How often are you speaking to someone new, feeling like the conversation’s going pretty well, and then…
Silence hits. You don’t know what to say. They don’t know what to say. This is so awkward. What do you do?
Luckily, there’s one simple rule that can keep every conversation flowing naturally, no matter who you’re speaking to.
Whatever you say, make sure 30% of it is new information.
No conversation will last long with the same information being repeated over and over – it gets boring, and there’s no new stimulation.
When you don’t add new information, the conversation becomes like an inverted pyramid. The more you talk, the less information is exchanged. By using the 30% rule, both you and your friend will be learning new things all the time, keeping the conversation fresh and interesting.
Friend: “The food at that restaurant was amazing!”
What you shouldn’t say: “Yeah, it was good.”
What you should say: “It was – I especially liked the way they seasoned their fries. It reminded me of another place I visited last week… (continue by adding info on the other restaurant).
Friend: “That test was WAY too difficult, I’m sure I failed.”
What you shouldn’t say: “True, it was pretty hard.”
What you should say: “You’re right, which question did you find the hardest? The essay on language wasn’t too bad, I wrote about… (talk about how you answered the question).
Why only 30% new information?
If you add too much new information, the conversation can easily become one-sided. The person you’re speaking to might feel like you’re not listening to them, you’re simply reciting lots of things you know – and that’s a more of a lecture than a conversation!
The two things you need for the 30% rule to work.
Both people need to be interested in continuing the conversation.
If the person you’re speaking to has somewhere to be, is getting tired, or just doesn’t feel like talking, this rule probably won’t work. That’s okay – just carry on the conversation at another time, when you both feel like chatting.
The current topic can’t be expanded on.
Not every topic offers lots of opportunity for you to add new information. If someone says something like,”That banana was tasty,” you might feel there’s not much to add. In this case, simply acknowledge what the other person said and then bring up a new topic, one that has more room for discussion.