If you want to improve your overall social skills, use conversation threading throughout your interactions.
This is way easier than you think and it’s all about extending the conversation with what you’re already talking about. It’s simple. You probably thread your conversations more than you think.
So, if you’re trying to learn different techniques to extend a conversation beyond small talk, conversation threading is highly suggested. You can use this technique in any social situation and once you’ve gotten the hang of it, you’ll start to see how much easier conversations will be.
Conversation threading is a technique that will enhance your overall conversation. It will also allow you to continue a social interaction continuously without feeling like, you’ll run out of things to say.
But, before we get started, if you want to go all-in, check out our next-level conversation course, you can view it here.
Now, let’s go!
What is conversation threading?
Ask a simple question to get the conversation started. This allows for the momentum to build.
Next, wait for the person to answer, and listen for conversation clues. Such as “I love to travel”.
Now, follow up with an open-ended question about the conversation clue you’ve just heard. This extends the conversation. Such as, “Tell me about a place you’d like to travel next?”
Wait for the person to answer, and again, listen for clues that will help you ask additional questions. They say, “I’ve learned so much about other cultures while traveling.” Followed by your open ended question, “That’s amazing, tell me about some of the things you’ve learned while traveling?”
Protip: The cycle of conversation threading can keep going and going if you’re actively listening and are sincerely interested in the conversation.
5 examples of conversation threading you can use today
#1. “Where are you from?” followed by “What is your hometown like? How is it different than here?”
#2. “What do you do?” followed by “What made you enter your profession? What inspires you about that type of work?”
#3. “Have you attended these networking events before?” followed by “What did you think of today’s speaker?”
#4. “Did you have a good weekend?” followed by “What kind of fun did you get into?”
#5. “Did you like the restaurant?” followed by “What do you recommend eating there?”
These types of threads can nudge the conversation into deeper, more authentic territory – where introverts tend to thrive.
How to extend the conversation using threading
Here are some examples we think can give you a better idea of how threading can go beyond just a few questions.
For the first example, let’s say you’ve already made small talk and now the other person is talking about their day.
They say: “My day was great. I’m tired from a long day of work.”
You say: “Oh, I’m right there with you. What type of work do you do?”
They say: “I work as a consultant with tech firms.”
You say: “Nice. Sounds like an interesting job. What’s it like working with tech firms?”
They say: “It’s ok. They can be needy but it’s interesting to see how our consultation helps them grow.”
[Side note] So you can either transition here or continue the conversation on the topic of their job.
You say: “I bet it’s validating to see how your work helps grow a company.”
They say: “Yea it is actually!”
[You transition] “So, beyond your career, what are some things you like to do outside of work?”
They say: “Oh, I enjoy biking, traveling, and hanging out with my friends, and I have a great dog too.”
You say: “Sounds like a fun active lifestyle. I really enjoy bike riding too. I was biking in upstate New York this weekend.”
They say: “I was biking through Central Park this weekend!”
You say: “We should go biking sometime to check out some trails.
They say: “That would be great!
Small talk and conversation threading are intertwined. Most likely you’ll start with small talk and then follow with a conversational thread. Watch our 60-second video to give you more insight on small talk and how you can build the conversation.
Use conversation threading as follow-ups to details mentioned in a conversation.
Here are 2 examples:
You ask – “What are your plans this weekend?” and they say, “I’m meeting up with friends to get drinks. Keeping it simple.”
Follow up with: “That sounds great. There are good bar options around here I’ve noticed. Do you have a favorite?” Or, “Great. It’s always good to keep things simple. What are some other weekend activities you enjoy?
You can continue threading the conversation …
“You mentioned your friends. What are your friends like? How long have you known them for?”
Or, stop threading and create another topic. You can either share your experiences or continue asking questions and thread the conversation together.
The person you’re talking to will most likely ask you the same question or something similar. When they do, elaborate, and don’t be afraid to add details about yourself, or share your experiences.
“Don’t rush it or act disinterested. This will not help the other person open up to you.”
image from betterup
Find common ground and shared experiences to build on
When you discover commonalities, you’ll build trust and become likable faster. You accomplish this by sharing similar experiences and achieving compatibility.
After establishing trust and compatibility, discussions over shared experiences give the other person a sense of freedom that allows them (and you) to be open and honest. This is known as “bonding”, allowing you to have deeper conversations and discover more about the person you’re talking to.
