Handling a bad conversationalist can catch you off guard. Whether there are lulls in the conversation, the other person gives you one-worded answers, or she starts talking your ear off, keeping a conversation going can take some skill. So, touch up your lip-gloss and give ‘em a big smile, because I’m going to show you seven tips on how to keep that conversation going when handling a bad conversationalist.
1. Ask Them the Basics
When handling a bad conversationalist it’s good to start with simple questions. Asking questions like, where did you grow up? Do you have siblings? How did you end up at this (party, wedding, dinner) are all easy ways to have someone open up and start talking. People generally like to talk about themselves if you give them the opportunity. It helps them to feel more connected to someone they’ve just met. Namely you.
2. Bring up Current Events
While politics and religion are usually off limits, there are no rules about discussing current events that bridge the gap between the two. Pop culture is a light way to open a topic and to allow some room for deeper conversation later.
3. Ask Them if They’ve Traveled
Ask them what their favorite trip was and where they’d like to go next. Not everyone has traveled so if you have mention a recent trip that you’ve come back from or a place you’d like to visit again. Traveling stories always brings people together whether you’re away or at home.
4. Ask Them about Their Favorite TV Show or Movie
How many water cooler conversations have started with, Did you see the last Game of Thrones episode? People are nutty about their favorite TV shows and asking someone what their favorites are is a sure fire way to get someone talking. If they’re not a TV watcher then ask what their favorite movies are or what they plan to see. Getting to know more about their taste in TV and movies might give you some insight into who they are. Or, if you hit it off, what you might be seeing next.
5. Be Positive
Being positive and energetic has a funny effect on people. It can make them feel the same way. Keep a light and happy air even if you have something pressing in the back of your mind. We all have difficulties in our lives, but expressing those at a dinner party is never a good way to keep a conversation going. If someone throws a depressing topic about their life at you that you’re not prepared to discuss try politely changing the subject if you can or introducing someone new into the conversation to change the energy.
6. When That Awkward Silence Comes…
Let it pass. There is nothing wrong with having a few seconds between thoughts. Sometimes the other person is just thinking of how to respond. Bring up another topic or revisit a topic they had mentioned before such as, So, you said you were visiting from Philadelphia for work?
7. When They Won’t Stop Talking
It’s awkward to force conversation but it’s even worse when you have a conversation forced on you. When someone finds an ear to listen it’s hard to pry them away. When this happens be respectful and try to excuse yourself between breaths. If there never seems to be a break put your hand lightly on their shoulder to grab their attention and tell them you need to: put money in the meter, check on a girlfriend, text your boyfriend goodnight. Feel free to improvise.
While handling a bad conversationalist can be tricky, learning how to be a good conversationalist is key to keeping things moving. You might not click with everyone you talk to but you may leave a lasting impression by simply listening. How have you dealt with a bad conversationalist? Let me know your stories!