Guy: “Hey, I’m Davis, what’s your name?”
Girl: “I’m LeeAnne.”
Guy: “Nice to meet you. Where are you from?”
Guy: “Hey, I’m Davis, what’s your name?”
Girl: “Hi, I’m LeeAnne.”
Guy: “Where are you from, LeeAnne?”
Guy: “That’s awesome, how do you like living there?”
Girl: “It’s great, the people are friendly and there is a lot of great places to eat.
Have you ever been?”
Boom. Conversation. Can you spot the difference between conversations A and B? Don’t worry, by the time you finish reading this article, you will know what factors make one of these conversations far superior to the other.
Is anxiety getting the best of you? Do you feel like your tongue is as dry as the Sahara Desert when you’re in front of an attractive woman trying to begin a conversation? Does realizing this make you clam up even more? Don’t worry, because the good news is that learning how to always have things to say can be learned and is completely within your grasp. Just keep reading.
There is nothing worse than a beginning to a conversation that ends a conversation or a conversation that ends because of awkward silence. I want to share some secrets with you that will take you from an amateur conversationalist to an advanced one in a matter of words.
The most important thing that you can do to prepare yourself to be a conversationalist is to get enough rest. I know, sounds strange, right? But when you’re hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, you express yourself through an emotional filter. This can be harmful when trying to make a light-hearted conversation with anyone.
Before I let you in on what I call the WALK Method, I want to share four things that you can do in any conversation to turn a stranger or an acquaintance into an intimate friend.
Those four conversation transformers are these:
- Ask Why?
What’s the easiest way to deepen a conversation with someone? It’s to ask them why. Why did you get an almond milk latte instead of a whole milk one? Why did you get into the job field that you’re currently in? Why do you prefer to walk to work rather than to ride your bike? Why do you use so many exclamation points in your text messages? Why? Why? Why?
Why do children always follow up with “why?” after they get an answer to a question? Because they are trying to learn more, trying to piece together the world around them, trying to learn how everything, including themselves, is connected. The same applies to people who are trying to connect with new people.
Do you remember when you were younger and just trying to figure out the world around you? Do you remember the posing to the adults around you the question of why?
- Kid: “Why do men stand to pee and women sit down?”
- Adult: “Because men and women have different private parts.”
- Kid: “But why?”
- Adult: “Because that’s how babies are born.”
- Kid: “How are babies born?”
If you don’t remember asking these questions yourself, I’m sure you have encountered children who incessantly ask why. Why do people have thumbs?
How this translates into dating and talking to women is using why as a way to dig deeper into the things that people say. Asking why they got into a certain job? Why do they love a certain hobby? You might be shocked at the answers and how much deeper your connection can go in a matter of seconds for asking someone why they love something like sewing.
Her response could be, “I love sewing because when I was little my mom used to always make all of my clothes and I have a lot of fond memories of going to pick out fabric at the fabric store with her. I guess I like sewing because it gives me those same feelings and it makes me feel accomplished being able to make something out of nothing.”
The holy grail of information. You’ve made contact; you have connected on a sub-surface level. Asking why as a follow-up question invites people to open up more and, in the process, you find a person with interests, passions, and motivations, and they find someone that is interested in them, and together you have created a friendship.
- “That reminds me of…”
Another way to move the conversation along is to make a statement by saying, ‘that reminds me of…” Use whatever information that the person with whom you’re speaking says and draw connections to your own life by saying, “that reminds me of…” That way you can seamlessly segue into personal stories that work to draw parallels between your lives.
This is a great transitional phrase that can not only move a conversation along, but it can also be used to find common ground upon which two strangers can connect.
We’re drawn to people who are similar to us. When you draw parallels between your life and a stranger’s life, you are making connections and points of contact upon which you can build.
Stories can also help you to build a communication bridge and find common ground. The important thing to remember here is not to make your story superior.
If a girl is talking to you about the time that she got in a serious car accident and was hospitalized for a few weeks after, don’t pipe in with a story saying, “oh that’s nothing compared to the time I drove a snowmobile into a tree on holiday and spent Christmas comatose in a foreign country’s hospital.”
Instead, try saying, “That’s an intense story! You seemed to have recovered ok. I had a similar experience when I was snowmobiling where I ended up in the hospital for a couple of weeks. It’s pretty life-changing, isn’t it?”
Making connections is the goal; it’s not a competition about who has the best story. Be spacious, as that allows friendships to grow.
- Use non-sequiturs:
The third way to ensure that you never run out of things to say is to use non-sequiturs. The dictionary defines a non-sequitur as a “conclusion or statement that does not logically follow from the previous argument or statement.” How you should use it is to make assumptions about someone. You can use it as a conversation starter or when you want to change the subject.
An example of a conversation starter could be when you’re meeting a new co-worker and you work at a law office, you could say, “you look like you’ve done this before.” Her response could be, “I have actually.” You respond with, “what was your last job?” and there you find an entry point into some conversation.
You can also use non-sequiturs in the middle of a conversation if you’re running out of things to say.
