Be socially active!
Be socially active!

Part 5: How to Have an Engaging Conversation

Do you have trouble starting conversations?  Do you quickly run out of things to say?

Anxiety Canada offers some practical advice for how to start, continue and end a conversation and boost your communication skills. Check out these tips:

Tips for Starting a Conversation

  • Start a conversation by saying something general and not too personal, for example talk about the weather (“Gorgeous day, isn’t it?”); pay a compliment (“That sweater looks great on you”); make an observation (“I noticed that you were reading a book on sailing, do you have a boat?”); or introduce yourself (“I don’t think we have met, I’m…”).
  • You don’t need to say anything extremely witty. It’s better to be sincere and genuine.
  • Once you have talked for a while, especially if you have known the person for some time, it might be appropriate to move on to more personal topics,e.g relationships; family matters; personal feelings; spiritual beliefs; etc.
  • Remember to pay attention to your nonverbal behaviour–make eye contact and speak loudly enough so that others can hear you.

Tips for Keeping a Conversation Going

  • Remember that a conversation is a 2-way street – don’t talk too little, or too much. As much as possible, try to contribute to about one-half of the conversation when speaking 1-on-1.
  • Disclose some personal information about yourself, such as your weekend activities, your favourite hockey team, or a hobby or interest. Personal information does not need to be “too personal”; you can start with giving your opinion about movies and books, or talking about things that you like doing.
  • Try to show a little vulnerability: it can even be OK to admit that you are a bit nervous (for example, “I never know what to say to break the ice”, or “I’m always so nervous at parties where I hardly know anyone”). However, take care – sometimes disclosing too much too soon can put others off.
  • Ask questions about the other person but when you are first getting to know someone, take care not to ask questions that are too personal. Appropriate questions might be to ask about their weekend activities, their preferences, or their opinion about something you said. For example, “How do you like that new restaurant?
  • Try to ask open-ended questions rather than close-ended questions. A close-ended question is one that is answered by a few words, such as yes or no, for example, “Do you like your job?” In contrast, an open-ended question invites much more detail; for example, “How did you get into your line of work?
  • Do I talk too much when I’m nervous?

Tips for Ending a Conversation

  • Remember, all conversations end sometime – don’t feel rejected or become anxious as a conversation nears its end. Running out of things to talk about doesn’t mean you are a failure or that you are boring.
  • Think of a graceful way to end the conversation. For example, you can say that you need to refill your drink, catch up with another person at a party, get back to work, or you can promise to continue the conversation at a later time or date (e.g. “Hope we’ll have a chance to chat again,” or “Let’s have lunch together soon.”)

Click here to learn more about how you can practice your conversation skills and expand your social connections!

Source: Anxiety Canada