Emerald Chat makes it easier for everyone to meet new friends online because the platform allows you to connect to thousands of people within moments! But when it comes to making friends online, it’s a whole different story, and most of us are stuck with awkward close-ended conversations that end in more awkwardness!
If you’ve been experiencing these conversations, fret not! We’re here to help you!
Before we start, think of the conversation you are in as a pinwheel. At first, it’s stagnant, but as more and more wind is blown into it, the faster and faster it spins. Similarly, the questions and answers both you and the person you are talking to are like wind to the conversation, and with every exchange, your conversation spirals more and more. So do not be afraid of a slow start to the conversation it just means that the pinwheel needs more wind!
Tip 1: Recognize the power of small talk!
To have deep and meaningful conversations, it is generally understood that people must not engage in small talk. This is because small talk does not invoke substantial questions and answers, and most small talks end way too quickly, they are “not the result of intellectual reflection, nor do they necessarily arouse reflection in the listener,” as pioneering anthropologist Dr. Bronislaw Malinowski says in his essay. However, the trait that puts small talk in a negative light is also the same trait why it is a necessary tool in any conversation, Dr. Malinowski says that for any reflective and intellectual conversation to happen, the conversation just has to start and that even though considered to be ‘aimless gossiping’ the point of small talk is to build ‘communion’ with the other person, and since it’s also easier to respond to “do you like ice-creams” than “what’s your opinion on this year’s national elections?”. Once the connection is established, small talk has fulfilled its purpose, and you and your conversation partner must move on to a deeper level of conversing.
Tip 2: Ask better questions
Now that the connection has been established, it’s time to solidify its foundations. If you’ve noticed, the first tip about small talk encourages you to engage in close-ended questions, which can be answered by a ‘yes’ or ‘no’, or one that can answer questions like ‘Where do you live?’ or ‘how old are you?’, while these questions are necessary they are not strong foundations for a meaningful conversation, to reinforce them you must ask ‘open-ended questions’. Celeste Headlee, in her TedTalk in 2015 about how to have a good conversation, says that open-ended questions urge the person you’re talking with to create responses that are deep and reflective, while close-ended questions only call for simple, pre-made, and unreflective answers. These open-ended questions usually begin with who, what, when, where, why, or how, and they usually ask the other person about the emotions, thoughts, and opinions on a certain situation. To help you, here are a few examples:
“How did it feel?”
“What was it like?”
“Why was that your decision?”
(And, yes.) “What’s your opinion on this year’s national elections?”
Now that the pinwheel has started to spin, here are some tips on how you can maintain/improve the gust of questions, answers, and discussions that both of you throw at each other.
Tip 3: Keep it clean
Nothing is worse than for a good conversation to be ruined by inappropriate questions, answers, or words. It’s as if seeing the food you’ve ordered plummet to the floor (ouch!). This is why moderation on both ends of the conversation is vital because it keeps the conversation from plummeting into the ground. We understand that you may want to talk about serious and quite inappropriate topics with the person that you’ve met, and you can, but it is highly recommended that you save these topics when you move from simple acquaintances to close friends or something more.
Tip 4: You always have something to learn
A key thought that you must remember when conversing is that: ‘you always have something to learn from the other person’. No one is an expert at everything, but everyone is proficient at something, and having the attitude of ‘wanting to learn’ about the other person helps you to be present in the conversation. This also helps both of you to loosen up with each other and just converse with one another without the barrier of awkwardness or prejudice.
Tip 5: Listen with the intent to understand.
The final and most crucial and enjoyable part of any conversation is listening. Active listening (or understanding what a chat says) tells the other person that you want to talk to them. Going back to Celeste Headlee’s TedTalk, listening with an open mind is the single most important tool in any conversation. She also says, along with any others, that listening is the single most important skill that you can master. This is because listening with the intent to understand the other person makes the questions and answers you say to one another closely related and substantiated. Without listening, you are just two people shouting barely related sentences to one another. This is why on your next conversation in Emerald Chat, always listen (or read) with the intent to understand.
In sum, think of conversations as a pinwheel that needs wind to spin, it takes just the right gust of questions and responses to get it started and just the right stream of attitudes and mindset to keep it going or improve it. But of course, these tips are not ‘the one sure way’ of having a great conversation with someone, but we do hope that they help you break the ice in your conversations so that you can start making more friends online.