Everyone needs to learn the secrets of how to carry a conversation.
Every day, we have conversations with people on different subjects.
Some of these are those we’ve known for a long time and are very familiar with, while others might be strangers.
Regardless of how long it is, we have known someone, starting and holding a conversation might sometimes be a challenge.
Holding a conversation with someone is an art that might be easier for some people for difficult for others.
This is the major reason why sometimes when two or more people are gathered, there could be a long awkward silence during conversations.
At such times, it takes what seems like skillful art from one or more of those involved in the conversation to keep it going.
Not knowing how to carry a conversation has resulted in so many breakdowns in relationships and even lost opportunities.
For a business owner especially, it is very important to learn how to carry a conversation.
You might be trying to build a rapport with a prospective client or network with a business partner and need to discuss with such ones.
Hence, if you do not learn the skill of communication whereby you can hold or carry a conversation, there is little chance for success.
Imagine that the person you are conversing with is not that skilled in this area or shy by nature.
The onus drops on you to keep the conversation going to a desirable ending.
See what it involves to carry a conversation, why it is important, and what skills you need to learn to do this.
What Does it Mean to Carry a Conversation?
To begin, let us define what the word ‘conversation’ means.
A conversation simply means having an exchange of ideas, news, thoughts, opinions with another person or people.
It involves a dialogue between two or more people, usually in an informal setting.
When you have a conversation with another person, you are talking with them on a subject of interest.
This discussion or dialogue can be done in a face-to-face setting whereby you are in the same room with the person/people.
Thanks to the advancement in technology, this can also be done over a telephone call or video call over the internet.
Sometimes, this dialogue or discussion might also be over a text, as some persons prefer texting to calling to have a conversation.
Whatever the means, the basic principle of having a conversation is the exchange of information, ideas, or thoughts between people.
Now that we know what a conversation is, let us now find out what it means to carry a conversation.
Carrying a Conversation
Usually, when it comes to communication, our abilities and skills differ.
While some people might be very versatile and efficient in the way they share ideas and information, some are more reserved or less effective.
That is why in every conversation between two or more persons, there should be an individual who holds down the conversation.
This one is the person directing the conversation so to speak, moving it to the way it ought to go.
Therefore, carrying a conversation is more or less holding a conversation and keeping it going.
When conversations between people end abruptly or a long moment of silence ensues, it simply means all parties involved are not doing a good job of carrying the conversation.
Hence, there should be at least one person who makes it his/her goal to keep it moving.
And that is who you want to be, hence the need for this article.
Why Learn How to Carry a Conversation?
Make no mistakes about it, starting and holding a conversation especially with a stranger is not the easiest of tasks.
Sometimes, discussing or having a dialogue with people we’ve known for a long time and have a relationship with can prove daunting.
Have you ever heard someone make the statement that a person is boring to converse with?
What that person is saying in effect is that the other party struggles to carry on a conversation.
Hence, starting a conversation is the easiest part of having a conversation.
With simple remarks like “Hello, Hey, Hi, Good Morning” e.t.c., you can easily start a conversation even with a stranger.
But then, the main work starts after the conversation gets off the ground.
Starting a conversation is like starting the ignition of a vehicle to get to a destination.
You might agree that even the most amateur or inexperienced person can carry out this task with minimal fuss.
However, what happens when the person is asked to move the vehicle from where it is to the point of destination.
That is where the ability and skill of the individual come under scrutiny.
And the ability to effectively drive the vehicle and get it to its destination is what matters.
In a similar vein, it is not just enough to know how to begin or start a conversation.
What is more important is knowing how to keep the conversation going or carrying the conversation once it gets off.
Benefits of Learning How to Carry a Conversation
As a business person, you need not be told how important open and effective communication is to your business.
Whether in your interaction with employees, customers, business partners e.t.c., you need to communicate and do it well.
Many of the top business deals and opportunities that a business enjoys come from closing such deals through keen and quality conversations.