- You: “You look like you are someone who enjoys hiking.”
- Her: “I actually love hiking, but how did you come to that conclusion?”
- You: “you seem comfortable in nature.”
Make observations about the girl with whom you’re speaking. Does she light up when she passes a dog on the street? You could say, “you’re quite the dog lover.” Make observations about how she carries herself and how she interacts with the world around her and then make a statement about it, but not about whether you like it or not. Affirm her likes and her observations. This is not the time for opinions; it’s about observations and affirmations. Observations, affirmations, and questions are the threads that sew a conversation together. They are also the fabric that binds you and her together in a conversation that can lead to a more intimate connection.
- Ask Open-Ended Questions
This brings me back to our opening dialogue when you read two different conversations and I said that I would point out why one worked better than the other.
- Guy: “Hey, I’m Davis, what’s your name?”
- Girl: “I’m LeeAnne.”
- Guy: “Nice to meet you. Where are you from?”
- Girl: “Halifax.”
- Guy: “Hey, I’m Davis, what’s your name?”
- Girl: “Hi, I’m LeeAnne.”
- Guy: “Where are you from, LeeAnne?”
- Girl: “Halifax.”
- Guy: “That’s awesome, how do you like living there?”
- Girl: “It’s great, the people are friendly and there is a lot of great places to eat. Have
- you ever been?”
As you can recall, in conversation A, a guy asked a girl a very specific question that elicited a one-word answer, “What do you do for work?” Doing so is not bad or wrong, but it just shortens the conversation time. If you’re looking to keep a conversation flowing, and get to know as much information about someone, then it’s important to ask thoughtful, open-ended questions like, “How do you like living there?” That way, the person with whom you’re speaking is required to give you more than just a short one-word answer. The question invites her to share her feelings towards her home town, to share something of herself with you. The question presupposes a body of knowledge and experiences that the person tasked with answering must possess. In responding to your question, mutual interest is established.
THE WALK METHOD
Now that we have established the larger parameters in which conversations flourish, allow me to let you in on a little secret that will ensure that you never run out of things to talk about. This is the WALK Method. It’s four topic areas that apply to every person and will ensure that you are always able to maintain a conversation with anyone that you meet. The four topic areas are work, ambitions, leisure and kin (WALK).
I’m going to break these topic areas down for you even further and show you how you can use our four previously mentioned conversation savers and the WALK topics in conjunction with one another.
W - work
Work is the hallmark of small talk. But talking about work doesn’t have to be dull and forgettable. Some people have very interesting jobs and are very passionate about their work. Some people are very proud of how hard they had to work to get to their current station in life and some people are still on their journey to the desired career. A typical small talk conversation surrounding work would look something like this:
- Guy: “What do you do for work?”
- Girl: “I’m a teacher.”
- Guy: “What grade do you teach?”
- Girl: “Grade 2.”
- Guy: “What university did you go to?”
- Girl: “University of Guelph.”
- Guy: “What school do you teach at now?”
- Girl: “John Smith Elementary.”
- Guy: “What subjects do you teach?”
This is not an arousing conversation or a memorable conversation. This kind of verbal interaction is more of an interrogation than setting the foundation to really get to know someone. It’s a surface-level conversation. Most of the time, when people speak about their jobs they are speaking on a surface level. What differentiates this kind of exchange from the kind of conversation that we wish to establish is actually getting into the motivations behind the work.
Instead of a series of questions back and forth about facts, ask questions that require an answer that describes motivations and or feelings towards the job.
Remember when we talked about conversation transformers? And I said that you should ask why. Ask, “why did you get into teaching?” “Who’s the teacher that made the greatest impact on your life and why?” Ask why someone is in the job that they’re doing.
Social psychologist, Arthur Aron, and fellow researchers at the State University of New York at Stony Brook performed an experiment that examined how to accelerate intimacy between two strangers in a series of 36 questions. The 36 questions were divided into three tiers, with each tier requiring a deeper level of self- disclosure.
Some of the questions were as follows:
- What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
- What is your most treasured memory?
- When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
Each one of these questions comes from a different tier in the experiment. What the research study concluded was that mutual vulnerability encouraged closeness. And that is what I want to highlight in this section about talking about work.
It’s difficult to be vulnerable with people, but these questions in this experiment force that, and if you want to not only stop running out of things to say, but to also to get closer to the person with whom you’re speaking, it’s important for both of you to get a little vulnerable. This type of sharing cannot be one-sided. If you’re expecting someone to open up to you, you, too, must try and open up as well. That is how a bond and closeness is formed between strangers. And asking “why?” as a follow-up question is a great way to start the journey to closeness.
A - Ambition
This is one of the most personal topics about which you can talk to someone, that is, about their hopes and dreams for their life. Most people have ambitions or dreams that they are currently pursuing or that they want to pursue in the future. However, not everyone is encouraged to pursue their dreams. Most people find themselves in conventional jobs to finance their lives.
