“Why am I so bad at conversation?”
There are many reasons you say, “why am I so bad at conversation!” You may not be able to think of things to say or it’s just social anxiety. But what you can improve your conversations by adjusting your behaviors and pushing yourself to learn more strategies in social situations.
Below we have 10 ways for you to improve your conversations and how to make more friends.
You got this. Let’s go!
#1 Go where you feel comfortable being social
This is the first step on how to make friends is figuring out when and where you’re most comfortable talking to people.
The first question you should ask yourself is: “where do I feel comfortable talking to people?” We’ve all had good conversations no matter who you are, so consider the places, events, or moments, you’ve had good conversations that brought out the best in you.
To improve your conversation skills significantly, find a location, event, or a meeting where you feel comfortable talking to people. It can be key to socializing more comfortably and having great conversations. Don’t drain yourself of energy by forcing yourself to go places you hate.
Continue asking yourself, “where do I thrive the most?” Figure that out, you’ll start to see your conversations improve significantly.
Another question you can ask yourself:
Where can you go which will be lots of easy fun and actually talk to someone comfortably?
Once you find a more comfortable place or activity to have conversations, you’ll feel more confident. With confidence comes better conversations and a higher chance of meeting someone who is compatible. Which in our opinion, is the ultimate social prize.
# 2 Start a conversation with someone new
When we say, just “start a conversation”, we’re not saying, have a long and in-depth conversation, but more of a quick and simple chat with another person. Don’t think of having conversations as complex but simple moments to talk about your thoughts.
For example, when you’re out getting coffee, chat with the barista about their day, and or ask for a recommendation about what to eat. “Hey, how does the new lavender doughnut taste? Do you recommend it?”. 99% of the time they’ll be happy to give you a friendly response and you can count this a conversation.
Not all conversations are long and deep. They can be quick and simple.
Just get the conversation going. All that is stopping you, is you. If you want more tips on talking to strangers check our post on how to talk to a stranger. Also, The image below can give you an idea of how to approach someone you don’t know.
#3 Learn Fika, A Social Ritual
If you want to improve your conversation skills, be more outgoing with people at work. There are so many opportunities to practice at work.
What is Fika”? It’s often translated as “a coffee break”. However, it’s not just any coffee break, but a time for friends or colleagues to share a cup of coffee (or tea) and a little something to eat. It help strengthens relationships.
Use Fika as an opportunity to make new friends. Ask someone new or one of your current colleagues to take a break with you and just talk. Once you feel more comfortable chatting with people, invite others to your Fika break and you’ll start to see your comfort level increase when you’ve had more conversation rehearsals.
We also suggest you take a look at our article on how to hold a conversation. These tips will help before you even start talking.
#4 End more sentences with a question mark
Have you ever been on a date or in a meeting and the other person isn’t asking you any questions? Learn “questioning” skills and be more curious.
If you only learn one thing from this post, it should be knowing how to ask a good question. It’s important, because learning how to ask questions is a skill you need for your professional and personal relationships.
First, ask questions about who and what. Who are they are and what’s their experience? In any conversation, a back and forth of ideas should be exchanged and the discussion should be a continuous loop, on repeat.
Most people forget when learning how to improve conversation skills how beneficial good questioning can be. It will improve relationships and conversations 10x.
A conversation is a dance you perform to get to know someone and plays a vital role in establishing many of the relationships in our lives. But, you actually don’t need to talk as much as you think you do.
One of the first steps in becoming a better conversationalist and engaging more people is to become a better questioner. The quality of the conversation relies on four factors. See below.
#5 Learn to carry and extend a conversation
Asking meaningful questions can extend and greatly enhance the quality of conversation.
In step 4 we talked about how important it is to ask questions. Now, we’ll talk about how to ask those questions, because the power of asking the right questions will make you more likable and will improve your conversations overall.
Asking the right questions is a powerful way to discover meaningful information about the person you’re talking to.
Instead of asking, “How’s your day?” ask, “Tell me about your day? Or, What was good about your day?” Notice the difference?
Here are more examples:
“Tell me about your weekend?”
“What are some things that gets you excited outside of work?”
“Can you talk about what it was like to travel to Europe?”
Before we go into detail, here is a 5 step process on how you can extend and carry a conversation using questions.
#6 Start with basic topics or simple questions
These are “safe” topics or “feelers” questions which will give you an idea about who the person is or what their personality is like.
Here are some examples:
“It’s great to meet you! How are you?”
“How great to meet you! How’s your day been?”
“What’s your day been like?”
“Have you been here before? (If yes) What do you recommend eating?”
Use these questions (or variations of them) to start the momentum of the conversation. “Feeler” questions allow you to understand the person you’re with, beginning to build a bond, and learning which questions to ask next. After a few basic questions, start picking up the speed and begin to discover (listening for) meaningful things about who you’re talking to.
Some questions you can use are:
“What are your weekend plans?”
“Tell me about some personal projects you’re working on?”
“What do you recommend for fun activities this weekend?”
“Working on anything exciting lately outside of work?”
#7 Use clues you’ve discovered after asking the question
If you ask — “What are your plans this weekend?” and they say, “I’m meeting up with friends to get drinks. Keeping it simple.”
Follow it up with:
“Sounds great. There are good bar options around here I’ve noticed. Do you have a favorite?”