If you wish to network with a thought leader or a top business mogul in your industry, for example, you will need to learn the art of conversation.
It might be easier to get such ones in a room with you or in the same space as you and start a conversation with them.
You might even be surprised that most people keep an open mind to dialogues and discussions that are enlightening and beneficial.
If you are the one approaching to converse with people, you should learn how to carry a conversation.
Some of the people you start conversations with might be shy by nature or even be people of very few words.
If you happen to be like them or worse off, then you are set for awkward conversations with no direction.
And that is what leads to people having a perception of you as being boring.
So, as you can rightly see, learning how to carry a conversation can help you both in your social life and career.
It can also give you the self-confidence to start conversations with people, even strangers.
This is because you know you are not just about starting the vehicle’s ignition, but you have the skill to move the vehicle to its destination.
Why Can’t You Carry a Conversation?
Which of these two aptly describes you?
- “I am a very jovial person, who easily starts up conversations and I always know what next to say to keep it going”.
- “I am a quiet and sometimes shy person, and I struggle with starting a conversation with people and I can’t even carry on a conversation with my close friends. It’s that bad.”
Well, if you are more of the first person, then you are doing well, and already on your way to mastering the art of carrying a conversation.
On the other hand, if the second description fits you more, then it means you have a challenge with carrying a conversation.
Anyways, it is not a message of doom, neither is it impossible to improve on the inability to carry a conversation.
However, before we learn how to carry a conversation, it would be proper to recognize the reasons why you might struggle to carry a conversation.
Here are some of them:
You are Shy
Sometimes, the reason you might be finding it hard to either start or carry a conversation is that you are shy.
Shy people generally have a hard time looking people in the face or interacting with people, especially those they meet for the first time.
If you are shy by nature, it won’t be a surprise that you struggle with communication.
This is because for a conversation to move, especially a face-to-face conversation, facial contact is important.
In a face-to-face conversation, It is one of the ways that you create a mental connection with the other person, and the conversation can flow more naturally.
Therefore, shyness can limit our ability to master the art and process of carrying a conversation.
Similar to being shy, another reason you might struggle with carrying a conversation is being socially anxious.
Social anxiety is a feeling of awkwardness, and lack of confidence in meeting people and conversing with them.
It might also be similar to introversion, whereby you are not the most social person and don’t just like being around people.
If you are like that, then it would be hard for you to carry a conversation.
At times, the only problem you have with carrying a conversation is your mindset.
Having the negative mindset that regardless of what you do, you cannot start or carry a conversation might be pulling you down.
The human brain works hand in hand with what we believe about ourselves, and hence the need to be mindful of what we feed our mind.
If you believe that you are bad at carrying a conversation, then you most likely would be bad at it.
Even when you have golden opportunities to do that, you will lose out on it because your mindset drags you back.
You Lack Genuine Interest in People
If you’ve ever been in a relationship either romantic or not with someone you truly love and care about, you will notice this in your conversations.
When you have a genuine personal interest in someone, the conversations with them flow naturally.
There is always something to talk about when conversing with them and rare moments of awkward silence.
Therefore, if you often find yourself struggling with carrying a conversation with a particular person, it might just be that your level of interest in him/her is low.
And that might also be a cause.
How to Carry a Conversation – Practical Measures You Can Take
When it comes to having conversations with people, you shouldn’t leave the important aspect of carrying the conversation to chance.
You cannot just go into conversations hoping that everything will sort itself out and you will have a long and meaningful one.
It would also be wrong to expect that the other party would carry the conversation, as this can end in disappointment.
Hence, you and you alone should work on your communication skills to ensure when you have the opportunity, you can both start and carry a conversation.
Here are some things you need to do:
Prepare In Advance for a Planned Conversation
While some conversations are informal and might not be pre-planned, some are planned.
Take, for example, you are attending a seminar of entrepreneurs, and you look forward to networking with a role model or prospective mentor there.
It means that you are planning to start a conversation with one or two-person at that gathering.
With this in mind, you shouldn’t just go into such conversations without preparing talking points.
