I may be able to write well, but I used to be ridiculously awkward in in-person conversations. Don’t get me wrong – if someone sparks an interesting conversation, I had no problem getting involved. But I was no expert when it came to starting one or keeping a dull conversation going. Looking back, I think part of the problem was that I always fears that others thought I was boring. Over the years, I’ve learned to spark up my side of the conversation so that I could at least appear to be more conversational and interesting. And then I learned that there is, in fact, some science behind being interesting in conversations. Here’s what you can do to make people not want to stop talking to you:
Make Eye Contact
This one was tough for me because I had always been an avoider. But, then I realized that I didn’t like when people didn’t look me in the eye. It made me feel as if they were being dishonest. Even though that wasn’t why I avoided eye contact (I was just, admittedly, socially awkward in my teens), I understood how other could have felt that way. So, I started forcing myself to look others in the eye when I talked to them. It felt creepy at first, but now it comes naturally. And you know what? Doing so has instantly made me feel as though others find me more interesting during conversation. Gaze plays a huge role in how our brains interpret others. So, start looking at the people you’re talking to and you’ll likely notice a difference.
Ask an Open-Ended Question
Not all conversations have to be focused on one viewpoint. In fact, they’re much more interesting when they aren’t! Get the juices flowing from yourself and your conversation partner by asking an open-ended question. Something that has no right or wrong answer and can’t really be debated. Offer your viewpoint, but don’t judge. You’ll likely start having quite the conversation without even having to try.
Show Genuine Interest in the Other Person
One of the biggest no-noes for conversations is talking about yourself constantly. I was never good at that, fortunately, but I also wasn’t great at thinking of questions to ask someone else. But, asking questions about the other person is the perfect way to break the ice and show that you value that person’s time. Asking good questions is the key to keeping the conversation going. This means that you need to ask things that aren’t yes or no questions, and also ones that aren’t too personal. Ask things about the other person that you’re genuinely interested in, like how he came to start his own business or how she feels about her company’s new benefits package.