Would you be surprised if you learned that not many adults know how to have a conversation? It’s very easy to speak to other people but speaking and holding a meaningful conversation is different. A lot of conversations result in wasted time for both parties and nothing productive comes from them. Whether you are trying to speak to a new friend or catch up with an old one, the dreaded fear of awkward silence is always there.
Holding meaningful and deep conversations are very important, they can build friendships, romances, and networks for business. Everyone wants to be confident and keep the conversation flowing but it’s not as simple as that for most. For some people, holding a conversation comes naturally and can say the right things effortlessly. For others, it can be nerve-racking and scary to keep a conversation in front of new people or groups of people. The more people use social media to communicate, the less face to face communication is being used.
We spend most of our daily lives talking to people. Everyone can make small talk, but where will that take you? If you are looking to make deep connections with people or hold a meaningful conversation and keep it going, then follow these simple tips on how to have a conversation.
Open with pleasantries
Also start your conversations with “Hello”, “Good morning”, “How are you?”. This is a polite way to start off a conversation. If you just jump straight into the conversation you may come off as rude. This is a very simple and basic step, but it gets forgotten about often.
Listen to the other person
One of the most important steps in having a conversation is the ability to listen to others. Often when people speak, they only hear themselves or what they want to hear. Being able to listen to what others are saying is hard but vital when having a meaningful conversation. If you are the one doing the talking, then you are not listening. You are in control and you will be the center of attention.
If you want to keep the conversation going and involve the other person then let them speak. When you listen, you understand and build a connection with the other person. This helps to keep the conversation moving in the right direction. Listening to the other person is also polite and shows a huge amount of respect. If you do not listen and just talk non-stop you will be conceived as rude and the conversation will not progress.
A very good way to show that you are engaged and that you care about the conversation is to ask questions. This shows natural curiosity and interest in what the other person is saying. Try to ask questions based on the information the other person has already told you. This shows that you have been listening to them and care about what they have to say. This will make it much easier to build a strong connection with the person.
Another useful tip is to ask open-ended questions. Ask a question that you know will lead to further conversation. For example, if you ask a person “How was the show last night?” they could simply answer “Good” or “Ok”. These types of questions will not lead anywhere. Try mixing up your question and instead ask “What was the best part of the show last night and why?”. This question is very similar to before but worded differently for a better response. The person you are asking the question to will have to stop and actually think about the response which will give you a more interesting conversation.
Don’t interrupt or get too excited
If your too busy thinking about what you are going to say next or you’re just waiting for the person to stop talking so you can speak, this will come across as rude. If you are too eager to speak, this shows you are not listening to the other person or care about what they are saying. Always listen to the other person, they will really appreciate it and in return will take the time to listen to what you have to say in reply.
The other person will not be speaking for too long and if what you need to say is interesting or important it will still be important after waiting a few minutes. The best way to keep a conversation going is to show respect for the other person. If they don’t think you are interested, then they will not want to waste their time speaking to you.
Try to relate
Try to genuinely relate to what the other person is speaking about. Don’t fake interest in something that you don’t really care about as the other person will spot this instantly. This is a big mistake people make, especially when trying to make new friends. If some is a wrestling fan but you don’t like or know anything about wrestling, don’t try to force the conversation. It will turn awkward very quickly.
Another good way to get people to relate to you is to let your barriers down. Try to take the conversation to a deeper level. Think of the people in your life that you can talk to about anything. What makes you feel so comfortable with that person and how do you become comfortable with a new person in that way? Making eye contact with people will make them feel like they are receiving your full attention. Notice their facial expressions and body language. If you are telling a sad story and their body and facial expressions match, then you will be able to know if they are listening to you. Same goes for you, use your body language and facial expressions to show people you are listening to them.
Don’t waste time
Don’t waste time with small talk, if you don’t have anything of value to say then maybe it is not worth starting up a conversation. The same goes for if you do not have the right amount of time to hold a conversation. If you are the person you are speaking too are late for work, then this is not the right time to try to engage in a deep conversation. A good and meaningful conversation should be slow and relaxed, not rushed.
Let people talk about themselves
It is polite to let the other person talk about themselves before you talk. If you are interested in what the person is saying then you can reply and talk about yourself, just don’t go over the top. No-one wants to sit and listen to you talk about yourself for hours on end. The other person might find what you say interesting, if so then the conversation can move forward. Everyone secretly likes to talk about themselves and their accomplishments in life. This is fine, just keep it short, sweet and to the point.
By letting the other person talk about themselves you can pick up key points about them. What do they do or fun? What are they passionate about? Remembering key facts about the person you are conversing within very important. You can ask them for an update next time you see them. If they have a child, ask how the child is by name. If they love to travel, ask them if they have been away lately. This will make the person feel happy and that you actually listened and remember what they spoke to you about. This will lead to more meaningful conversations.
Don’t talk too much about yourself
At some point, everyone has been in a situation where you are stuck in a conversation with someone who will not stop talking about themselves or something you are not interested in. It’s draining and no-one wants to be on the receiving end of a conversation like this. Sometimes people can talk about themselves without even realizing or focus on a topic you are not interested in and not know.
Try to watch what you are saying and limit the amount you talk about yourself. Decide what you think the other person will be interested in hearing about. If they are a tennis fan, don’t spend ages talking about football unless you know for sure they are interested. Try not to brag about yourself and your accomplishments, not everyone will be as successful in life as you. Think about what you have to say and if it adds value to the conversation and enriches the other person life. If you are just speaking to try, make yourself look good and boost your own confidence then this will not lead to an interesting conversation.
Next time you want to have a conversation with somebody, keep these tips in mind. It can be intimidating to talk to new people or people you don’t have a connection yet with, but practice makes perfect. The main things to remember are to listen, answer and ask a question back. This method will keep the conversation flowing easily. Do not overwhelm yourself by testing out all these techniques at once or you will end up talking gibberish. Take it slowly and incorporate these into your everyday conversations and see how it goes.