What to do when the topic dies out in a conversation

I spent this Saturday at a friend’s place in Manhattan.

When the conversation dies outMy friend’s balcony

When a conversation topic dies out he uses a simple, but genius, question to keep the conversation going:

“How’s X?”

X is something he and the other person have talked about before. It could be work, a project, a trip, or some person they’ve discussed…

  • How’s your new car?
  • How’s work?
  • How’s it going with that guy/girl you met?
  • How was your trip to Chicago?
  • How’s your crazy neighbor?

Even though “How’s X?” is a simple question, it’s clever and should be used more. Here’s why:

It’s great to get a new topic started when the current one dies out, and you’ll be more confident knowing that you can always fire off a “How’s X”-question.

But there’s a deeper, hidden benefit with this question.

Studies show that when someone listens to us or cares about us, we like that person more.

“How’s X” shows that we listen and care. Simply put: When you ask “How’s X”, you become more likable.

Think back to a conversation you had with a friend. What can you ask about the next time you meet and a topic dies out?

The more excited or the more they care about something, the happier they’ll be that you asked about it. Don’t ask about stuff they aren’t interested in. Focus on what they really care about.

Also, check out this guide on how to keep a conversation going for as long as you want.

One friend of mine is applying for a scholarship, so I can ask her “How’s the application going?”

Another friend just built his own gaming computer, so I can ask him “How’s the new PC?”

A third friend just moved back home to France, so I can ask her “How’s Paris treating you?”

A while back I made a related video on how to never run out of things to say using “Conversational threading”. You should check it out here.

For in-depth info about how to make more interesting conversation, check out my mega guide here.

Let me know what you think in the comments!

David Morin is the founder of SocialPro. He's been writing about social skills since 2012. Follow on Twitter or read more.

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