couple laughing and having a conversation

7 Ways to Keep a Conversation Going and Keep Them Engaged

It’s happened to all of us: You’re in the middle of a conversation with someone when suddenly, you run out of things to say. You avoid eye contact, look at the ceiling, give an awkward smile — anything to fill the uncomfortable silence.

Whether you’re talking to someone you just met or on a date with your partner of three years, the potential for dead air is always there. So, how do you keep the conversation moving and grooving? We have some tips!

Here are seven ways to keep the conversation flowing and engaging:

1. Listen Actively

You can’t respond and engage with another person if you aren’t truly listening to what they’re saying. A one-way conversation in your favor doesn’t work — what do they want to talk about? What are they bringing to the conversation that you can expand on?

When you practice active listening, you’re not thinking about what you’re going to say while the other person is talking. You’re engaged and interested, which lets the other person know that you’re taking them seriously. When they feel as though you appreciate their input, they’ll be more inclined to keep the conversation going.

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2. Notice Your Body Language

Do you look interested, or are you sitting back with your arms crossed? Are you constantly looking at your phone or the things around you? A big conversation killer is acting uninterested, whether it’s intentional or not. Paying attention to anything besides the person that’s talking sends the message that you’d rather be anywhere else than there with them.

3. Embrace Small Talk

Turns out, small talk isn’t as cringeworthy as everyone thinks it is! Before you can really open up and be comfortable with someone, you have to start small. Go ahead and talk about the news, your favorite music, or the last movie you saw.

All of those little conversations will eventually open the door to deeper, more connected discussions. (Not to mention, if you share intimate details of your life too soon, the other person might not be ready!)

4. Ask Open-Ended Questions

When you or the other person starts asking a series of “yes or no” questions, it can cause the conversation to stall. The best solution is to ask open-ended questions. Instead of “Do you like concerts?” try “What type of music are you into?” Then you can follow up with the last concert they went to, the best concert they’ve ever seen, and who they want to check out in the future. (Think of it as a “ripple” effect.)

The goal of any questions you ask should be to expand on the original question. When you ask questions such as, “Do you like cats?” or “Are you into crime documentaries?” is a quick way to drive your discussion into a dead end.

5. Let Your Guard Down — To an Extent

Sometimes, we tend to filter out our thoughts during a conversation to avoid saying something “weird’ or “uncool.” What would happen if we just… stopped doing that? The best way to try this out is to talk to someone you can speak your mind around. Don’t hold back — tell them about that crazy dream you had, that embarrassing story from fifth grade, or your secret love of pineapple on pizza. The more open you are, the more it moves the conversation forward.

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6. Tell Interesting Stories (Even if They Aren’t About You)

Use stories from all over! Maybe you go with a heartwarming story you heard on the news, a funny story about a celebrity, or your sibling’s recent accomplishment that you’re super proud of. It’s a chance for each of you to gain insight into each other’s personalities and what you find interesting, funny, sad, etc.

That said, you should still keep gossip off the table, especially if you don’t know each other very well — it can definitely rub someone the wrong way. Tell stories that are relatable, engaging, and spark a conversation that both of you can participate in.

7. Respond With “Tell Me More”

When in doubt, ask them to go on! This is where active listening comes into play. If you’re interested in what they are saying, have them expand on their thoughts. For example, if they quickly mention that they were in the 7th-grade talent show, ask them what their skill was. Show that you’re genuinely interested in their stories! Not only does it show that you’re listening, but it also gives them the confidence and comfortability needed to keep the conversation flowing.

Not everyone is a great conversationalist. It takes time and practice to master “the art of conversation,” so cut yourself some slack! If you feel the discussion is lagging, try to stay calm, take a breath, and be yourself. An awkward, silence-filled conversation isn’t one person’s fault, nor is it a reflection of what they think of you.

Sometimes, two people need a verbal boost, and that’s what the above tips are for! Keep it light, fun, honest, and — above all else — genuine. When you let the real you guide what you have to say, and you can’t go wrong.

Find more ways to connect with your partner through Relish, an award-winning relationship coaching app! Relationship quizzes, games, insights, lessons, and advice from a professional coach await. Download the app and get unlimited access free for 7 days!

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