Having dreams and working towards those dreams is something that a great many people are discouraged from pursuing because we first need to be able to be financially independent and the easiest way to do so is to follow a path that has been heavily trodden. So when you ask people about their goals for their life, you open up a different dialogue and you seem supportive of those goals and dreams, which makes you more likable.
This is sometimes one of the hardest topics for people to talk about. Because maybe they haven’t said their ambitions out loud or really admitted them to themselves. Either way, most people have one or some. One word of caution is not to go in with this topic first. This is one of the topics that lead to liking through mutual self-disclosure, which means that you need to have a sufficient conversation that will invite honest answers already underway,.
Instead of asking, “what are your hopes and dreams?” use the information that you’ve gathered from their work, and how they spend their leisure time to make an observation about what they enjoy doing. If someone is an avid traveler, maybe they could want to incorporate travel into their life in some way.
You could say, “has traveling for work always been a dream of yours?”
Make observations and educated guesses about what that person’s ambitions in life might be. You could also ask, “if money wasn’t an issue, what would you spend your life doing?” “or what’s your dream job?”
L - Leisure
Not everyone is a workaholic, so in an attempt to make interesting conversation, the topic of what someone does in their spare time is a great insight into who they are as a person. The question doesn’t have to be groundbreaking, but it could look like, “what do you like to do in your spare time?” “what do you like to do for fun?” “Do you have any hobbies and or interests?”
How you can develop the conversation, even more, is by adding comments. Like we covered earlier, you can use non-sequiturs as a way to keep the conversation flowing naturally, all the while inviting your conversation partner to divulge more information about themselves.
This kind of conversation could look something like this:
- Guy: “You seem like someone who goes on a lot of adventures.”
- Girl: “Oh, do I?”
- Guy: “You look like you don’t get scared of getting a little lost on a hike.”
- Girl: “That’s true. I do enjoy a little adventure.”
- Guy: “So you like to hike and adventure in your spare time, what else do you do
- when you’re not working?”
- Girl: “When I’m not working, I’m usually catching up with my family and friends. My brother also just had a daughter, so I’m a first-time aunt.”
A conversation like this has managed to cut through a surface conversation and has taken us into a more personal and intimate space, a place where we share things of value, and in the process come to establish trust.
This leads us right to our next topic area in the WALK Method and that is kin.
K - Kin
Our final topic area is kin. Kin means one’s family, relations, and friends. This includes all of the people that you hold near and dear to your heart.
This is an excellent topic to dive into with someone when you’re trying to get to know them. One of the best ways to invite someone to share stories about their family and friends is to actually share something first yourself.
If you’re having a conversation with a woman and she makes a funny face or a shocked face, you can draw a parallel by anything that she does or says and try to match it to something in your life and expanding on it by saying, “that reminds me of my friend…”
For example, you and a girl are talking and she makes an inappropriate joke, you could say, “hahaha, that reminds me of my brother Tim. He is notorious in my family for his poorly timed jokes.” You can go into more depth if you’d like to, but that is a good jumping-off point. By sharing first, you invite your girl to share, too. Since you’re the one that is encouraging the conversation and are open to moving it in any direction that she wants, she will then feel comfortable sharing stories and facts about her family and friends with you. When people talk about their family with strangers, it makes them feel closer to those with whom they have shared. So encourage people to share stories about their families by first sharing your stories and encouraging them to draw connections between your lives and theirs.
Before I wrap this up, I want to let you in on one more secret and that has to do with how to make awkward silences work in your favor. A lot of the time, awkward silence can be the kiss of death in a new conversation, but they don’t have to be. They can actually work to your advantage if you don’t get insecure about it. Or make a really awkward random face to try and fill the void. Sitting in silence is a sign of confidence.
If what you are saying is valuable, then sometimes you do not need to fill that silence. The people who try to fill the void with noise often have a sort of social insecurity that prohibits them from just being present in that moment regardless if that moment is a quiet one.
Here’s how to take advantage of awkward silences. When you are conversing with someone, and you ask a question and the person gives you a short response, if you want them to elaborate, try not saying anything in response for a few seconds and see if they fill the gap of silence. Generally speaking, most people feel uncomfortable in social silence, so if you want to seem confident and calm, then try sitting in silence and letting the other person fill the void. Often, your silence will be an invitation for them to expand on the original answer that they gave you.
It’s simple really. We are the topic areas that we know the best. I have a Ph. D in me. And I love talking about myself when I feel as though my listener’s interest is genuine and they are physically and mentally engaged.
Self-disclosure is rewarding.
People love to talk about themselves, so the more that you encourage them to do so, the more that person will like you and the chances of you running out of things to talk about are slim to none.
On average, people spend 60% of their conversation talking about themselves, and why not? As Oscar Wilde once remarked, “Be yourself; everyone else is taken.” Being yourself invites those around you to be themselves, and when you and they are being yourselves, then the chances of interacting on a meaningful level are greatly enhanced. To meet and greet, talk, and WALK, for that is how intimate relationships are formed. Indeed, this is the very essence of the art of becoming a sexual wordsmith!