How to keep a conversation going when you meet new people? 10 tips
When words fail you and you hit that awkward silent moment, where do you go from there? It’s OK when you’re with a friend that you know well, then it’s called a comfortable silence, but, when you’re talking to someone new, it just gets more and more awkward and the words become harder and harder to find, until the only words that you can find are ‘lovely to meet me you, sorry, but I have to be somewhere”!
There are some tricks that you can use, though, to end that silence or even avoid it in the first place. Next time you are struggling to find something to say, try these tips on how to keep a conversation going when you meet new people:
1. Listen to what’s being said
The first step, especially if you are talking to someone that you don’t know well, is to pay attention. It’s all too easy to become distracted by what’s going around you and lose the thread of what the person is saying. Fine with a friend, they’re probably used to it, but embarrassing when you meet new people.
2. Loop back to the last point discussed
If you’re stuck for something new to say, try getting the other person to expand on their last comment. If they just said that they like a particular band, ask when they last saw the band, what other bands do they like, what is the band’s last release called. Anything to pass the baton back to them, while you get some time to think!
3. Ask what they their plans for the day are
Another easy trick on how to keep a conversation going when you meet new people is asking about their plans for the day. This simple question is good for opening up all sorts of different topics. It could be a shared like of certain stores, common interests, what you did yesterday or what your plans are for the rest of the day.
4. Feign a cough
If you don’t know how to keep a conversation going – you can fill a gap by pretending to cough. At least then you can talk about the terrible cold you are just getting over! 🙂
5. Connecting topics
Even the most tenuous of links can be used to move the conversation along; it’s what we do in a natural conversation, you just need to do it a little more consciously in conversations with new people. The person might be telling you how much he likes football and you could switch the conversation to food by mentioning that your favourite restaurant is quite near the football stadium. No connection really, but you’re still talking, right?!
6. Think like a chess player
Planning your moves ahead is another simple secret on how to keep a conversation going when you meet new people. A good chess player is always thinking a few moves ahead and a little multi-tasking can go a long way in a difficult conversation with new people. Listen to what the other person is saying, but be planning where you are going to take the conversation next, at the same time.
7. Refer to something nearby
Assuming that you are not talking on the phone, you can always refer to something that’s happening around you to start a new thread of conversation. It could even be that all-time favourite of ‘do you come here often?’ or perhaps ‘the music’s a bit loud in here isn’t it?’ or even referring to someone else’s plate in a restaurant with ‘that looks nice, doesn’t it?’
8. Phrase your sentences as questions
Phrasing your sentences as questions can also help you to keep a conversation going. Try and lead the other person into talking by asking questions, rather than just stating fact. ‘I like ice-cream’ will not take the conversation very far, but ‘I like ice-cream, what’s your favourite dessert?’ leads you into a conversation.
9. Keep eye contact
Another easy physiological trick on how to keep a conversation going when you meet new people is simply keeping eye contact, because when you keep eye contact with a person, it encourages them to talk to you. Eye contact shows an openness and friendliness and it’s actually quite difficult to look someone in the eye and say nothing.
10. Pretend that the silence was deliberate
You can break a brief spell of silence by pretending that you were distracted by something. If it’s someone of the opposite gender that you are talking to, than ‘you have a lovely smile’ would work or, if you are both girls, then a comment along the lines of ‘I love your dress’ or ‘I like the way you’ve done your hair’ will open the discussion again.
They call it the art of conversation for a reason, and one way to perfect that art is practice. Next time you are talking to a friend, think about some of these tips and try them out. If you are really stuck with a complete full stop in the conversation with new people, you could also try making a joke about it like, ‘so you like meditation too’, this will at least get you talking again! Use humor and don’t take yourself too seriously!
How to keep a conversation going when you meet new people? Feel free to share your own tips in the comment section below.