A conversation between two people can be like a tennis game. The back-and-forth conversation is like two players hitting the ball over the net. Someone serves up a new idea from time to time.
How’s your conversational tennis? Do you have problems when it’s your turn to serve the ball? An easy way to serve up the next idea is to ask questions to keep a conversation going.
Say you are starting a new match with someone you’ve never played with before. You might want to start with a compliment. Remember to make it genuine.
After the compliment, you can ask a question:
1. Your jacket (blouse, tie, shirt) looks great on you. Did you buy it at JacketsRUs? This is a great serve! Now, the ball will be in their side of the court and hopefully a nice rally will ensue.
Supposing, you’ve decided to try out the new tennis courts. You spot someone who looks like they belong.
Try serving up a conversation starter that shows that you’ve noticed how well they fit in:
2. What tips would you give someone who’s never played on these courts before?
Let’s say, it’s already been established that you both like to play tennis. In other words, you sense that you have some things in common. You’ve seen this other player around and now you just want to know more about them.
You can now ask more specific questions to keep the conversation going, like:
3. What do you like most about tennis?
People love to talk about themselves. Showing an interest in others is a sure way to get a good rally going, especially if it’s done in a sincere, positive way:
4. Do you have a favorite tennis ball brand?
While you begin conversing over the different brands of tennis balls and maybe even the color choices, you’ll soon realize that you’ve got another good rally going.
Asking questions to keep a conversation going is a great way to show that you are genuinely interested in what the other person has to say.
Comparing conversation to a tennis game may seem silly, but think of two friends playing a game of tennis together, just for fun. They wouldn’t slam Wimbledon-type serves at each other and try to catch each other off guard with wicked backhand shots.
Instead, they’d be gently lobbing the ball right to each other, so they could enjoy a good fun rally.
So, next time you feel a bit nervous at the thought of starting up a conversation with a new person, think of it as a game. After all, games are made for fun!
Peter Murphy is a peak performance expert. He recently produced a very popular free report: 10 Simple Steps to Developing Communication Confidence. Apply now because it is available only at: conversation starters