Do you know that feeling when you go out with someone and have nothing to say to each other after ten minutes?
The conversation feels stagnant, and as you’re trying to drag out uninteresting topics for fear of awkward silence, your social batteries are running out by the second.
It’s happened to most of us at some point or another. And while this sometimes means that you and the other person just don’t click, it can also happen as a result of poor conversational skills.
Luckily, the latter can be learned and integrated into your daily life!
People who use these 9 phrases are usually great conversationalists – so let’s learn a thing or two from them today.
1) “Oh wow, tell me more about that!”
My best friend has many amazing qualities, but the one I cherish the most is how amazing each and every interaction with her is. This is because she knows how to make you feel heard, understood, and appreciated.
More than that, though, she genuinely cares about you, which means she often tends to encourage you to keep on talking about yourself.
The topic in question may have nothing to do with her – you might be talking about an exam you had or a date you went on, for example – but she will intently listen to everything you have to say, ask follow-up questions, and show you that she wants to know every single detail.
Is there a better feeling than when someone is actually interested in what you have to say?
So, rule number one: show people that you truly care about them by encouraging them to open up and keep talking (if they feel comfortable doing that).
2) “I completely get that, I’d feel the same way”
The next phrase you can use to connect with someone is to say, “I’d feel the same way if I were you. I completely get it!”
This is because when someone’s confiding in you, their primary intention is to feel heard and understood. They want to know that their feelings are valid and that they’re not all alone in it.
Expressions of solidarity and compassion are therefore very important during any conversation. If you can relate to what the other person is describing, don’t hesitate to say so.
3) “How did that make you feel?”
I’ll be the first person to say this phrase sounds a bit like you’re somebody’s therapist, but hear me out – context matters. And sometimes, people truly do want to talk about their emotions in depth, they just don’t know how or are scared of monopolizing the conversation.
When you ask someone about their feelings, you’re letting them know that you want to get to know them on a deeper level. You’re showing a genuine interest not only in the external circumstances of their life but also in what happens on the inside.
“I went on a date with this guy I really liked, but he said he didn’t want to take it any further.”
“Oh, I see. How did that make you feel? Are you okay?”
“My self-esteem took a bit of a hit, I’m not going to lie, but then…”
Now that they’re talking about their feelings, you’re opening up a whole new level of conversation that can lead to a meaningful connection.
4) “A similar thing happened to me once…”
It may seem counterintuitive to start talking about yourself when someone’s telling you about their own life, but it’s actually a very effective way to have an enriching conversation.
This is because people love to bond over shared experiences. If you tell someone you’ve been dumped, and they say the same thing happened to them once, you can now discuss all the ins and outs of breakups without feeling like it’s all about you.
Of course, it’s important to pick your moment. You shouldn’t always turn the conversation to you and you only. But mentioning that you have some experience with what the other person is talking about can help them feel understood and encourage them to talk about the issue in more depth.
5) “I completely understand if you don’t want to share”
While it’s always a good idea to encourage others to talk about themselves – who doesn’t love discussing their issues with someone they can trust? – you should also let the other person know that there’s no pressure, especially if you’re talking about something vulnerable.
“Do you want to talk more about it? I completely understand if you don’t want to share, but if you do, I’m here for you.”
This gives the other person enough room to decide if they want to go in more depth or if they’d rather leave it be for now and change the topic.
It also shows an inherent sense of respect, something that will help you build your relationship on the stable foundations of trust and safety.
6) “What do you think about…?”
Alright, let’s move on to something a bit simpler. If you want to take your conversation in a new and interesting direction, why don’t you just ask the other person a question?
It may seem like a strange idea to change the topic so abruptly, but if they ask you what made you think of this question, you can just say it popped into your head and shrug it off. All in all, they’ll probably be grateful you came up with something new to talk about and won’t question it.
(Tried and tested.)
Plus, many people like to be asked questions about their opinions and worldviews. It makes the conversation more interesting.
7) “I haven’t thought about it that way before”
Once you begin to discuss more philosophical and abstract concepts, there is a high chance you’ll hear some new or even challenging opinions.
This is a good thing. It means there’s a lot of room to have an intellectually stimulating discussion.
Unfortunately, many people stubbornly stick to their guns and refuse to accept any opinion other than their own, which is where many conversations stagger and come to a halt.
If you want to show that you’re an open-minded individual who’s happy to be challenged and approach certain topics from new directions, all you have to say is something along the lines of, “That’s an interesting idea. I haven’t thought about it that way before.”
8) “Let’s agree to disagree”
Not always will you be able to see the other person’s point of view, and not always will you want to. And in some cases, that’s okay and completely understandable.
But people who are great conversationalists don’t put the other person down or insult them. They try their best to argue their point and come to a common understanding.
And if even that doesn’t work, they just agree to disagree. This may seem like an unsatisfying conclusion to a discussion – no one’s managed to convert anyone to their side or get some sense of why the other person thinks the way they do – but at the end of the day, the fact that you’re able to respectfully close the discussion and move on to something else is what matters.
And if the other person’s opinions clash with your values too much, you can always choose to emotionally detach yourself and not seek out any further interaction with them.
9) “What about you?”
This final phrase is the easiest, and yet many people underestimate its power and avoid it.
If someone asks you a question, all you have to do is ask the same question back. It sounds easy enough, right?
But the truth is, I’ve met countless people who simply never ask back. And if there’s a foolproof way to destroy a conversation, it’s to show an absolute lack of interest in somebody’s life or opinion on the matter at hand.
Sometimes, a simple “What about you?” will help propel the conversation forward.