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I often used to run out of things to talk about. Either because I got stuck in small talk that died out, or because I tensed up so that my mind went blank.
Sometimes, a conversation is meant to end and there’s no need to push it. But if you often run out of things to say, this guide is for you.
1. Practice saying what’s on your mind without filtering yourself
I used to worry that what I said would sound dumb or too obvious. When I analyzed socially savvy people, I learned that they say mundane, obvious things all the time.
When you start a conversation with someone new you may feel like small talk is awkward and meaningless. The truth is that small talk helps us “warm-up” to each other and signal that we’re friendly, easy-going and open for interaction. People will judge you for what you say as little as you walk around and judge others for what they say. Instead of trying to say smart things, say whatever’s on your mind.
2. Get past the small talk by asking something more personal
“I often run out of things to say with friends. I get stuck in small talk and the conversation dies out”.
Ask people slightly personal questions to make boring topics interesting.
If you talk about work, ask what they like the most about it or where they see themselves in the future. If you talk about rents, ask them if they have a dream of where to live.
This way, you move from small talk to personal mode. In the personal mode we learn about each others…
When you transition the conversation like this, you’re engaging the other person more and it’s easier to make conversation. At this point, you get to know each other rather than just making small talk.
3. Focus on the conversation whenever you get stuck in thoughts
Sometimes, all we can think about is if we come off as weird, if we’re blushing or that our heart is about to jump out of our chest. The key is to calm your mind by focusing intensively on what the other person is saying:
In a study conducted at Macquarie University on attentional focus in social anxiety, they found that when the participants focused their attention on what the other person was saying, instead of on their internal reactions like heart rate, blushing, concern over how they were being perceived, they were less nervous and had fewer physical reactions as a result.
When you focus on what your partner is saying you won’t have time to feed your internal anxiety because your mind is caught up in the conversation. When you worry less about you, it’s easier to come up with things to say.
4. Stop trying and it’ll be easier to come up with things to say
I decided to stop trying so hard. I accepted that conversation didn’t have to go great and that people didn’t have to like me. Ironically, that helped me relax and be more pleasant and likable to be around.
Rather than being on edge trying to come up with things to say, allow for silences. Be okay with taking a few seconds extra to formulate an answer. Rather than trying to make people like you, make sure that they like being AROUND you.
You can do that by being a great listener. When you talk, you say things that you think are fun or interesting for the other person to hear, not things that are supposed to make you look a certain way. (Humblebragging, talking about cool stuff you’ve done, etc.)
People want to be liked and heard and are interested in people who show them that kind of genuine attention. As Maya Angelou said, “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”