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Have you ever met someone with the gift of gab? They know how to say all the right things and have a charisma about them, as if they’ve never met a stranger. Furthermore, they appear to know how to keep a conversation going and avoid awkward silences.
Not everyone is built that way naturally, but we can all learn ways to enhance our communication skills. We all desire to leave a remarkable impression no matter the setting (clients, potential friends or social events).
In this article, we will discuss why it is important to know how to keep a conversation going. We’ll also provide practical steps to keep a conversation going with someone you just met.
Why is It Important to Know How to Keep a Conversation Going?
Suppose you were in sales and trying to get a client to purchase products from you. In that case, you may see awkward silences as a strategic opportunity to get what you want. But if you are looking to engage with someone in order to build a relationship, whether personal or professional, you should seek to make the most out of your interactions. Uncomfortable pauses in a conversation or presentation are something you need to avoid.
Pauses in personal interaction often are associated with feelings of anxiety and pressure to say the right things. We feel this way because we don't want to “mess things up” by being unsure of how to keep a conversation going.
If we feel things are awkward, the person we seek to connect with may feel strange about the conversation too.
Let's say you were a supervisor addressing a hygiene issue with an employee, or perhaps you're consoling a friend who has suffered a loss. Avoiding the elephant in the room or having irregular periods of silence in the conversation will create more tension and discomfort.
Suppose we don't keep the conversation going. In that case, it can have an adverse impact on the relationships we are trying to build or the goal we sought to accomplish out of the conversation in the first place.
We all seek to be looked at as someone easy to talk to, so we often blame ourselves if the conversation isn't going as smoothly as planned.
In addition, we worry we aren't interesting enough, or we're simply bad at communicating with new people. However, that isn’t always the case. Just because there is a lull in conversation doesn’t make it your fault. The other party may be feeling the same anxieties and insecurities as you.
Mastering the art of free and easy communication will give you the self-confidence to connect with anybody. It will also show others what a thoughtful, insightful, personable and friendly person you are.
I have a friend who lives by the mantra, “To know me is to love me!” Many of us can say the same. Therefore, strengthening your skills to communicate is bedrock to much success in friendships, personal relationships and professional success.
[See Thought Provoking Deep Questions to Spark Conversation!]
11 Steps to Keep a Conversation Going with Someone You Just Met
Now that we’ve touched upon why it’s important to keep the conversation going in most cases, here is how you go about it!
1. Find a common thread between you and the person you’re having a conversation with.
Base your conversation on three commonalities between you and the person you're communicating with.
2. Ask open-ended questions.
Open-ended questions are questions that have to be answered with more than a simple yes or no. It is a way to get someone's genuine opinion about a thing and allows you the opportunity to get to know them and further guide the conversation.
For instance: Ask, “Who is your favorite automaker?” Rather than asking, “Do you like your car?”
To give you some ideas, check out this great list of questions to ask a new friend.
3. Plan your questions ahead of time.
When you know you are meeting somebody new, you can preplan your questions to break the ice. Being initiative-taking is a great way to keep the conversation going and avoid awkward lulls.
4. Give detailed answers when you are asked questions.
You desire to keep the conversation engaging, right? Well, you need to be willing to give more than one-word answers yourself. You may even choose to ask a question at the end of your answers to keep the dialog flowing. In addition, it shows the other person that you value their input and perspective.
5. Ask follow-up questions.
When conversing with someone, asking them to engage further in conversation is a simple way to “keep the conversation going.”
When things go quiet, ask them a question to go deeper into consideration about something previously discussed. For instance, if you know that person prefers streaming services over basic cable, ask them to explain the benefits of the services they chose.
6. Express who you really are.
Many of us run into “conversation complications” trying to be someone we are not. For instance, using words that aren't usually in our vocabulary or being overly humorous when we don't speak that way regularly.
Just be yourself. We all open up more to people who appear to be genuine.
We can’t control how someone feels about us, nor should we try to. However, let us focus on what we can control and how we act and react to others.
7. Be a good listener.
Asking questions then appearing disinterested when the other person is communicating with you is sure to usher in silence.
Show interest and be engaging during the conversation. Ask questions based on things you hear from the other person.
8. Don't make the conversation feel like an interrogation.
Personally, I know many great people, but there are some I avoid and keep things short with because of this point here. I avoid them because speaking with them is awkward, like being accused of a crime. They are trying to get a confession and conviction.
These people don’t offer up any information about themselves but ask personal questions that often cross personal boundaries. Even with people, they have just met. So, a person chooses to be silent because they are uncomfortable engaging in conversation any longer. For better relationships, you should try to avoid this at all costs.
9. Don't overspeak.
Don’t talk someone’s head off! Remember that “sharing” in conversation is about giving and taking. Show them that they are interesting by asking questions that get them talking. And also, try to avoid going overly personal about your private issues.
Remember, they are not your therapist. They are potential friends or business associates. They may be a great person to share personal circumstances with later as you get to know them and their character. However, right now, you've just met and wouldn't want to share such valuable and personal feelings with a person you really don't know very well.
Also, oversharing can be attributed to any nervousness and anxiety you may be feeling. Try and relax and gather your thoughts before engaging in a meaningful conversation.
10. Comment on the silence.
The silence may be awkward for the two of you in some cases. So, mentioning how weird it feels to each other can be the thing that frees you both up to just let loose and really begin to talk.
Furthermore, bringing up the silence or a lull in conversation is a great transition into the next phase of dialogue, or a convenient ending to it.
Part of haven’t great conversation is knowing when to cut things off. Then, next time you see one another, you can pick up right where you left off.
11. Don't take things too seriously.
Just go out there and have fun. If you make a new friend, great! If not, that is ok too. As long as you have been true to who you are and just sought to enjoy yourself, that’s what matters.
If things don't turn into some special long-term relationship, don't be hard on yourself. It doesn’t take anything away from who you are as a person. Maybe you just didn’t have much in common.
Final Thoughts on Steps to Keep a Conversation Going with Someone You Just Met
“A person that has friends must show themselves friendly” Proverbs 18:24. It is helpful when building friendships and work relationships to put ourselves in the other person's shoes. After all, you can't go wrong exhibiting the same respect and attention to others that you desire to receive yourself.
Sometimes, this will involve us getting out of our comfort zones and triumphing over our insecurities… which can be done with the right communication and mental tools. And don’t forget the steps we talked about here when gearing up for the challenge!
If the relationship turns into something long-lasting and meaningful, great! If not, at least your conversation wasn’t awkward, and you exposed one more person in the world to the great person you are. Aim high and be confident… and the conversations will start to flow. It may just take a bit of time.