Keep in mind this might take a few different conversations to reach this level of connection. Some people open up sooner (or later) than others.
Share your experiences using conversation threading
“Tell me about your day?” Short response: “It was good. Just got out of work.”
A better response: “My day was good. I enjoyed my time at work, and finally finished a huge research project for my boss. So glad to be getting a drink soon. You should come.”
This comment gives detail but leaving enough curiosity for the listener to ask questions. It helps the other person bounce back a comment or question. Keep the momentum going by having the conversation go back and forth. This is how you can take control of a conversation.
Remember, ask more open-ended questions. They’re more meaningful
To keep the momentum of the conversation going, ask better questions or open-ended questions (deep and meaningful)
Examples of deep and meaningful questions:
“What’s your family like. What’s it like to spend time with them?”
“How are you going spend the weekend?”
“Tell me about your last relationship like?”
“What was it like growing up in NYC?”
At some moment in the conversation, make the other person the focal point of the conversation.
Make the other person at some moment of the conversation the focal point by being curious and exploring with genuine interest.
When you lead with curiosity and ask thoughtful questions that allow someone to share or “have the floor”, you build a connection (that leads to trust).
As you ask more questions, you’ll likely find commonalities and have shared moments, which are quick ways to build momentum and a bond with the other person.
You got this! Learn and practice these strategies to improve your conversation skills and you’ll see an instant improvement.
Start with a closed-ended question followed by an open-ended question
Sometimes you need to start a conversation with a closed-ended question, and that’s ok. A few reasons this is a good idea is because you’ll be able to get a feel for the person you’re talking to just by asking a yes or no question. This gives you a bit of an idea if they’re available to conversate. Then, once you get the feeling someone is available to chat, follow up with an open-ended question.
For example, “Hey, how was your day today?”, and they say, “It was great!” You can follow up with an open-ended question such as, “Oh that’s great to hear! What was great about your day?”
Then, continue to use open-ended questions to keep the momentum of the conversation. Also, keep in mind, if you want to transition the conversation, you can use an closed-ended question.
Here’s a quick summary of how you can use conversation threading and what you can do to continue to improve your social skills.
Actively listen for additional threads. Sincerely be an engaged listener when someone is talking to you.
Use more open-ended questions. Good questions are how you keep introducing new threads and extend the conversation. This keeps the person talking. Get the person you’re talking with to share their ideas, experiences, opinions, and stories.
Share your stories and experiences too. If the person you’re talking to says something you have knowledge about or an experience with, then this is an opportunity to jump in and share your own experience.
Feel free to transition to a new thread. You don’t have to only respond to what others are saying. But, when appropriate, don’t hold back to transition to another topic or thread. Feel free to experiment and see where the conversation goes.
Reinforce what people are saying to you. Half of the conversation is repeating or validating what people are saying to you, or agreeing with them.
Have general knowledge about what’s happening in the news, and current events. Get a life. Have more interests and hobbies. Or if you don’t, then start. This will allow you to have more experiences and stories to share during conversations. It will make it easier to connect with people who have similar interests.
Practice. Having conversations with a friend or watching conversations online can help. If you have anxiety it’s often easier to have a conversation with someone you trust than someone you just met. If you’re shy, start small and have easy goals.
Let go of mistakes fast. Everyone makes mistakes. And, every conversation will have some type of mistake. Such as, mispronunciations or actually forget what to say next. That’s ok and just part of being human. Don’t let any temporary roadblock get in the way of building genuine connections with people.
These are all key tips to help improve your overall social skills. Do your best to keep the “conversation threading” steps in mind the next time you’re at a social event. Ultimately, the more mindful you are of your conversations, the easier it will be for you to genuinely connect with people and build better relationships.
You got this!
To learn more about our conversation course, click here. We can help you take your conversation to the next level. Or, sign up for our tool kit below.
What else you can do right now?
If you feel like your social skills keep getting worse, talk to a close friend or a professional counselor about the feelings you have.
Or, you can prepare more when you go out to socialize. Joining our community and Download our Tool Kit for free (mini-course, social blueprint, and more)
We think if you join our community, take our course, or just read a few more blog posts, you won’t be saying, “I hate socializing”. But you’ll feel more confident and know what to say.