7 Simple Ways to Revive and Sustain Better Conversations

Here’s what’s killing your connection and how you can save it.

Aamna I. Rizvi
Hello, Love
6 min readNov 6, 2020


source: wayhomestudio

In freshman year of college, I was best friends with a guy whose superpower was that he could make friends with anyone.

This depended heavily on his capacity to start conversations and sustain the other party’s interest, no matter who they were. He wasn’t the smartest kid in the room, didn’t come with designer label clothes, crazy talents, or threw money around for it — he was just the simplest dude who seemed confident in himself.

Being able to communicate effectively with others is an invaluable life-skill. So I spent a lot of parties shadowing him, eager to learn the art of conversation that seemed to come so naturally to him.

I quickly realized anyone could achieve his success rate in interactions if they only pay attention to 7 simple things.

Here’s what I learned.

1. Be curious

Often people feel bad when they are curious about things because it means they are seeking information that wasn’t already provided to them.

But having high curiosity means you like learning stuff — and people who enjoy learning usually already know more than those around them. So it’s kind of like intelligence-signaling.

It’s also a subtle compliment when people realize something about them piqued your interest. It builds rapport because you approach people already interested in what they have to say. This also makes you a more proactive person in the eyes of others.

The act of taking initiative to ask questions and resolve dilemmas is also one of the top leadership qualities. It inspires people and also puts them at ease by directing their brainpower towards answering the question rather than being self-conscious.

Nurturing curiosity means that over time, you’ll already have tons of answers to questions other people might be curious about. It makes you an interesting person to talk to. With practice, ideas will come to you more quickly and you can appreciate the nuances in a situation solely because you can express your eagerness about figuring stuff out.

2. Quit the automated responses

“What’s up?”


When has that conversation ever gone anywhere? Yet we keep using responses like this one as a default and let other people’s interest in us fall flat on its face.

The first step in sustaining someone’s interest after we have already got their attention is by being mindful of our responses. There’s always something to say that doesn’t make it sound like people are going straight to voicemail when they talk to us.

Quitting automated responses is one thing, but having something to say that is compelling and authentic to how you feel is another.

Here are a few ways you can ensure a more interesting response when asked what you’re up to next time:

  • Have presence of mind when you’re doing something.
  • Believe in the importance of your task and don’t brush it off as nothing.
  • Believe in your unique perspective of situations and things, because it always counts for someone.
  • Answer as though everyone who asks you a question genuinely wants to know what you have to say.

3. Ask open-ended questions

How many times have you said something like “Did you have a good day?” to someone who’s sulking only to hear an even more dejected “Not really.”

Asking leading questions sets up an expectation that people try to match with their own response. Asking questions that are too detailed means you have already decided the route of the conversation. It will leave the most agreeable people flooded with negative feelings as they struggle and try to take the conversation in the opposite direction.

It might dampen the mood from the get go.

Open-ended questions help people explore their own mental space on a topic. It gives them more liberty because there are no pre-set expectations about the response. It gets across that you are interested in hearing them out more than you are in in being heard. It shows you have patience and lets the other person ease into the conversation.

Try to swap out:

  • “Did you have a pleasant experience?” with “How was your experience?”
  • “That must’ve ruined your day?” with “How did you feel after that?”
  • “Do you like your food?” with “How is your food?”

Another good tip is to swap out expressing opinions with open-ended questions to hold space for others in conversations. This also creates emotional security when the matter is more immediate to another person than it is to you.

4. Be comfortable with the silences

Appreciating the gaps in the conversation when there’s nothing to say is almost as important as appreciating the silences in music.

Being comfortable with silence makes your words worth more because it means you don’t use them to fill the silences unless you are genuinely trying to convey something useful. The other person will also admire your confidence when you sit in silence comfortably.

It can do two things for the other party:

  • It will put them at ease because you’re not contending to see who speaks the most in the conversation.
  • Your absent sense of urgency will require them to compensate for it on their own and set a pace they enjoy.

5. Be present and stop juggling multiple things at once

It’s not cute to wave at 5 people while someone is trying to have a conversation with you outside a rom-com movie.

Multitasking with physical distractions such as being stuck in traffic, cooking or grocery shopping is one thing, but people can tell even when you’re not mentally there while they’re talking. It sends a message that whatever they have to say does not deserve your undivided attention.

That you’re waiting for the moment to be over or only indulging in conversation because it's convenient for you. It might be fine if the other person is busy too but if not, they’re trying to give you a chunk of their consciousness and it's not fair on them.

If with time they seem more and more reluctant when you try to engage in a conversation, they might have picked up on how you’re not really interested or respectful. This might be the first thing you want to quit if you want to have better conversations.

6. Save the monologue for your book

You’re not in a nine act theatre play and nobody wants to deliberate over your existential monologue every date night.

Having conversations needs to be about being equally open to hearing the other side out. Whipping up a “word salad” when we like someone might feel like an impressive thing, but it’s a sign to others that we like hearing ourselves talk. That their company adds no value to the conversation for you because all you need is an audience for your one-man-show.

It’s bad reading of people if you constantly find yourself going on about your dilemmas without letting other people hold space now and then. It suggests that you’re inconsiderate. Do it enough times and people think it’s about you more than what you’re actually talking about.

Besides, there’s therapy for that. It’s not wrong if done in moderation. But if all you need from people is an audience, then you could always just start your own blog or a YouTube channel.

7. Make an attempt to understand

People reveal emotionally sacred parts of themselves and you get to be witness to it when they talk. So pause and reflect when the other person talks.

Conversations that stick with us always have a deep and reassuring sense of understanding. It’s something about people who either get us in the first instance or with their interest, probe till the meaning behind our words becomes clear to them.

It builds an instant connection.

Make genuine effort to follow the line of thought that they are trying to communicate. It’s a great way of adding value to conversations because it can reciprocate the importance of words. A few words can be plentiful if used resourcefully and met with understanding.

The way to achieve this is through the magic skill that conquers everything: listening. Forget the questions that come to your mind when the other person talks — the answers you want are for yourself. Opening your mind up to what the person is saying in real time is for them. Just listening to others allows them a judgement free zone to admit and they might be honest about far more.

Listening to people when they talk helps them realize parts of their conscious and subconscious mind that they wouldn’t have figured out without conversations.

The key to having great conversations lies in building patience to be a skilled listener. So instead of focusing on all the advice you’ve ever gotten about sustaining conversations — just listen when the other person is talking.

And you would have a far greater conversation than if you focused so hard on nodding and looking into another person’s eyes that you eventually just zoned out from the conversation.



Aamna I. Rizvi
Hello, Love

Student physician. Storyteller. Artist. Unraveling the inner workings of personal development,relationships & wellness. Join me in my pursuit for answers!