You can think about what it is you want to discuss with such persons in advance and meditate deeply on those points.
As such, when the opportunity comes, you not only easily start the conversation, but carry it on well.
Even if your goal is to start a conversation with a stranger during the day, you can also give thought to talking points.
You can familiarize yourself with recent events, the weather, or other things around.
This can be a basis to start up and carry on a conversation.
Focus on Common Grounds
In your conversation with people, there are a lot of things that will come up and a lot to say.
Trying to always come up with new ideas or concepts can be difficult at times, and make holding the conversation hard.
Therefore, it is good to pick the common topics, ideas, or interests in the conversation.
When you are attentive enough to notice what common grounds you both have, it is easier to keep the conversation going.
Common grounds is even a good place to start conversations, as it has a more natural start.
And once you start, you can easily keep it going and carry the conversation on because there is a mutual understanding.
Have a Goal in Mind
Relating starting conversations and carrying on conversations to riding a vehicle as used earlier, a goal is important.
If you start a car and start driving, usually you have a destination in mind which is your goal.
Not having a clear destination in mind would lead to you getting stuck during your journey.
And with a short distance covered, you might not be able to continue.
The same is true with carrying a conversation with someone.
You do not just start conversations without having a goal or objective for that in mind.
If you do, you won’t be able to go far with it.
However, with a clear goal/objective for the conversation, it is easier to keep it moving and hold it for long.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
One reason we might be finding it difficult to keep a conversation going or hold down a conversation is using close-ended questions.
Close-ended questions are questions that only require a yes or no answer.
On the other hand, open-ended questions are questions that afford the other person an opportunity to express himself/herself more.
Instead of just replying with one-word answers or yes or no, they talk more.
For example, instead of just asking “hope you had a nice day?”, you can say “tell me how your day went”.
The former might attract answers like Yes or No, and that is it.
However, the latter question will make the person open up more.
And what more? from the answers, you can find other points or areas to further the conversation.
Show Genuine Interest in the Person and Subject
Conversations die a natural death when there is not enough interest in the person we are conversing with or the subject.
That explains why conversations with those we love and care about are often more enjoyable and last longer than those we don’t.
Even if the person you are starting a conversation with is a stranger, picking up an interest in them and the point of discussion will help you carry the conversation.
With genuine interest, you do not have to think too hard about what to say or wait for the other person to come up with something.
You will naturally have things to share and the conversation proceeds smoothly.
Maintain Eye Contact
If you are having a face-to-face conversation with someone, you must keep good eye contact.
When you look away when conversing with people, it might either indicate a lack of interest or come off as being dishonest.
And when the other party sense or feel this about you, they are more likely to not want to keep having a conversation with you.
But when you keep eye contact, it shows interest and can help carry the conversation.
Don’t Do All The Talking
We understand that this article is about carrying a conversation, but that doesn’t mean you dominate it.
If anything, your goal should even be getting the other person out of their shell and making them contribute more freely.
To do that, avoid dominating the discussion or being the only one asking questions.
When you ask questions after questions, it might come off as an interrogation or interview.
And the other party might get irritated by that.
Therefore, it is good to take turns in asking questions and allow them also express themselves how best they can.
It might not seem like it, but this is also you carrying the conversation.
Avoid Topics Your Conversation Partner Finds Sensitive
To carry a conversation especially with someone you just met, it is important to keep it to general and relevant subjects.
There are certain topics or subjects that people generally find sensitive and might not like to venture into.
It would be counterproductive to center your discussion around such subjects, lest you annoy the other party.
It is best to center your discussion on less sensitive issues and topics, so they are more comfortable.
This will make them contribute more and carry the conversation.
How to Carry a Conversation – Final Take
Starting a conversation is hard on its own, but even if you’ve mastered this, it is not enough.
The success of every communication process lies in the ability to keep it going till you realize the goal for it.
Hence, it is good to learn the skill of carrying a conversation.
And with constant practice, you can improve this skill.