If conversation lulls cause you anxiety, don't fret. Here are five engaging questions to keep your conversation moving.
There are natural conversationalists, and there are those who look like a deer in the headlights when talking one-on-one or in a group. Whether you are comfortable getting everyone talking or prefer listening to others' stories, these questions will help you engage with others in a more natural way.
Meaningful conversations go both ways. No one likes to listen to someone go on and on about themselves. And rarely do people enjoy all of the attention and the pressure of filling conversation lulls.
Prepare yourself and your heart for intentionally sharing of your self and listening to others as they share. Consider asking these questions to better engage with a friend, new co-worker, first date, or that special someone.
What brings you joy?
Keep the conversation light and enjoyable with this question. It naturally flows much deeper than a typical, "What do you enjoy doing?" Joy is a wonderful and complex emotion that we all need to feel and observe. The answers you receive are just as wide and numerous as the unique people living in the world.
Enjoy listening to their passions, what they observe, what they think is important in life.
How do you spend your waking hours?
This question is delightfully open-ended. When the people you're talking to are awake, what fills their time? They can share about work, family, hobbies, causes, and wellness routines. Pay attention to the things they list. You might get a glimpse into what they feel is important in life.
Listen for what they say (and what they don't say). Be prepared with follow-up questions. If they don't mention any family, consider asking if they have family living near them. Or if they don't mention a job, you can ask if they work outside the home.
What's the latest on _______?
This question requires just a bit of homework. Without being seen as a social media stalker, pay attention to your friend's social media feeds. Did he just receive a promotion? Did she just get a new puppy? Did he share a hilarious photo of the family?
While you don't want to come across as presenting a list of life-specific questions for them, asking one intentional question shows them that you see them and you care.
How do you relax (or relieve stress)?
Stress is a part of life. It's no fun and really not productive to spend the entire conversation sharing about stress and challenges; you can engage in a whole new way when you share stress relievers.
Do they enjoy a good bubble bath, a cup of tea and a good book, or a hard workout in order to say "good-bye" to the stress and anxiety of the day? They may choose to share with you the cause of their stress. Listen well and be empathetic. If appropriate, move the conversation to how they relieve stress.
What is one thing, besides your phone, that you couldn't live without?
Ahhh, another open-ended question! This one is creative because their answer can literally be anything. An ice cream scoop? The latest New York Times bestseller? A beloved pet? A sound machine while they sleep?
Again, you'll discover what's important to them. You'll find out about a new gadget that you'll need to purchase for yourself. You'll happen upon a common ground where the conversation can continue to flow.
Be prepared to share your own answers to these questions. Just as you're enjoying getting to know them better, give them the opportunity to get to know you better. While it might feel vulnerable, take the risk and share more deeply about yourself.
What do you think about conversation lulls? Do you have a question we can add to this list? Share in the comments below.