For most people, the biggest challenge after they have broken the ice and exchanged pleasantries or chatting for a few minutes with someone they have just met, is ‘how to keep the conversation going?’ The fact is: sustaining conversation is easy if you know the key factors involved. Let us study some easy ways to keep a conversation going in person and on chat…
1. Focus on the current situation
The best way to keep a conversation going is to focus on the current situation. This is in case of scenarios where you meet people at a party or business seminars…
- Why are you here
- Who else is with you that you already know or want to meet
- What activities took place here
- How did you come to be in this place
- What makes this place interesting
- What can you find out about this place
- How do you feel about this place
- What previous experiences you have had about the place
After breaking the ice, you can keep the conversation going by focusing on the above questions pertaining to the immediate surrounding.
2. Expand the conversation
After talking about the immediate surroundings, extend the conversation to the immediate environment. For example, if you are in a hotel at a party, you could talk about the city or the state (especially if you aren’t from around there!). Similarly, if you are in an adult education class or hobby class, extend the conversation to the school or college. You can ask the person about why he/she chose a particular class. Next, ask what parts of the city you can explore that you already haven’t? You can also talk about the clubs, restaurants in the area, movies playing nearby, and then continue to broaden the conversation to how do you travel to class, where do you live and so on. Once you realize the enormous amount of conversational fuel directly related to your immediate surroundings and environment, you will never be at a loss for topics to talk about.
3. Discuss the big events in a person’s life (hot buttons!)
A conversation is never a problem if you can find out about the big events in the other person’s life. Hot buttons like work, job, wedding, the birth of a child, a hobby, career/career change, goals, trips taken, pets, sporting activities, personal dedication to a favorite cause etc are some hot buttons. It can also be a lifelong pursuit, a passing fancy, or a current fascination. Here are some hot buttons that are amazing topics to keep a conversation going:
- Food and cooking
4. Make sure you find the person’s hot buttons soon!
The best way to keep a conversation going strong online or offline is to find the person’s hot buttons soon enough in the conversations. The more passionate and energetically the person talks about his/her interests, the likelier it would be that he/she would want to continue speaking with you. You might even discover that you have some common passions. The reason why the hot button conversations never fail is that you find out early on where the person puts his/her money, time, and efforts in. This can give you many insights about them.
5. Go with the attitude of helping out
If you are in a situation where you want to network, often what works best to keep the conversation going is an intention to help the other person. You might see someone standing alone or hanging around the food table looking lost. These are the best people to talk to. Go with a smile, introduce yourself, and find out how they are doing. Then introduce the topic about hot buttons above. Be attentive, ask the right questions, and try to be sensitive to their situation. Show them an openness to help and soon you will have them pouring their heart out to you.
6. Understand that not everyone would want to talk about what you love
You might try to start a conversation about your hobbies or passions but not everyone wants to talk about what turns you on. If you get go-ahead signals, continue. But if there are no follow-up questions, the person might not be interested. Continue with few more sentences then change the topic. Make the conversation about the other person. Ensure that you use simple language instead of technical jargon. Avoid trying to make yourself look smart.
7. Balance the exchange of information
A conversation is imbalanced when there is one-sided exchange of information. If one person reveals a lot while the other sits there like a bump on a log; then it can make both parties uncomfortable. Not only will this shorten the conversation on text or in person; it will also create a negative impression about each other. This can be avoided by tossing a question to the other party. By tossing the conversation ball back and forth you can converse for as long as you want simply by sending and receiving information back and forth.
8. Use friendly, lively small talk
Focused, friendly, and lively small talk is an essential ingredient to keep the conversation flowing. You could go something like: ‘I heard you are quite the gardener. Can you give me a few tips?’ or ‘I heard you were in Hawaii. I have never been there. What do you enjoy the most about the place?’You can also reveal a few interesting things about yourself during the small talk so that s/he will know what to ask you. For example, you could say, ‘Oh, you just mentioned sailing. I love sailing too. In fact, I just went on a 3-day sailing trip off the coast of California. It was great.’ You can also ask the following questions to a client or a person you meet at a party:
- What line of work are you in? Have you always been in this line?
- What did you do before joining this company?
- Have you ever wanted to start your own business?
- What new trends have you seen in this business?
9. Avoid being argumentative
It is best to steer clear of debatable topics. Avoid being argumentative. Ask questions about someone’s point of view to understand their perspective. Avoid making statements like ‘that’s stupid’, or ‘how could you think like that?’. Instead, calmly state that ‘Well, in my opinion…’ or ‘I respectfully disagree’. This is especially important to keep a conversation going with a crush.
10. Tips to keep a conversation going on text/WhatsApp/Snapchat
These days, most conversations take place over Whatsapp, Snapchat, Instagram, or Facebook Messenger. Texting apps have their pros and cons, in that; you can never know exactly what is going on in a person’s mind. Some people love texting; others do not. So you need to be a judge of what the other person likes and accordingly decide how to keep the text conversation going. Here are some tips that can help:
- Be creative/unique/different – Use creativity in your texts. But also be genuine. Use humor but make sure it isn’t crass or crude.
- Make the other person feel important – Offer something of value. Keep the conversation focused on the other person.
- Start with a short text to ascertain their reaction. A simple ‘hi’, ‘how are you doing?’ etc are good to break the ice. If they are busy, they will respond with “I am busy’ or ‘shorter texts’. Do not take this personally. Keep a balance in initiating the messages; do not always be the first to text. This is especially true in case of a crush or romantic relationship.
- Keep things light and humorous.
- Ask simple yet relevant questions.
- Use emoticons wisely. Emoticons can have different meanings and contexts. So be sure before using them.