The Little Known Technique Actors Use to Keep Conversations Going

I often get asked how to keep conversations going when you don’t know what you should ask. It’s very simple. I just “borrow” a technique from professional actors that they use for improv every day.

Listen to what the other person says, and repeat it in a meaningful way.

By doing that, you will often get more information, which you can then use to deepen the conversation.

Example:

“Yesterday, I was at the gas station for two hours.”
“You were at the gas station for two hours??”
“Yes, I just wanted to refuel, but suddenly I saw oil dripping from the car.”

Now you have more info and can turn the conversation in any direction you want.

Example:

“Where did the oil come from?”
“Turns out the engine had been leaking for quite a while without me noticing.”
“How did you not notice? Wasn’t there an oil spot in your garage?

Or you can take another route:

“Oh my god. Sounds dangerous. What did the mechanic say?”

Or you can even introduce emotion and make a compliment:

“Oh no! If I was in that situation, I would feel so helpless. I admire how calm you stay in situations like that.”

As you can see, by using this technique you can keep every conversation going as long as you want and turn it into every direction you want.

Advanced: Knowing when to take over the conversation

In conversations with people, I am often shocked by how abruptly they take over the conversation.

I’ll show you what I mean with our starting example.

“Yesterday, I was at the gas station for two hours.”
“You were at the gas station for two hours??”
“Yes, I just wanted to refuel, but suddenly I saw oil dripping from the car.”
“Oh, that also happened to me once. It was a disaster that took me a full day and cost over $1000.”

DON’T do this! That’s considered a hostile takeover.

When you just start talking like that, it shows your conversational partner that you don’t give a damn about them. It’s rude, it’s egotistical, it’s inconsiderate. In short, it makes you a prime example for a bad listener.

There is still a lot of information left to find out before you can start talking.

  • Where did the oil come from?
  • What did you do next?
  • How did you feel in that situation?
  • Did it ruin your plans for the day?

Once you have talked about all of that, and you can feel that the conversation is getting slower, it’s time to make a statement. Just don’t be one of those egomaniacs who uses every chance to talk about themselves.

Getting a feeling for when to take over and when to keep listening is a matter of experience and empathy. When in doubt, rather listen than talk.

Now repeat after your conversational partner, listen to what they have to say, and never feel clueless in social situations again.

All the best,

Julian

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