A Terrible Mistake People Make When Starting a Conversation That Short-Circuits the Connection

September 19th, 2023

When someone attempts to engage you in conversation by asking you how you’re doing, how do you usually respond?

Do you answer them by simply saying “I’m good” and leave it at that?

If so, have you ever thought about what this does to the conversation?

Doesn’t it basically shut the communication down and bring the interaction to a stand-still?

I mean, if you offer the person nothing to go on – no material that they can capitalize and follow-up on – isn’t it likely the conversation will fizzle out before it even gets started?

So what can be done about that?

If you’re an observing sort of person, haven’t you noticed that when most people are asked the question “How are you?” or “How’s it going?” they react automatically and unconsciously by just saying “Good”?

This is all fine if you don’t want to engage the other person in a longer conversation, but what if you want to connect with them and prolong the encounter?

Isn’t a different approach necessary – an approach that encourages the conversation to continue?

If you want to get the conversation started and keep it going, wouldn’t it be a good idea to offer the other person some information or cues that can be turned into conversation topics instead of just saying “Good” when someone asks how you’re doing?

A cue is simply a small mention or glimpse into a person’s life or the seed of a topic that can be expanded into a central thread of the conversation.

Let me ask you this...

Do interesting things happen to you during your day?

Or are you ever excited about or invested in the events that are transpiring in your life?

Why not bring those things up in conversation when someone asks you how you’re doing?

Why not mention what’s going on in your life or day?

Wouldn’t that give the person you’re talking to an opportunity to not only get to know you better and what’s important or interesting in your life, but also serve to get the conversation off the ground?

Wouldn’t it give you something to talk about?

A great thing to start practicing is to continually keep a mental record of the events that are happening in your life or day in the forefront of your mind. That way you’re prepared for when someone opens a conversation with you by asking how you’re doing.

Then you have material to get the conversation going and keep it going.

If something interesting or unusual happens in your day, or if a positive event takes place, bank that in your memory and then use it when people ask how you’re doing.

Now, once you introduce these events into the interaction, one of two things will happen:

First, if the person who asked you how you’re doing is a good conversationalist, they’ll respond by asking you more questions about the topic you bring up.

And second, if the person doesn’t respond to what you introduce, turn the conversation onto them by asking them a question about whatever you brought up.

In the first case, your conversation has gotten off the ground and is in a good place. So there’s not much more to be said about it here.

However, how do you go about making practical use of the second case?

Let’s use an example...

If someone asks you how you’re doing, you might say:

“I’m great! I had a job interview last week, which went well. Then the company gave me an exam yesterday, which I passed.”

Now, if the person you’re talking to doesn’t follow-up by taking an interest in you and asking you questions about the interview or the exam, simply turn the conversation onto them, using the topics you already introduced. This will make the conversation flow naturally.

You might ask:

“Do you remember what was your last interview was like?”

They’ll start to answer, and you’re now in a conversation on the topic of interviews.

If you want to improve your conversation skills and your ability to connect with people, I encourage you to keep a mental record of the things that are happening in your life and throughout your day, then have them ready to introduce into your conversations whenever someone asks how you’re doing.

I recommend you keep your answer short – 10 seconds, max. You don’t want to ramble on, outwear your welcome and bore the person. The goal here is to simply give the recipient cues they can use to keep the conversation going.

And again, if they don’t take a further interest in what you have to offer the conversation, use the topic you introduced as a springboard to turn the focus of the conversation onto them instead.

In short, when someone asks you how it’s going:

Introduce topics or events that are relevant to your life or day, and keep it short.

If they listen and follow-up with questions, your conversation has achieved lift-off.

But if they don’t respond with any questions, turn the conversation onto them by asking them a personal question about the topic or event you already brought up.

If you practice this conversation strategy, you will probably find that your conversations always get off the ground and continue to flow almost every time.


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