Quick tips for making conversation
- Quick tip 1Wait for a break in the conversation.Wait for a break in the conversation.
Looking for a break in the flow of conversation can help people avoid barging in. Questions like “Is it OK if I join you?” are useful when joining a conversation.
- Quick tip 2Ask “wh” questions.Ask “wh” questions.
It’s important to say something related to what others are saying. Use “wh” questions (who, what, when, where, and why) to get up to speed.
- Quick tip 3Use phrases that show attention.Use phrases that show attention.
People want to know that others are paying attention during a conversation. Use words or phrases like “right” or “that’s cool.” Make sure to mix them up a little to avoid saying the same thing over and over.
- Quick tip 4Learn from examples.Learn from examples.
Use videos, TV shows, or real-life events to look at conversations in action. Look at people’s body language and other cues. For example, notice when people in a conversation are looking around and seem open to others joining.
- Quick tip 5Role-play conversations.Role-play conversations.
Some people need more practice with conversations. Role-play different scenarios to help make conversations easier.
Plenty of people don’t love making conversation, especially small talk. Some think they’re “bad” at it. Some are shy. But as long as they pick up on social cues, follow what people are saying, and talk in a way that makes sense, most do just fine.
Not everyone has those skills, however. Some people really do struggle with talking to others. This trouble with making conversation can have a big impact on self-esteem. It can also make it hard to fit in and make friends. And it can make people targets for bullying.
For kids, trouble making conversation can be a matter of development. Kids develop at different rates, and some just need a little more time. Other reasons both kids and adults might struggle to make conversation can be:
- Being slower at processing
- Trouble with social skills
- Trouble with language skills
Knowing the reasons behind trouble making conversation can help you figure out the best strategies for support.