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Clever Tricks To Have A Conversation That Never Ends

Clever Tricks To Have A Conversation That Never Ends

We all understand what it feels like to be tongue-tied. We’ve all had that experience. Perhaps it was a friend who got too excited about The Game of Thrones—a show that’s got so viral but which you’ve never watched a second of. Or it could be a co-worker who kept talking about his recent trip to Berlin, and you just couldn’t think of anything interesting to say because you’ve never even been to Europe before.

You may feel bad about yourself. But the good news is: the solution to this is simple.

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Trick #1: Give short and simple responses. (Don’t underestimate their power!)

The truth is, on any given day, we have so many conversations with so many different people about so many different things, most people don’t even remember what they’ve said![1] What’s more, a lot of the conversations aren’t supposed to be meaningful in the first place. Which is why it’s okay to not know what to say, because, most likely, it doesn’t matter what you say, or if you say anything at all. The other person will probably forget it soon enough.

So, why do we talk so much if our conversations aren’t important? The reason is that we like to feel connected with one another, and chatting with people helps us understand each other. The purpose of having a conversation is, purely and simply, to keep the conversation going. You really don’t have to trouble yourself to come up with interesting or clever responses.

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For example, if your friend keeps bothering you with his favorite TV show, but you have absolutely no idea what to say about it, just say that you like to watch TV too but aren’t following the show he’s talking about (and maybe mention your own favorite show). You’re not trying to write a critique of TV shows, so it doesn’t matter if you have any insightful comments to contribute. Be comfortable chattering about nothing, and be happy that you’re spending time with a friend!

Trick #2: Listen to what the other says, and try to relate it to something else.

Another trick is to associate.[2] Look to the current conversation for inspiration, and talk about something else instead. It can be something that you find interesting or know about, but it doesn’t have to be related to what you’ve been talking about. Use your imagination. Digress. And move on.

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For instance, if your co-worker is sharing his travel experience in Berlin and you don’t know how to respond, try talking about something vaguely related. You can say something like: Berlin does sound amazing! I heard you can’t go to Berlin and not eat currywurst. But, hmm, it’s just sausage to me. By the way, do you know about that cool new hotdog stand right around the corner? …

Trick #3: Ask questions and let the other person talk more.

You can also try letting the other person do the talking. For instance, when someone talks to you about Gothic architecture but you know nothing about it, try replying with an enthusiastic ‘Interesting!’.[3] Ask for further details using open-ended questions,[4] e.g. What do you think about the Physics Building at our university then? It looks pretty old-school to me, but I’m not sure how it compares to the Gothic style of the Cologne Cathedral…

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This not only shows that you respect the other person, but also that you’re enjoying chatting with them. People will usually be happy that you’re interested in what they’re saying, and will want to share more with you. Remember, you goal here is just to keep the conversation going.

Trick #4: Share your little stories with others.

But if you really struggle with all of the above and end up in awkward silence, don’t panic: you can always share a little something about yourself.[5] You don’t have to worry about being judged or anything. As long as you don’t dig too deep or brag about yourself too much, people are usually willing to listen to you and are interested in what you say. Sharing some detail about yourself makes the other person feel that you trust them, and will make the conversation more pleasant for the both of you.

For example, open up about your pet, or the last time you cooked, or anything random. Then perhaps say one more detail about it, e.g. what colour is your pet fish, how much time it took you to chop all the vegetables, etc. Who knows, maybe they can relate to that, and will share with you their stories too!

Reference

More by this author

Wen Shan

Proud Philosophy grad. Based in HK.

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

There are so many lessons I wish I had learned while I was young enough to appreciate and apply them. The thing with wisdom, and often with life lessons in general, is that they’re learned in retrospect, long after we needed them. The good news is that other people can benefit from our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned.

Here’re 10 important life lessons you should learn early on:

1. Money Will Never Solve Your Real Problems

Money is a tool; a commodity that buys you necessities and some nice “wants,” but it is not the panacea to your problems.

There are a great many people who are living on very little, yet have wonderfully full and happy lives… and there are sadly a great many people are living on quite a lot, yet have terribly miserable lives.

Money can buy a nice home, a great car, fabulous shoes, even a bit of security and some creature comforts, but it cannot fix a broken relationship, or cure loneliness, and the “happiness” it brings is only fleeting and not the kind that really and truly matters. Happiness is not for sale. If you’re expecting the “stuff” you can buy to “make it better,” you will never be happy.