“Great. It’s good to keep things simple. What are some other weekend activities you enjoy?”
“That’s great. How long have you known your friends for?”
Find common ground and shared experiences to build on. When you discover commonalities, you’ll build trust and become likable faster. When you accomplish this, it’s a great place to ask deeper questions.
Remember, this may also take a few separate conversations to reach this level of connection. Some people open up sooner (or later) than others.
Examples of deep questions.
“Can you tell me more about your family?”
“Does the work you’re doing now make you happy?”
“What was your last relationship like?”
“Where did you grow up, and what was your family like?”
These are good questions to venture into deep-conversations with when you’re ready.
Remember … A conversation is a dance requiring two people to be in sync with each other. It’s a loop or mutual push-and-pull, unfolding over time.
#8 Build your listening muscles
Believe it or not, listening is actually a significant factor in improving conversation skills.
“My friend stopped talking to me and I don’t know why?” If you’ve gotten this far in this post, this is important to learn. If you don’t have many friends, keep in mind people want you to listen to what happens in their lives.
If you’re not listening you won’t be able to listen for clues to find things in common or ask questions about an interesting idea. Be different and listen more. They’ll thank you for it.
Why listening matters and how to improve:
- Builds a sense of trust.
- Listening broadens your perspective and helps reduce misunderstandings.
- Create rapport and shows that you care about what others have to say.
- Take note of it what’s blocking you from listening.
- Manage your feelings and hold back the reaction by pausing.
- Reacting negatively will turn people off and you won’t make any friends.
#9 Be brief and use fewer details.
People who are long-winded will quickly lose their listeners.
Get into the habit of making your point quickly and concisely.
Trimming away excess detail is an easy way to self-edit. According to Joe McCormack, author of Brief, people can only hear about 750 words a minute. The more brief your response is, the more people will hear you and, most importantly, like you.
But there’s a simple way to make sure you’re truly heard in any conversation, by using the “Traffic Light Rule.”
30 seconds the light is green: The listener is probably paying attention.
60 second mark, the light is yellow: Your listener is starting to get distracted.
1 minute mark, the light is red: Your listener is bored or politely pretending to listen.
Take a moment to pay attention to the people you’re talking to. If they’re squirming, looking somewhere else, or trying to walk away, then you’re talking too much. Bring people back to the conversation by asking a personal question.
Need more help with holding conversations? Here is where you can learn more about how to hold a conversation.
#10 Join a social group or get social every week.
Learning how to improve conversation skills doesn’t happen overnight and as we said before, you have to practice.
We suggest getting involved in community events or join some type of social club because these activities can be where you can practice your conversation skills.
Here are some activities you should consider trying:
Explore local happenings with Eventbrite events
Enroll in a class – Go to lessons.com to find a class near you.
Get involved in volunteer opportunities
Check out meetup.com – you can find all types of social activities or create a group for your special interest.
If you want to meet people online, then check out these options:
friendmatch.com – With FriendMatch, you can make friends from nearby or from around the world.
Bumble.com – Of course, this is for dating, BUT, you can also Learn how How to Make New Friends Online (Without Making it Weird)
#11 Find things in common by using small talk
How to improve conversation skills: Find something in common with with that person. Your conversation will be much easier.
To demonstrate, below is a quick conversation that shows how to arrive at the “I do too” moment during small talk.
Them: “Cool, you live in Brooklyn NY too?”
You: “Yea, near Atlantic Ave.”
Them: “Oh nice! I do too!”
You: “I love the Daily Press Bar, near my apartment.”
Them: “I was there last night!”
You: “They have great trivia on Thursday. We should go.”
Them: “Yes! Let’s do it!”
Even though this is a simple example, it shows how one commonality can lead to a new friendship. In the end, discovering compatibility is a huge accomplishment in conversations. It almost always solidifies a connection and can be used for a more in-depth conversation.
Make your small talk conversations easier
1. Give Compliments – Mention how you like something about their style, experience, or point of view. Giving someone praise for who they are will make you more likable.
2. Read Up on Current Events – Knowing what’s happening in the world can broaden conversations and help you find things in common. Even if it’s a simple fact. Check the facts here.
3. Show sincere interest – Good small talkers are genuinely interested in the details of other people’s lives.
To sum it up, if you want to have deeper conversations, find things in common, and talk about them. The only way to accomplish this is if you start learning how to small talk.
Here is our ultimate guide on small talk.
#12 Chat with a stranger today
Reaching out to a stranger will actually make you feel happier. Research suggests we are underestimating the positive impact of connecting with others.
As an adult, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to avoid talking to strangers, because most people are safe. If anything, talking to strangers is a good thing because it can help expand our social circle and build solid relationships with people.
Here’s our article on how you can talk to strangers using 4 easy steps.
Also, here’s a great video on the reasons why it’s a good idea to talk to strangers. Research has found people are more comfortable talking about themselves to strangers than they do friends and family. People often feel more understood by strangers. Find out why.
What you can do right now?
Download our Tool Kit for free (mini-course, social blueprint, and more). Prepare more when you go out to socialize. We think if you join our community or read a few more blog posts, you won’t be saying, “why am I so bad at conversation?”
But you’ll feel more confident, and prepared and you’ll know what to do next, especially, when it comes to socializing.
Check out our course below!