Whether we are a staunch introvert or a flamboyant extrovert, there will always be strange and awkward moments in a conversation when we are at a loss for words.
Panic can arise as we desperately search for the right words, but this usually results in a mental block of appropriate topics to discuss.
So, what exactly causes this? It usually happens when we are unfamiliar with a particular person or group of people. When you're thrown into a conversation before you've found common ground, it can be difficult to keep the interaction flowing smoothly and naturally because we're not entirely sure what to talk about.
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How to Maintain a Conversation Going with Someone You've Never Met Before
It is critical to have a few good techniques under your belt for these specific situations. It will benefit you not only socially, allowing you to lay better foundations for potential friendships, but also professionally, where networking is essential.
Don't make ‘interestingness' your goal
Many people believe that in order for people to want to build a relationship with them, they must first win them over with interesting or humorous conversation. In reality, this is not the case. It is not necessary for the interaction to be insightful for it to be meaningful. Don't get caught up in the idea that what you're saying isn't good enough – just say it anyway.
People generally do not remember what was said in any given conversation, only that it occurred. Don't worry about impressing them; just be yourself.
Allow them to talk about themselves by asking probing questions
People in general enjoy talking about themselves. Not because they're conceited, but because it's a safe topic that they obviously know a lot about. As a result, if you're at a loss for words, simply ask good questions.
Inquiring questions demonstrates a level of personal interest and makes the other person feel cared for. You accomplish this by paying attention and observing the person in order to find clues. For example, if they appear particularly tired, inquire as to what they did the day before. If they have a specific item of clothing, mention that you've been looking for something similar and ask where they got it or where you can get one.
The key is to ask open-ended questions that elicit responses rather than questions that elicit yes or no answers. This allows the person to elaborate further, keeps the conversation going, and provides you with more information about their personality.
Have a Food-Related Discussion
The goal is to find a universal topic. Not everyone is up to date on the latest technological advances or fashions, but everyone has a passion for, or at least an opinion about, food.
If you're eating with others, simply commenting on the food is an easy way to start a conversation. Alternatively, you could broaden your discussion by mentioning different cuisines or foods you've tried. If you're having a meal later, asking or recommending what you should eat is always a good conversation starter.
It all comes down to finding common ground, and food is a perfectly simple and universal topic to bring up.
Simply repeat what they have said
Conversations can become stale if you can't relate to what they're talking about. If you don't know much about the subject, it can be difficult to express your thoughts, and awkward silences can occur.
In this case, reiterating what the other person has said is a good strategy. This not only demonstrates that you are interested in and listening to what they are saying, but it also allows them to point out inconsistencies or be eager to tell you more because of your interest. If someone is describing their complicated job to you or a profession you are unfamiliar with, they may be well aware of your ignorance. You establish interest and rapport by repeating what they say or asking for clarification.
Tell Us a Little About Yourself
Some people, particularly introverts, may find it difficult to share personal information. However, sharing small details, no matter how insignificant, will not only demonstrate to the other person that you want them to get to know you, but it will also serve as an easy conversation starter.
As previously stated, it is not what is said in a conversation that people remember. A person is more likely to remember an awkward silence with you than a seemingly meaningless conversation about what you ate yesterday or what new gadget you purchased.
The goal is to be self-assured when bringing up any topic. If you detect awkwardness, the other person will be grateful for your efforts to keep the conversation going, so don't overthink how you're coming across with your words.
Knowing ‘Everything' Doesn't Make Someone a Good Conversationalist
Keep this in mind at all times. While having a broad range of knowledge can help you converse with different types of people, it is not required.
Know-it-alls have a tendency to dominate conversations, which we all know can be off-putting. You'll be much better off applying what you've learned from the tips above to the conversations you have. Remember that you're looking for flow and connection in a straightforward manner. Don't overthink things.
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