How to Keep a Conversation Going

Whether we have the talent of being talkative or not, we all experience this awkward moment in our conversations – the awkward silence. We meet a stranger or we talk with an old friend, and then suddenly the conversation stalls. We do not have an idea where to take it and how to keep it going. We settle into pregnant pause, and deep inside, we feel uncomfortable and embarrassed. This may be normal but they can be a burden for anyone.

It is not only the awkward silence that becomes the problem. With the truth that you have not been able to keep up a great conversation with someone, you also lose the opportunity to know that person better. So can you prevent that from happening again? How do you keep a conversation going?

Ask appropriate questions. Some people are just too shy that you have to urge them into talking. To do so, you ask the right questions. From what that person earlier shared, extract questions from them. Avoid asking closed questions or those questions that leads you down a dead end. Such questions are answerable by a “Yes” or “No”, or worse, a little nod or a simple smile. Just imagination yourself asking a series of “yes” and “no” questions, that would surely be more awkward. Seems you are interrogating and not conversing! Instead, ask open questions or those that can be answered by an explanation. These questions begin with what, where, when, who, why, and how, and the good thing is that they do not solicit a single syllable answer or a slight gesture. For example, instead of asking “Did you enjoy the movie?”, say “What do you feel about the movie?” This way, your partner would have to explain rather than nod.

Listen and look for clues. A conversation comes easy if you are enjoying it. But if you are not “into” it, the conversation can become a painful struggle for you. To avoid this, listen closely to your partner, look for clues, urge him or her to talk, and ask questions until you finally hit a common interest to both of you. When you are at it, elaborate the subject and expand the conservation. With it, both of you will finally enjoy the talk.

Talk about the other person. It is very interesting to talk about people, and so a great way to keep up a good conversation is to talk about people, particularly your acquaintance (not you!). Pay attention to your partner’s interest, values, social upbringing, and way of life. However, know your limits so you will not appear gossiping or being nosy.

Talk a lot yourself. If your partner does not really participate in the conversation, then it is time you talk a lot. Talk about yourself, about work, about currents events, or any topic that you can think of. You may appear rude or nuisance to dominate a talk. Yet, doing this may eventually catch that person’s attention on something you said and he or she in return will finally have to talk.

Blurt. Sometimes, a conversation fails not because we do not have anything to say, but we become afraid that the person will not enjoy what we have to say. We fear that they will not be interested in a particular topic or opinion we have in mind. Oftentimes, this fear has no reality. So next time, try blurting or say whatever you are thinking right at the very moment, instead of censoring yourself. Do it and you will discover that people are not that closed-minded or harsh and that they can also enjoy at anything you say.

Do not pretend. Being pretentious only leads to failure; the conversation only becomes a pain for both of you and the discussion would end up shallow and frustrating. If you become uninterested or unfamiliar about the subject, politely change the topic.

Do not be boring. Be lively and show the humor of life. Talk with energy and integrate fresh topics to the conversation. News and music trends are some of the enjoyable topics so it is best to start with them. Once you feel both of you are pleased with a subject, do not end it so soon.

Practice. This is a great point to remember. Go out of your own world, socialize, attend parties, and meet new people. Step out of your comfort zones and you will not only improve your conversational skill but also your personality as a whole.

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