Never Run Out of Things to Say: How to Keep a Conversation Going

The easy way to start a conversation

Be honest. Be respectful. Ask questions. You might not think these simple rules for starting a conversation will make much of a difference, but trust us on this one — these three tips go a long way toward making new acquaintances feel more comfortable in your presence, and you can’t go wrong with that. And if you follow all three tips at once, your odds of making new friends just went up substantially!

1. Body language makes you more engaging

It might sound cliché, but you can actually improve your ability to keep a conversation going by paying attention to body language. To start, avoid distractions and make sure that both you and your conversation partner are facing each other. Eye contact is important in showing interest, so it’s important that you don’t look down at notes or texts in between talking.

2. Have fun. Talk about whatever interests you.

We all know that small talk isn’t so small after all — it’s important, whether you realize it or not. That said, it doesn’t mean you should stress out every time you see someone new (unless they happen to be your boss). Just go into every social situation with an open mind. Learn more about who that person is and have fun talking about what interests you both. And if nothing at all interests you?

3. Be interested

People love talking about themselves. When you genuinely show interest in what someone is saying, you create an atmosphere of trust and respect that invites your conversation partner to open up further. When someone feels like they have your undivided attention, they’ll gladly spend more time conversing with you — and bringing up personal topics helps build camaraderie. So if you find yourself at a loss for words when meeting new people, don’t fret: just let them do most of the talking!

4. Use open-ended questions

Instead of asking yes-or-no questions that can be answered with one word, use open-ended questions (those that require more than one sentence) to keep a conversation going. Open-ended questions are great for getting people talking — and their answers will give you plenty of new information about them and what they care about. Before you jump into a conversation, stop and consider what you’re going to say. This will help keep you from entering sticky territory or rambling.

5. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not

If you want someone to keep listening, let your personality shine through. Don’t pretend you’re someone else (and don’t fake laughter). No one likes someone who puts on airs. No matter how fascinating you think your job or hobby is, keep it real and don’t go overboard trying to impress people with it. Let your actions speak for themselves so that others can see what you’re truly like. This can help them connect with you on a more personal level. Honesty is always more interesting than pretending to be something that you’re not.

6. Avoid interruptions

When you find yourself in an engaging conversation, you’ll want to make sure that you take time and space to hear your counterpart out. Resist any urge to interrupt them — just because they have paused doesn’t mean they’re done talking! It may be best to scribble down their last few points so that you can refer back to them when it comes time for your turn again. Conversations are built on giving and take. The same holds true for group conversations — participating ensures that you have time and opportunity to contribute as well as receive input from others.

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