• Andy Paulucio

Tips to keep conversations flowing

So you are interested in somebody you have just met, and perhaps you are concerned that you might run out of things to say, which would lead to moments of awkward silence. Or maybe you do not have much experience meeting new people, and you don’t feel confident making conversation. Regardless of whatever is getting in the way of preventing you from holding a conversation with someone, you shall be able to keep conversations flowing by the time you finish reading this short guide.

Without further ado, let’s get to it.

1. Ask open-ended questions. Open-ended questions are the type of questions the respondent is required to answer back with an elaborated response and not with one-worded responses (close-ended). To make it easier to come up with these types of questions, you could use specific topics to get things flowing, such as discussing common interests, inquiring about their childhood and family, or sharing stories.

Let’s take a look at some examples of open-ended questions.

  • What was it like growing up in that city?

  • Since you have traveled so much, what was one of your most memorable experiences abroad?

  • What are three books you think everyone should read? And what would everyone take away from those books?

2. Ask back. This is a simple technique; all you have to do is return the question to the person who asked it using a “And you?” or “How about you?”. Or any other variation that would place the focus back on the person you are having a conversation with. You can enhance this technique by adding an open-ended question after the initial question.

Let’s look at some examples of how you can ask back.

  • If they ask you about your week

I had a very productive week, thanks. How about yours? What was the most exciting thing that happened to you this week?

  • If they ask you about your music preferences

I love classical music. What about you? What kind of music do you like?

  • If they ask you about your thoughts on a topic

I was not very pleased with the outcome. I think they could have handled things differently. What about you? What do you think?

3. Extend your responses. When you are being asked a question, whether open-ended or close-ended, you could try expanding your answer by adding more words (and staying coherent). You would be opening the space for more incoming questions by doing so. The key is to keep your response not too long but just about right to keep the flow.

Let’s look at some examples of extended responses.

  • If they ask you if you like dogs

I love dogs. I have been thinking about getting one, but I am still undecided.

  • If they ask you if you are into water sports

I’m not, but I would not oppose giving it a try sometime.

  • If they ask you if you have been to a specific place

I have not. But I have heard many good things about that place. It would be nice to go there someday.

Bonus tip: If you combine all three tips, you will get wonderful results. But keep in mind that you must be genuinely interested in getting to know the person. If you are faking captivation, the conversation will be shallow. I hope this helps!