General Question

omgwhat's avatar

How do you keep a conversation going?

Asked by omgwhat (83 points ) April 23rd, 2010

I have a problem with talking to people. whether its someone i just met of someone I’ve known my whole life, I just can’t seem to keep a conversation going. I usually have two backup questions to use incase the conversation starts to slow down a bit, but after that I’m lost. I just don’t know what it is about me.

do other people have the same problem too?
what do you try to do?

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32 Answers

DarkScribe's avatar

Only talk about things that really interest you.

OliverYoung's avatar

Usually talking about something that you have in common is a good way to go. That way you can bond, so to say. Otherwise, ask in to the person, how they are, how is thier etc. etc. going, what is up with bla. bla. bla. yea, I hope you get the drill.
Good luck!

thriftymaid's avatar

I think you can try too hard. Pauses in conversation are normal, but it makes some people nervous. The more you talk to someone, the less this will happen, or the more comfortable you will be with it.

martyjacobs's avatar

Find out what a person is intersted in and learn a little about the topic. The person you’re speaking to will be much more likely to talk to you for a longer period of time if you’re discussing an issue that they have some interest in.

You can also do the opposite. If you have an interesting hobby, tell people about it. The more stuff you do, the more inetersting you will be to talk to, so if you don’t have a hobby get one quick :D

I hope this advice helps.

JeffVader's avatar

No, I cant say I’ve ever had trouble holding a conversation….. perhaps you’re just not very interested in other people?

brinkofit's avatar

If you just meet someone ask them a lot of superficial questions first. For example, favorite movie, acotor/actress, sports team, food, drink, hobby, tv show. The conversation will last longer if they ask you questions about you too. Then when you get a grasp of who they are as a person you can talk about more serious things and read up on things they like but you don;t have a clue what it is

gemiwing's avatar

I have shortcuts I use too. here’s hoping I don’t meet any jellies in real life I was horrible at talking to other people for a long time. I don’t know how bad you are so if these are simplistic, I apologize. Just sharing what’s worked for me.

I ask open-ended questions based on the topic. I also ask for clarification or meanings of words I don’t know.

Example:
Them- “Work was so horrible today”.
Me- “Oh yeah? Why’s that?”
Them- “The Flux Capacitor blew and took out decks 17–45”.
Me- (in my head I pick out any noun/verb they spoke and ask a question about it) “17–45? Is that a large area?”

Another option is to try and interject a thought of your own if you know the subject.

Example:
Them- “I love bacon flavored lipstick”.
Me- “Is that the one from Archie McPhee?” (question, plus input=good convo)

The hardest part for me to learn was how to interject a new topic. My brain tends to think in webs so if someone is talking about banjos- I jump into string theory. Getting the hang of when to bring up what so you don’t lose everyone else takes practice. If you tend to make big leaps in your logic, try making smaller ones while talking to people who may not be able to follow easily. (or if the topic is on the no-no list for the company present.)

MarcoNJ's avatar

Exactly how @gemiwing described. Asked open ended questions on the subject the other person is talking about. Conversing is a lot easier when you listen to them and let them keep talking by asking questions.
Of course, if you’re genuinely interested in the topic at hand – things will flow more easily. Before you know it, you’ll be chatting away.

Could it be your problem is that you’re completely bored by the other person?

mattbrowne's avatar

Take a genuine interest in other people. Try to understand them. Find out about their hobbies for example and ask further questions related to a particular hobby or interest.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

Everything a person says sends my mind on a dozen tangents. Choose one of these, however off topic it is, and use it to lead into the next phase of the conversation.

Zen_Again's avatar

Ask questions.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I’ve had the same problem since childhood. Through experience I’ve found that it’s better to let a conversation die than make feeble attempts to continue it. Since I have no way of telling if a listener is bored (Aspergers Syndrome), I intentionally avoid topics that I find particularly interesting, otherwise conversations become lectures. You can probably deduce that I generally avoid social conversation; better a loner than a boring outcast.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Asking open-ended questions of your conversational partner(s) and being truly interested in the responses.

pathfinder's avatar

Try to sinchronize with the one who you talk.It means.if the persone sit and cros his hands than you do the same.Don t forget the eye contact.Try it

wundayatta's avatar

Ask questions until you find a common interest or the other person can’t stand it. Usually people like to talk about themselves, unless they are utterly uninterested in you.

Learn a few jokes and quick comebacks, and employ them. Laughter is a good way to keep a conversation going.

BoBo1946's avatar

listen….listen..and listen and respond!

Supacase's avatar

I have always dreaded small talk with a new acquaintances. There are few social situations I dislike more.

I try to start by talking about people or things we have in common and move on to somewhat mundane things if there are uncomfortable silences and no attempt by the other person to keep the conversation going. Then I feel like an idiot later.

