How To Keep a Conversation Going

We have all been in a situation where we were stuck at an interview, date, church event, or social gathering where the conversation drops off. Awkward silence ensues and everyone in the group starts trying to figure out ways to step away from the awkward silence. It is really a shame when this happens because it is avoidable. To avoid this situation we need to learn the skills to make conversation a natural occurrence in our lives. Before we get to learning these life skills we need to understand that conversation skills need to be practiced daily.

Practice Conversation Skills Daily
Conversation is best served warm, meaning that your skills need be used often to keep them at their best. The time to practice those skills are when you are around people you know or at short bursts thorough out the day. Many people do not realize the number of times during the day that these skills can be tried out. Some of my favorite places are at a cash registers, gas station, library, work, waiting in line, or while ordering a meal. The advantages of practicing your skills in these environments is that you do not have to talk long. Many times you only have 3 minutes or less that you will have to be committed to any given conversation.  Remember these conversations are practice so you really cannot mess up. In time these practice conversations will enrich your life in more ways than you can imagine right now.

Conversation Toolkit
There are 3 rules to keep in mind while working to keep a conversation going.
1. Take responsibility for the conversation
2. Ask open-ended questions.
3. Listen with genuine interest.

Take responsibility for the conversation
Chances are if you ended up on this site trying to learn know how to keep a conversation going, you instinctively know this is your responsibility, but this is something you need to tell yourself when you find that a conversation is dwindling or completely missing. By far this is the most important rule to keep in mind because it is the bases for the next two skills to come. You must take ownership of that conversation.

Ask open-ended questions
Your job is not to be the main talker in the conversation. Many conversation I find myself in I personally do a small fraction of the actual talking. As the owner of the conversation it is your job to lead or facilitate the conversation with open-ended question. Questions that lend them selves to one word answers are tough to use while trying to keep or get a conversation going. Please keep in my that you don’t want the other person to feel like they are being grilled. If you find yourself asking your third question in a row it probably means your questions are too narrow and that you need to broaden the type of question.

A quick example of this is, instead of asking if the person lives in Atlanta, you might want to ask them what part of town they are from. This will give them room to naturally expand on the more broad question. Once they give the answer then follow up by asking if they have lived there all their life. Nine times out of ten just that question will open up dozens of other conversation items which will flow naturally out of the newly started conversation.

Listen with genuine interest.
Now that you have taken responsibility for the conversation and have a small conversation going, you must listen. Even if the person starts monologuing don’t zone out. It is no fun to find yourself in a situation where they throw out a quick question and for you to have no clue what they are talking about. Part of listening is maintaining consistent eye contact. This for many people can feel odd or even extremely uncomfortable at first, but the more you practice it the easier it becomes.

The easiest time to practice what you’ve just learned is when you are not under pressure. Try them out with family, friends, and while you bump into people throughout the day. Then when you find yourself in a place where a conversation is needed you will have no problem stepping up to the plate to lead a conversation.

No one on this planet was born with the skills in place of knowing how to keep a conversation going. These skills must be learned in even the most extroverted person. The extrovert does have an advantage in that their personality gives them more opportunities to hone their conversation skills, and they tend to learn them at a much younger age. For others the habit of conversing is just that, a habit. Habits do not come naturally and they require some trained and require work on our part. The good news is that even introverted people can quickly develop the skills needed to produce healthy and enjoyable conversation. More so, once a genuine connection is made a conversation will flow naturally and many friendships will form.

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