How To Keep A Conversation Going Smoothly (Part Two)

Welcome to the second part of my guide on how to keep a conversation flowing smoothly. In the previous episode, we covered the theory behind why great conversations keep on going naturally. Here is a brief summary of what was covered in Part 1:

  • The power of listening properly
  • The necessity of not holding back your ideas
  • The importance of conversational offers & why you should use them
  • How to respond to what the other person says
  • How to deal with a person who blocks your flow…and more!

To help you put all of this useful theory taught in Part 1 into practice, I filmed some real life examples for you! To achieve this, I struck up a conversation with a stranger in the middle of London and used these techniques to create a conversation that flowed naturally.

Setting The Right Tone

Starting the conversation in an upbeat manner sets a positive social expectation for the other person to follow. When you meet strangers they typically react based on how you react to them, so take responsibility for the emotional vibe of the conversation and make it POSITIVE. In the video, you’ll notice that I break the ice by observing what she’s doing and then add a PLAYFUL spin on that observation.

The Secret Sauce Of Building On Offers

You may recall that conversations are kept alive by your ability to accept what the other person is saying, and then build on it further. These conversation building blocks are called ‘offers’ and are explained in more detail in this video.

Her first offer is: “I’m waiting for someone.” I accept this topic and build on it further by responding with: “I tell you what, there’s worse places you could be waiting..!”. Further down the line she mentions she is from Austria. Again, I build on this by saying that I’ve recently been to Switzerland (which is just next door!) The three secrets to flowing conversation are:

…and LISTENING intently!

The more you listen, the more offers you will hear and the more opportunities you will have to keep the conversation going! Resist the urge to butt in with your own comments. Instead, listen to what the other person is saying and build upon their offers.

Do You Make This Classic Mistake?

There’s nothing wrong with asking questions from time to time but a common error is to pay no attention to the answers that are given to you. This can get you trapped in a continuous loop of asking questions, which will eventually kill off the conversation. Break this loop by making a statement about every answer you hear.

If you’re wondering what to talk about, consider this shocking reality…

…the actual topics themselves are irrelevant! Remember – it’s not what you say, it’s HOW you say it. Any topic can be exciting as long as you add enough POSITIVITY and ENTHUSIASM.

In this video, I manage to turn the topic of the weather (arguably one of the most boring conversation topics in human history!) into something engaging by wrapping an upbeat emotion around my words.

The trick is to stay away from logical facts and focus more on how the topic makes you FEEL. For example, if you discuss the likelihood of rain it will be a dull topic. However, if you take the further step of adding how a rain-soaked day makes you feel and what affect it could have on your day, it becomes engaging.

Building Rapport And Hitting the Jackpot

Always let people invest in the conversation as much as possible. This means they not only offer more talking points, but they tend to open themselves up to you. The longer you talk with someone, the more likely you are to find commonalities. As my conversation develops, my rapport with the girl I am talking to improves. A ‘tell-tale’ sign of this is when she starts to build on my offers to expand the conversation. This is the jackpot moment where the conversation transitions from idle chit-chat to something a little deeper.

Speak Your Mind!

Toward the end of the interaction, I make an evident conversational blunder when I block my line of thought by thinking to much about my own thought processes, rather than expressing myself. This internal censorship blocks the conversational flow. After all, you can’t speak to yourself in your mind and expect to hold a conversation at the same time!

Some Extra Tips That Will Help Create ‘The Tennis Ball Effect’ in Conversation…

  • When the person you are talking to respond logically to a humorous remark, it’s a good sign to tone down the ‘funny’ vibe, otherwise you risk breaking rapport with them. In other words, temporarily drop any playfulness if they reply in a serious manner, and vice versa.
  • If you get stuck on one topic and want to move on, draw more attention to the fact that you’re talking about it! For example, if you get stuck asking lots of questions, talk about that very fact: “Ha! This could almost be a job interview!..I’ve had a few bad ones…don’t fire me just yet okay!”
  • When the other person blocks your conversation topics, the best thing to do is be patient. It usually means your topic wasn’t engaging enough to distract the other person’s thought process. Look at this as a sign to search for new topics and great practice for you to realise what your counterpart finds interesting. Listen to them and seize their offers.

In the next episode of The Vault, we’re going to take a little detour. You’re going to see how you can apply all the charismatic skills you’ve been developing to make very special occasion extra memorable!

Further Reading

“Truth In Comedy: Manual Of Improvisation” by Charna Halpern