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  • Héctor A. Venegas

5 rules to keep a conversation going

The other day I was at a dating evening. One of those, where single people meet to get to know other people and maybe find common interests.

Being a single it is my interest not to stay that forever and maybe one day find my significant other somewhere. By swiping left and right I don't see that happening for me. I definitely prefer the real face-to-face version to see if attraction is there. But real interaction beyond swiping is complicated.

As in any occasion, where people come together and want to talk to complete strangers, the first step feels the hardest, but actually isn’t.

You state your name and ask for the other person’s name.

Bam! That’s easy!

The hardest part is about to start…

Oh no… now I know her name…and she knows mine…

OK, here is one… ”where are you from?”

… wow, we are both from Cologne….WHAT NOW????

This is the part where good conversation skills come into place and bad conversation skills lead to a big disaster.

So, I was observing the people on that evening. So many had problems getting over the first few sentences. It happened so many times, that this awkward and terrifying silence grew between them, even if they actually seemed to be interested in talking to one another.

When that happens one of the two, will either turn to another person or try to kill the awkwardness by looking at their phone or leaving to the bathroom or getting a drink.

They will do anything to escape the situation.

This pattern happens so many times in networking events or dating evenings. It ruins the first impression. And we all know how important this first impression is, that we do so much to get it right.

The good news is, keeping the conversant going is a skill you can learn!

Here are 5 rules that are important for a start:

1. Ask open questions!!!

A closed question will lead to a closed and short answer and stop the flow of any conversation, before it even started.

When you use open questions, it will give the other person more possibilities to share experiences and stories, which you can pick up on.

2. Be interested, not interesting

A networking or dating situation is not the time for an elevator pitch!

You can totally share what you do for living and what drives you, but not with the intention to make yourself interesting for the other person. If you focus too much on presenting yourself, you will not have enough time to listen and understand the other person.

If you are interesting, she/he will think “she/he was interesting…”, if you are interested, she/he will think “he/she likes me…”. You get the point!

3. YES, AND… mentality

In improv there is the “YES, AND…” rule. To keep the flow running, you should never focus on the NO, BUT… as this will not only show the other, that you disagree and do not like his/her standpoint, it will also show a lack of interest in the other persons ideas and it will ruin the flow of the conversation. If you have a YES, AND… mentality, you will be able to keep the conversation developing and flowing.

You don't have to and maybe you shouldn't say the words “Yes and…”, as it will also feel awkward, but think it and express it with other words.

4. be honest and show vulnerability

Being honest is the key for any relationship. It will open doors, that you never knew existed.

Being honest gives the other person the possibility to not only liking you, but also trusting you. That is what we should try to accomplish. Being honest also goes along with showing some vulnerability. This is hard for a lot of men unfortunately. We tend to think that we always have to be the strong part in a relationship. Well I can tell you that's wrong. Be strong, when you can be and when it is needed. Be vulnerable when you feel you can share your weaker sides. This will show that you are the trustworthy person you are inside.

5. be funny

Fun is the greatest door opener of all.

Not everyone is a naturally born comedian. This is not what I mean, by saying you should be funny.

Fun is what happens when we set an atmosphere of relaxation and trust. That's when we can let go and we can show our whit and comedy. When you playfully banter a little with the other person, you are a great step further in really getting to know that person. And you will ensure to keep the conversation going.

Try it! You will see how it works!

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