If you’re anything like me, there’s something deep down inside you that says you suck at conversations.
True, I’m one of those people who finds it relatively easy to talk to strangers, but that only works at a surface level. I can chat to someone about the weather, it’s just that when it comes to going any deeper, I struggle.
The good news is that there are little hacks that we can use to improve our conversation skills, and if we use them correctly, it doesn’t have to feel forced or unnatural. Think of it as being like little cheat codes that you can drop into your conversations.
And so with all of that in mind, let’s take a look at 20 phrases that show you’re a better conversationalist than you think.
1) “Let’s agree to disagree.”
This first phrase is the most important of them all. It’s impossible for us to always agree with everyone, and so there are bound to be times when we’re talking with someone and we just can’t seem to find common ground.
When that’s the case, the best option is usually to agree to disagree and to move on.
2) “Tell me more!”
The simple act of asking someone to tell us more shows that we’re engaged with the conversation and that we’re interested in what they have to say.
These three words can be the difference between a conversation taking on a life of its own and dwindling into silence.
3) “Thank you for sharing that.”
If you’re talking to someone about something that’s difficult for them to speak about, it’s courteous for you to thank them for opening up and sharing their experience.
In fact, it’s a good idea to thank people for sharing their thoughts either way, even if you’re just talking about your favourite sports teams.
4) “Good point!”
These two little words are super powerful because they let us acknowledge that the person we’re speaking to has said something insightful. In fact, they may have even changed our mind about something.
I like to couple this with the last phrase whenever someone shares something that changes my mind.
5) “I never thought of it like that.”
Going hand-in-hand with the last two phrases, this is a great one to use when you want to acknowledge that the person you’re speaking to has changed your mind about something or helped you to see things in a new light.
6) “What do you think?”
When we ask people what they think, we give them an open-ended question that they can answer in any way they want.
We’re showing people that we genuinely want to hear their thoughts and providing them with a forum to share their honest opinions.
7) “How do you feel about…”
The next step up from asking what people think about something is to ask them how they feel about it. The two are often related, but they don’t always have to match up.
For example, people might think that it’s too difficult to sort their recycling but feel as though they need to do more to help the planet.
8) “I understand how you feel.”
Speaking of feelings, if you can put yourself in someone else’s shoes and demonstrate that you understand how they feel, they’re automatically going to take a shine to you. Just be sure that if you tell someone that you understand how they feel, you can back that up.
Don’t just say it for the sake of saying it.
9) “Oh, I love your…”
We all like to be complimented, and using this phrase to compliment someone’s shoes, coat, bag or phone case can be a great way to break the ice with people and to start a conversation.
Try to make sure that it’s genuine though, because most people can spot fake compliments a mile away.
10) “That reminds me of when…”
Using this line helps you to tie what someone is talking about back to your own experience.
If you do it too often, you can accidentally take over the conversation, but I’ve found that it’s a great way to show people that you understand what they’re talking about by relating it back to something similar from your own life.
11) “Is there anything you want to talk about?”
From time to time, you might find yourself talking to someone who wants to say something but is unable to come straight out with it.
When that’s the case, I’ve found that the best thing to do is to ask them if there’s anything that they want to cover. They’ll usually open right up.
12) “What can I do to help?”
Like the last point, sometimes people need our help but they just don’t know how to ask for it. If we go out of our way to offer aid with a phrase like this, we give them the opportunity they need to ask for help.
And they don’t have to feel bad about it!
13) “What’s a lesson you learned the hard way?”
The purpose of asking this question is to learn valuable lessons from other people.
I love asking this question of people who are going through something similar to what I’m going through, because I can learn from their mistakes instead of having to make my own.
14) “I really appreciate…”
When people tell me the lessons that they learned the hard way, I normally follow that up by saying that I really appreciate them opening up to me.
You can think of this phrase as being a different way of saying “thank you for sharing that”, and it works best when you can point to something specific that they did or said.
15) “After you!”
Saying “after you” and allowing the other person to go first is a great way to be polite and to show that you’re willing to accommodate them.
This can be used whether you’re queuing up for something (such as food at a buffet) or whether you’re in conversation and you’re inviting them to speak before you do.
16) “How have you been?”
This one only makes sense if you’re meeting up with someone that you haven’t seen for a while, but it’s a great way to re-establish a connection and to get to know what you’ve missed out on since the last time you saw each other.
You can think of it as a “how are you”, but on steroids.
17) “What are you up to later?”
This phrase is a useful one to throw out there when you’re chatting to someone and you want to keep the conversation going.
It’s great for when you’re at a conference and you want to keep chatting to someone over a drink or two after the keynote speaker. Just be careful that it doesn’t come across as though you’re hitting on them!
18) “I’m not sure, but I’ll find out!”
Nothing annoys people more than acting as though you know everything there is to know about something, and I’m speaking here from experience.
If you don’t know something, admit it and promise that you’ll find out after the conversation is over.
19) “Let’s stay in touch.”
Most people don’t like networking, but using this line can help you out because it gives people the message that you’d like to keep them as a contact without putting too much pressure on them.
If they don’t want to keep up with you, they don’t have to.
Sometimes, the best thing is to say nothing.
And I’ll leave you with that.