OneMoreMinute's avatar

@wundayatta That ALWAYS works. People will talk themselves silly, if you let me!

I don’t see you ever having a conversation problem, you are a brilliant and articulate writer.

AZByzantium's avatar

In the U.S. the best thing you can do in a conversation is smile. My family is French and we do not smile when we talk about everyday things, but I have learned (growing up here in the States) if you smile when the person your talking to states a fact, opinion, or question, it makes them feel interesting and thus prompts them to continue the conversation. Long story sort, people will talk to you if either A) they feel interesting or B) they find you interesting, or C) they are desperate to not appear alone (aka the awkward wall flower type). For type A) smile, comment on an article of their attire or ask for their opinion on your surroundings, when they respond say you appreciate their imput and that is when you introduce yourself with a firm hand shake and a look in the eye. From there go back to the their response and ask them a tangental question that is more personal in tone….Type B) is tricky, I have a unique name so I lucked out, but remember, people find others interesting who have unique hobbies, sincere opinions, and ability to laugh at themselves. For type C) just look for the other person in the room who appears uncomfortable standing alone and say hi, they will appreciate your company so much they will continue the convo.

haha I hope all this babbling was useful!

wundayatta's avatar

@OneMoreMinute Flattery will get you everywhere!

OneMoreMinute's avatar

@wundayatta
A. What’s the best line of flattery someone used on you?
B. What’s your best line?

wundayatta's avatar

@OneMoreMinute

“I don’t see you ever having a conversation problem, you are a brilliant and articulate writer.”

“uhhhhhhhh”

OneMoreMinute's avatar

@wundayatta “Hello you have reached the voice mailbox for OneMoreMinute who is out of the pool at the moment. Please leave a message after the beep and OMM will get back to you.”

wundayatta's avatar

@OneMoreMinute I’m too shy to leave messages. So just look at the caller ID and call back if you have the guts. That’s not a challenge, btw, that’s just saying that you need a strong stomach to talk to me on the phone.

Kodewrita's avatar

be interested and actually contribute something. Listen more than you speak and when you do speak, say something good. No malicious wisecracks if possible. Try to enjoy the conversation itself and the person you are talking to. It will show and will be felt by the other person too.

DarkScribe's avatar

Every time the other person stops talking you could try poking them.

Aster's avatar

I’ve never had this problem . What ‘s wrong with pregnant pauses, anyhow? I’m into listening a lot the past several years.

Frenchfry's avatar

I like to know people. I have found alot ,not all people, like to talk about themselves. I would ask a lot of question about them.

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

Ask questions about what they’re talking about. It works. Even if it seems like a stupid question.

blueberry_kid's avatar

Comment on what they’re wearing. Say I love your shirt, love your hair. You know, the simple compliments.

Or, you could ask if they play any sports. How do they train, how long have they played. Or, what did they used to play, and why did they quit.,

Or, you could ask about current events. Like, the death of Amy Winehouse. That brings up another topic, what about their music likings?

Or, talk about the people around. It can be a positive or a negative comment. That should almost always spring up a new conversation from the previous one.

noraasnave's avatar

Questions are a good way to keep conversations going.

Other ways? Try to guess how they are feeling about what they are talking about. This is especially useful with most women. Special Note When I say guess, I don’t mean to wildly, blindly guess.

If the topic seems to bother them, just notice out loud, when it is your turn to speak that they appear bothered. This part is pretty simple really. If you have no idea what feeling they are expressing, then they are probably confused as well, so notice how confusing their problem or situation is.

With hetero guys, it is different, if you guess how they are feeling they will look at you, get really confused, and possibly angry. Focus on the mission, and the mission is explaining a problem, and getting a solution. If you don’t have a solution, that is fine, most of the time, they will come up with a solution on their own, simply tell them: “That is a tough one, what are you going to do?”

Side note: The more fluent you are in something, the better the conversations tend to be. If you can relate the topic to music, books, movies, artists, and experiences; then you will have a conversation that you will have to stop due to time constraints.

Practical note: The main ingredient to good conversations is living life to the fullest, in other words, pursuing one’s passions.

ebasboy's avatar

We seem to be having the same feature. This even happens when I am with my family and even friends. But what I just do is to do some kind of comic stuff, but it kills me off. But i think the thing is due to differences in attitude and perspective. You only speak when when you are with certain people whom you get well with.
Sometimes you feel like the people are not worth to discuss with or answer the right way if it is a question. The situation is just the same as of professionals. To be clear, take an example of someone who studied law, if there arises an issue revolving around law there is nothing he can discuss with a progammer, and that is worth keeping conversations short to avoid being ashamed or dissapointed by a friend with lack of knowlegde.

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