning of their words.
Then comes the third phase i.e. acknowledgment of the speaker’s viewpoint. You always have to be gentle and kind towards other people while in a conversation. This is why it is important that you never dismiss what the other person is saying rather acknowledge them.
After the acknowledgment, comes the final phase of confirming what you interpreted. Here you have to summarize and redirect the information towards them. This ensures and encourages the speaker to say more. It also helps in building trust between people. At the end of the day, everyone likes to be heard and acknowledged.
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6- Be Friends with Silence
As much as the importance of effective communication is stressed, little has been done to unveil the power of silence. Silence is a powerful tool used in effective communication. The power of silence is often underscored. However, silence plays a crucial role in any conversation.
Firstly, silence is a part of every conversation. It has different connotations to it. Sometimes, silence may imply that the speaker is in deep thought. Other times, silence refers to the lack of interest of the other person. Mostly, the other person is just too shy to speak and avoids the spotlight by staying silent. Therefore, to understand silence you have to observe the verbal and facial cues of the other person.
Secondly, silence is nothing to be afraid of. It is an important technique used deliberately by investigators and people in authority like interviewers to see how the respondent would react. Because generally silence makes people awkward and it compels people to blurt out information they don’t intend to. So, never be afraid of silence and try filling the void with something you don’t intend to share.
Lastly and most importantly, you don’t have to speak all the time to keep a conversation going. Silence is a part of any normal human conversation. In fact, if you treat it the right way you can build a better bond. Stay confident and give the other person a chance to fill the void.
If anything being comfortable with silence is a cue that you are not in rush. As Mia Wallace writes,
‘That’s when you know you found somebody really special when you can just shut up for a minute, and comfortably share silence.’
7- How to Keep a Conversation Going–Be Positive
Communications are a part of our lives. Every individual has to communicate with a lot of different people throughout the day. It depends on how communication goes that sets the tone for the rest of the day.
For instance, you wake up in the morning and the first thing you hear instead of a greeting is about a task or work that is pending for many months. Your mood would certainly turn off! On the other hand, If your family greets you well, your partner has a loving conversation with you then you’ll be happy throughout the day. As Zig Ziglar said,
‘You never know when one kind act, or one word of encouragement, can change a life forever.’Zig Ziglar
It’s, therefore, more important now than ever to be positive while conversating with someone. When you become a positive communicator you set the right tone for your future relationship. For this, you ought to have an open mind during a conversation. The person sitting in front of you has a different background and ideology of life. You shouldn’t dismiss someone’s opinions and ideas. Everyone has their own opinion which might be different than yours. A better way to handle the difference would be through discussion rather than arguing. Remember you should never be tough on the person but on the issue.
Also, you should never jump to conclusions. A story always has two sides to it. Act sensibly before reaching a conclusion. Say no to gossip and back-biting. Encourage positivity and you’ll see that people would automatically be attracted to you for your positive and comforting presence. Positive communication skills will always come in handy at times when you are struggling to keep the conversation going.
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8- The Power of Practice
To hone any skill in life you need to practice it by being patient. Life is a continuous process of growth and you have to learn new skills to remain relevant to the period you live in. In past, when internet was more than a dream and digital connectivity was merely an idea, people were used to not talking to anyone for day’s even weeks. However, with the dawn of digital technology, you can connect to anyone, anywhere in the world.
With new innovations comes new technology that requires special skills. Skills can only be built with practice though. Whether we talk about effective communication skills required to keep a conversation going online. Or, skills that would make you an effective communicator in person there is only one thing that would make you good at it i.e. Practice. Like any other skill becoming a skilled conversationalist requires practice. You have to stop being afraid of practice. Rather you should step out of your comfort zone, push your boundaries and get out there. It is only when you start practicing these skills would you be able to flex your expressive muscle.
Rounding it up with Harvard Business Publishing’s blog to stress the importance of practice. According to Jennifer Long, acknowledging the challenge is the first step to accomplishing it later. Committing time to a new skill is as important too. After all, only practice can make a person perfect at anything in life.
A conversation always involves two or more people. Therefore, making efforts to keep a conversation going is not your responsibility alone. You can try but you can’t force anyone to participate in a conversation with all their heart. Every person is different. Therefore you need to observe how the other person is first. Try if you must but quit if you don’t see any willingness. Finally, with practice, anything can be learned and mastered. So, go out there, and start today to be a better communicator, and keep a conversation going.