How to have good conversations


How to have good conversations

“The art of conversation is the art of hearing as well as of being heard.”  William Hazlitt

Family communicating happily

The conversation should be fun.

One of the very best conversation rules is never to say anything which any of the company wishes had been left unsaid. –  Jonathan Swift

The conversation is supposed to be an opportunity to meet someone new, bond over shared interests – feel the spark of connection. It’s supposed to feel natural and flowing, where the right thing to say comes effortlessly. It’s supposed to be anxiety-free, where you can focus on connecting with the other person instead of worrying about how you’re coming across. Unfortunately, for many people, the conversation isn’t much fun.

Maybe that includes you. Maybe you feel anxious and stressed during conversations that others seem to enjoy. Maybe your conversations tend to sputter out prematurely, and you’re not sure how to keep them going. Or maybe you want more meaningful connections with others, but you’re not sure how to take your conversations beyond small talk and into that deeper level.

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The secret of conversation flow

Never talk for half a minute without pausing and giving others a chance to join in. – Sydney Smith

Sometimes, conversation flow seems to happen automatically. You and your conversation partner hit it off, and the conversation feels really smooth and comfortable. That’s great when it happens, but what do you do when conversations don’t flow?

Here is a link to guide you on how to get a conversation flowing:

The Secret Of Conversation Flow


An invitation is when you say something that explicitly lets your partner know it is their turn to speak.
Inspiration is when you say something that makes your partner want to speak unbiddenly.

Invitation: How to ask good questions

One of your primary tools for helping conversations flow is the idea of invitation. An invitation is something you say that:

  • communicates very clearly that it is now your partner’s turn to talk
  • gives a strong suggestion for what your partner should talk about.

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Inspiration – the heartbeat of good conversation.

When conversations flow smoothly, people feel comfortable sharing even without an invitation. They’ll chime in whenever they have something they want to share and feel encouraged to share it.

This means that to create conversational flow, you should:

  • Make your partner comfortable.
  • Inspire your partner to want to share

More guidance:

Inspiration in Practice

It’s simple and easy to apply inspiration in your conversations. When you want to inspire your partner, be deliberate to share something that might inspire them to share their curiosity, thoughts, or story. To inspire your partner to share their curiosity, share something they want to know more about. Use your knowledge of the other person to guide you as you craft great inspirations. When you share your thoughts, it encourages your partner to share their own. Thoughts can be your opinions, your speculations, or a topic that you’re curious about.

More guidance:

Invitation And Inspiration In Harmony

Great conversations need both invitation and inspiration. A conversation-based entirely around invitations can sound like an interview: nothing but questions and answers. And conversations based entirely around inspirations are hard to do because what happens when you attempt to inspire your partner and don’t respond?

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Ideas on how to engage in conversation:

• Make a remark about the venue or occasion, for example: “I love this song”; “The view is great”; “Wow, the food is delicious”.
• Give a compliment: “You look as if you know what you are doing”. “I love your shoes”.
• Ask open-ended questions that begin with what, where, when, why, or how.
• Note anything that you might have in common with the person, for example, “ I noticed we drive the same car”. “ I see you also like rugby”.
• Never talk about politics or religion, which might cause a disagreement.
• Listen as well as you can do what others say.
If it does not work out, don’t dwell on it. Move on. Practice again on someone else.


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