Small talk is simple and easy for a lot of people. Once you pass the small talk, though, many of us need a bit of help with conversing, especially with strangers. Communicating effectively is one of those things that people spend thousands of dollars on classes so they can get better. The main points of every class are all centered around the same basic concepts and can be learned fairly quickly, then you just need to practice to perfect your techniques!

When you start chatting on your call, try to ask about your partner about themselves and listen to their responses. It’s easy to talk about ourselves. We’re experts on our own interests and hobbies, and it can be easy to get carried away while talking about our own hobbies and interests. Try to make sure you take turns. If your partner asks a question about what you like to do, then give your answer, then try asking them the same question and listen to their response. Their answer may give you more material to talk about, so you have less awkward silences throughout the call.

Ask open-ended questions. An open-ended question is anything that requires more than one or two words to respond to. This means instead of asking, “Do you have any hobbies?” try asking, instead, “What are some of your favorite hobbies when you’re not working?”. The open-ended question will require a lengthier response, which will give you more material to work with and respond to, making the conversation flow easier, overall.

Respond to what they’re saying, not to what you think they’re going to say. When you do this, you will likely need to pause for a moment while you process what they said, and then think of a response. Human nature means we try to respond quickly, meaning we typically listen to about half of someone’s response, guess what they’re going to say after, then formulate a response based off what we think their response will be. If you fight this impulse and fully listen to their response before forming your own response, you’ll be able to have a more meaningful conversation, which your partner will appreciate.

Don’t be afraid to communicate your needs! Your partner will appreciate it when you tell them exactly what you want and need. If you need or want them to be kind and sweet, or if you need them to dominate you, let them know! They will appreciate the cue and knowing exactly who you need them to be!

Be yourself! You’re more interesting than you think you are! Practice communicating who you are and what you enjoy, and it will show! The conversation with flow better, you will enjoy conversing more, and it will become second nature in no time! You’re a unique and interesting person, and your partner can’t wait to see who you are!