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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 June 23, 2019

20 Things People Regret the Most Before They Die

20 Things People Regret the Most Before They Die

Close your eyes and imagine that you’re at your own funeral—a bit morbid I know, but there’s a reason for it. Now think about what you’d like people to say about you. What kind of a life do you want to lead? People die with all kinds of regrets. Don’t be one of them.

1. I wish I’d cared less about what other people think.

It’s only when you realise how little other people are really thinking of you (in a negative sense) that you realise how much time you spent caring and wasting energy worrying about this.

2. I wish I had accomplished more.

You don’t have to have won an Oscar, built up a business or run a marathon, but having small personal accomplishments is important.

3. I wish I had told __ how I truly felt.

Even if the “one” doesn’t exist, telling someone how you truly feel will always save you from that gut wrenching”but what if…” feeling that could linger for life if you stay quiet.

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4. I wish I had stood up for myself more.

Sometimes, it’s too easy to think that if you go all out to please everyone you’ll be liked more or your partner won’t run off with anyone else. I think age probably teaches us to be nice but not at the expense of our own happiness.

5. I wish I had followed my passion in life.

It’s so easy to be seduced by a stable salary, a solid routine and a comfortable life, but at what expense?

6. I wish our last conversation hadn’t been an argument.

Life is short, and you never really know when the last time you speak to someone you love will be. It’s these moments that really stay clear in peoples’ minds.

7. I wish I had let my children grow up to be who they wanted to be.

The realisation that love, compassion and empathy are so much more important than clashes in values or belief systems can hit home hard.

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8. I wish I had lived more in the moment.

Watching children grow up makes you realise how short-lived and precious time really is, and as we age, many of us live less and less in the present.

9. I wish I had worked less.

There’s always a desire to have loosened up a bit more with this one and the realisation that financial success or career accomplishment doesn’t necessarily equal a fulfilled life.

10. I wish I had traveled more.

It can be done at any age, with kids or not but many talk themselves out of it for all kinds of reasons such as lack of money, mortgage, children, etc. When there’s a regret, you know it could have been possible at some stage.

11. I wish I had trusted my gut rather than listening to everyone else.

Making your own decisions and feeling confident in the decisions you make gives us fulfilment and joy from life. Going against your gut only breeds resentment and bitterness.

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12. I wish I’d taken better care of myself.

Premature health problems or ageing always makes you wonder if you’d eaten healthier, exercised more and been less stressed, would you be where you are today?

13. I wish I’d taken more risks.

Everyone has their own idea of what’s risky, but you know when you’re living too much in your comfort zone. In hindsight, some people feel they missed out on a lot of adventure life has to offer.

14. I wish I’d had more time.

Many people say time speeds up as we age. The six weeks of summer holidays we had as kids certainly seemed to last a lifetime. If time speeds up, then it’s even more important to make the most of every moment.

15. I wish I hadn’t worried so much.

If you’ve ever kept a diary and looked back, you’ll probably wonder why you ever got so worked up over X.

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16. I wish I’d appreciated ___ more.

The consequences of taking people for granted are always hard to deal with.

17. I wish I’d spent more time with my family.

Some people get caught up with work, move to other parts of the world, grow old with grudges against family members only to realise their priorities were in the wrong place.

18. I wish I hadn’t taken myself so seriously.

Life is just more fun when you can laugh at yourself.

19. I wish I’d done more for other people.

Doing things for others just makes life more meaningful.

20. I wish I could have felt happier.

The realisation that happiness is a state of mind that you can control sometimes doesn’t occur to people until it’s too late.

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