When you are talking to someone for the first time, it can be tricky to keep the conversation flowing smoothly. You’ve only just met, you’re feeling each other out, you don’t have shared history to fall back on, and you don’t even know the other person’s likes and dislikes. But never fear! These common conversational hang-ups can actually work in your favor. You’ve only just met, so get to know the person. You may not have shared history, but you can still share your history, and if you don’t know what the other person likes, find out!
Here are three easy ways to keep the conversation flowing:
1 – Find common ground.
People find it easiest to discuss topics they are passionate about. This goes for everybody. If you absolutely love action movies, then find a way to mention them. If the other person likes them too, there you go – you now have an infinite pool of fallback material to work with! Finding common ground is the basis of connection, so start by doing a little fishing to find out where your interests overlap.
2 – Ask open-ended questions – and lots of them!
One surefire way to keep the conversation flowing is to get the other person talking. To do this, make sure you are asking open-ended questions. Rather than, “Did you like this?”, ask, “What did you think of this?” The first question only calls for a yes-or-no answer, while the second version encourages a person to elaborate. Simple, but a real conversation-saver when things are stalling.
3 – Don’t censor yourself… much!
Everybody is afraid of saying too much when they first meet somebody. But this fear is counter-productive to maintaining a good conversation, so go ahead, say what’s on your mind – that pesky fear of judgment isn’t real! People are not actually that harsh, and genuinely enjoy hearing other people’s honest opinions and uncensored take on things — to a reasonable degree, of course. You’ll find that when you aren’t constantly censoring yourself, the conversation will come much more naturally.
Finally, always remember that it’s not all on you. The other person on the line has a responsibility to uphold their end of the conversation as well.
Feel ready to have a great conversation? You are, and you got this. Time to pick up the phone!