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10 Practical Tips To Keep A Conversation Going

10 Practical Tips To Keep A Conversation Going

No matter how shy or social you may be, there comes a point in every conversation with a new acquaintance where you draw blank. The back and forth may stall, or maybe you’ve started in on a subject you don’t know much about. Instead of having a panic attack and trying to think up a quick excuse to walk away, here are ten practical tips to keep a conversation going.

1. Be interested

Make sure you actually want to socialize. Or, if you don’t–for example, if it’s for a work or family function–then at least be a good actor! Be interested in the conversation you’re having, as well as the person you’re having it with. If you don’t seem interested (even if you are), then they won’t want to keep talking to you.

2. Ask questions

You can appear interested simply by asking questions. When someone brings up a topic, ask questions about it. This will not only show your interest and desire to learn more, it will keep the conversation going because your conversation partner will keep talking. If you’re unfamiliar with the topic of discussion, this will give you a chance to learn more, and then you’ll be able to participate in the conversation more.

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3. Be a good listener

You can’t just ask questions to keep a conversation going. You have to listen to the answers, too. You have to take in the information the other person is giving you and remember it, or else you’ll keep talking in a circle by asking the same questions over and over.

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    4. Maintain eye contact

    Maintaining eye contact is another good way to let the other person know you’re interested in the conversation. If you keep looking at other things around you, then you’ll appear distracted and uninterested in the conversation–even if you’re asking questions and keeping a good back and forth going! Looking directly at the person shows them that you’re focused only on them and the conversation at hand, not anything going on around you, and not anything else going on in your own head.

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    5. Have a list of topics

    This doesn’t mean you have index cards with subjects on them, like you might have back in 7th grade, making that first nerve-wracking phone call to your crush. It just means you have topics in your mind that you’d like to discuss. Maybe it’s some current events that you’d like to hear others’ opinions on, or changes you’d like to make in your own life that the other person might have some knowledge about. Having a list of topics doesn’t have to be a physical list, but keeping a mental list will keep you from coming up blank when it’s your turn to change the subject.

    6. Find common ground

    When you find something you both have in common, it’s a good idea to stretch that thread into a longer conversation! You can find common ground during the course of the discussion, or you might be introduced by someone who already knows what you two have in common, and works it into the introduction.

    7. Say what you’re thinking

    This doesn’t mean you need to blurt out, “I hate your accent” or, “those shoes don’t match your pants.” Look at people around you who seem to have no trouble keeping a conversation going. What do you notice about them? They have no trouble talking because they’re uninhibited! They don’t worry if what they’re going to say next makes them sound stupid–they say what they’re thinking! You should do the same. It doesn’t mean you need to mention every silly thing that pops into your head, ranging from items on your To Do list to the weather this week. It just means they’re not over-thinking the conversation. They’re not trying to figure out if this topic is interesting enough to bring up. They simply bring it up and seeing how the conversation goes!

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    8. Use conversation threading

    Conversation threading is when the other person says a statement that has many different parts you can pick up on and continue the discussion from. An example is when someone says, “last week, I traveled to Alaska for my job.” You could pick up on travel in general, and share some of your own stories, or ask questions about Alaska and what it’s like there, or start talking about the person’s job. You could ask where they work, how often they travel, or share if you travel for work or would like to. There are many different ways the conversation could go from that sentence alone, so listen for statements like that. It will help you direct where the conversation goes with your follow-up questions, instead of being led to a monologue you care nothing about.

    9. Practice

    It sounds silly, but it’s true. Practice is important in all things, and conversation is no exception! You can practice keeping a conversation going with a friend, family member, or the clerk at the grocery store. You can even practice all of these skills in online chats (except eye contact, unless you’re using a webcam!).

    10. Know when to end a conversation

    This is the clincher–literally! If your conversation is going well, it might be hard to know when to end it. You don’t want to interrupt the other person, but you don’t want the connection to run its course. It’s easier to end too early and want to talk to the person again, than to bore them by letting the conversation go too long. It’s hard to know how to stop a conversation, but you should always make it positive. Let the person know you want to talk to them again, and make sure you know how to get in touch with each other.

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    Featured photo credit: Carlos Magariños via flickr.com

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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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