2. Pace Yourself

Often when we’re young, just beginning our adult journey we feel as though we have to do everything at once. We need to decide everything, plan out our lives, experience everything, get to the top, find true love, figure out our life’s purpose, and do it all at the same time.

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Slow down—don’t rush into things. Let your life unfold. Wait a bit to see where it takes you, and take time to weigh your options. Enjoy every bite of food, take time to look around you, let the other person finish their side of the conversation. Allow yourself time to think, to mull a bit.

Taking action is critical. Working towards your goals and making plans for the future is commendable and often very useful, but rushing full-speed ahead towards anything is a one-way ticket to burnout and a good way to miss your life as it passes you by.

3. You Can’t Please Everyone

“I don’t know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is trying to please everyone” – Bill Cosby.

You don’t need everyone to agree with you or even like you. It’s human nature to want to belong, to be liked, respected and valued, but not at the expense of your integrity and happiness. Other people cannot give you the validation you seek. That has to come from inside.

Speak up, stick to your guns, assert yourself when you need to, demand respect, stay true to your values.

4. Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset

Health is an invaluable treasure—always appreciate, nurture, and protect it. Good health is often wasted on the young before they have a chance to appreciate it for what it’s worth.

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We tend to take our good health for granted, because it’s just there. We don’t have to worry about it, so we don’t really pay attention to it… until we have to.

Heart disease, bone density, stroke, many cancers—the list of many largely preventable diseases is long, so take care of your health now, or you’ll regret it later on.

5. You Don’t Always Get What You Want

“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

No matter how carefully you plan and how hard you work, sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want them to… and that’s okay.

We have all of these expectations; predetermined visions of what our “ideal” life will look like, but all too often, that’s not the reality of the life we end up with. Sometimes our dreams fail and sometimes we just change our minds mid-course. Sometimes we have to flop to find the right course and sometimes we just have to try a few things before we find the right direction.

6. It’s Not All About You

You are not the epicenter of the universe. It’s very difficult to view the world from a perspective outside of your own, since we are always so focused on what’s happening in our own lives. What do I have to do today? What will this mean for me, for my career, for my life? What do I want?

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It’s normal to be intensely aware of everything that’s going on in your own life, but you need to pay as much attention to what’s happening around you, and how things affect other people in the world as you do to your own life. It helps to keep things in perspective.

7. There’s No Shame in Not Knowing

No one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the answers. There’s no shame in saying “I don’t know.” Pretending to be perfect doesn’t make you perfect. It just makes you neurotic to keep up the pretense of manufactured perfection.

We have this idea that there is some kind of stigma or shame in admitting our limitations or uncertainly, but we can’t possibly know everything. We all make mistakes and mess up occasionally. We learn as we go, that’s life.

Besides—nobody likes a know-it-all. A little vulnerability makes you human and oh so much more relatable.

8. Love Is More Than a Feeling; It’s a Choice

That burst of initial exhilaration, pulse quickening love and passion does not last long. But that doesn’t mean long-lasting love is not possible.

Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that you make every day. We have to choose to let annoyances pass, to forgive, to be kind, to respect, to support, to be faithful.

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Relationships take work. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly hard. It is up to us to choose how we want to act, think and speak in a relationship.

9. Perspective Is a Beautiful Thing

Typically, when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, so important, so do or die, but in the grand picture, this single hiccup often means next to nothing.

The fight we’re having, the job we didn’t get, the real or imagined slight, the unexpected need to shift course, the thing we wanted, but didn’t get. Most of it won’t matter 20, 30, 40 years from now. It’s hard to see long term when all you know is short term, but unless it’s life-threatening, let it go, and move on.

10. Don’t Take Anything for Granted

We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone: that includes your health, your family and friends, your job, the money you have or think you will have tomorrow.

When you’re young, it seems that your parents will always be there, but they won’t. You think you have plenty of time to get back in touch with your old friends or spend time with new ones, but you don’t. You have the money to spend, or you think you’ll have it next month, but you might not.

Nothing in your life is not guaranteed to be there tomorrow, including those you love.

This is a hard life lesson to learn, but it may be the most important of all: Life can change in an instant. Make sure you appreciate what you have, while you still have it.

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Featured photo credit: Ben Eaton via unsplash.com

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