Making Conversation

Welcome to friendship tips, round two!  If you didn’t read the other posts in the series so far, scroll down to the bottom of this post.

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This week is a bit of a continuation of last week’s post on starting a friendship, because I’m going to talk about making conversation with potential or existing friends.  I feel like the following “tips” have been helpful to me in making friends, but conversations with long time friends just go better when I follow these suggestions too. 

So continuing off of the last tip of “Don’t talk only about yourself”…

 

4. Do ask your friend about herself (and be interested in what she has to say).

A lot of you mentioned this one last week too, and I felt like you were reading my mind! 

Sometimes you are trying to form a friendship with someone who is just really quiet. If you are a bit of a talker (like me), it’s easy to just fill the silence with a lot of jabber about whatever, but that’s not really accomplishing anything. Take a breath and come up with some questions to ask the other person. People like to know you are interested in them as a person, and generally people like talking about themselves.

If you are the quiet person, then come up with some questions you can ask the other person before you go. Then you won’t have to talk as much yourself, and you won’t have those uncomfortable silences if you fill them with a question.

And if you are going to ask a question, really be interested in what the other person answers. People can tell when you aren’t really paying attention, or when you aren’t really interested in what they are saying.


5. Do learn to be a conversationalist.

Being a good conversationalist involves giving and taking. You have to ask questions. But you also have to be able to hold up your end of the conversation. If someone asks you a question, try not to let your answer be just one sentence. They are asking because they are interested in learning more about you – give them some details. Not too much (obviously), but put in a little effort – if you have a story that might be applicable, tell it. If you have an opinion of the subject or an interesting tidbit, share it. For example . . . if someone asks me how my baby is doing, there are a few things I could say:

Option 1 (poor): “He’s doing good.” *Followed by awkward silence as the other person scrambles for something else to ask me.*

Option 2 (slightly better): “He’s doing good. He’s growing so big!” *Still not great, but at least the other person has something to work with – my baby’s growth.*

Option 3 (better): “He’s doing good! We started solids last week and he’s learning to crawl!” *The person has a couple of more interesting directions where they could possibly take the conversation.*

Option 4 (best): “He’s doing good! He’s learning to crawl and last week . . .(insert cute story).” *This is better because stories are good – they fill time and keep the conversation going. As I tell about my how my baby crawled into the kitchen, opened the cupboard door and scattered cereal all over the floor, the conversation has a lot more possibility – the person could comment on my baby’s crawling, start up a conversation about baby-proofing, talk about how the price of groceries is getting outrageous, or bring up some related story of their own. See?*

Note: My child did not actually get into the cupboard and scatter cereal all over the floor.  It’s just something I can imagine him doing.


6. Do put yourself in a group with your friend.

I’m not talking about taking your friend to a group with you (although that’s not a bad idea), I’m talking about using group words. Words like “we” and “us” can work wonders as far as building a bond. If you have similar experiences you can put yourself into a group with your friend using those experiences. For example, as the conversation leads (don’t force it), you could insert these type of phrases “The things we moms/wives do for our families. . .” Or “those of us who have been skydiving know . . .” as you are talking directly to your fellow sky-diver. You get the idea. But please! Do not use these types of phrases in conversations with one of your friends when you are in a group of friends that includes some people who might not belong to the same “group” as you do. The only circumstance where that would be okay is if it’s part of an inside rivalry/joke that includes everyone in the group. Otherwise it’s just rude.


7. Do not leave others out.

Okay, I feel like we are going back to grade school on this one, but it’s probably worth mentioning. If you are in a group setting and you want to have any possibility of developing friendships with some of the people you might not know as well, do not cling so closely to the people you do know that you exclude the ones you don’t. If there are three or four of you getting together for a girl’s day, don’t talk about an event that only two or three of you are invited to. Stories are good, but don’t get so caught up in reminiscing with one friend that you make the other{s} who weren’t there feel left out. Try to include everyone in the conversation, even if you don’t know some of them as well.

 

As I was writing these tips, I kept thinking about the verse in Proverbs that says a man who has friends must show himself friendly (Proverbs 18:34). I think that verse pretty much sums up the last two posts, don’t you? I feel like everything that has been mentioned so far is just encompassed in general friendliness toward our established friends and potential friends. Of course I wanted to elaborate more on specific tips, but I might have saved us all a bit of time by just quoting that verse. I don’t think the Lord minds my taking the time to apply that verse specifically though, which is what I’m hoping the last seven tips have done.

What are some of your conversational tips for friendship situations?  I’d love to hear!

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Don’t forget, if you want to link-up, you can do so anytime between here and the end of July.  Read this post for general guidelines on the link-up and more ideas on what to write about.  I can’t wait to read what all of you come up with!  Be sure to check out the other posts in the link-up too, because everyone had such good things to say last week, and I’m sure there are more good things to be said this week!

Just a reminder – next week is a break week on this series for me, but if you have anything you want to say, just write a post and come back here to link it up!  The liny will still be open even though I’m taking the week off. 

On July 3rd I’ll cover Basic Friendship Maintenance – but I feel like that is something that could be wildly different from person to person, and I’d really be interested in what others have to say on that one.  So be thinking!



Other posts (of mine) in this series:

On Friendships That End

Starting A Friendship




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