Mastering the Art of Online Conversation: Icebreakers, Topics, and Keeping It Flowing



Mastering the Art of Online Conversation: Icebreakers, Topics, and Keeping It Flowing

The start of any conversation can be a daunting one, especially if you are talking to someone new. On online platforms that allow you to chat with a stranger every time, saying it is daunting is a massive understatement. This is particularly true if you are socially anxious or introverted. But striking up a conversation, whether online or not, is a skill. And like all skills, it can be learned and mastered.

Prepare for your conversations

While it is possible for you to feel less socially anxious or shy when you talk with someone online, striking up a conversation might still bring you some anxiety. The thought of how you would maintain the conversation can also be daunting. This is why it might be best for you to prepare before pressing the “chat now” button.

Here are a few ways that you can prepare for your online conversations:

  1. Calm yourself

One of the most notorious conversation killers is nervousness. There have been many cases when people ended a conversation before it could even start. Sometimes, they completely abandoned the thought of talking to someone they really needed or wanted to talk with. This often happens because they were too nervous about where the conversation might go or how it might end. This is why it is wise to calm yourself down before engaging in a conversation with someone.

  1. Start with a greeting

Although the best conversations are the ones that go deeper and leave you with something profound after they are done, small talk, simple greetings, innocuous questions, and the like, should not be skipped or ignored. While these may only last for a few minutes or so, these short surface-level conversations are usually the ones that serve as an entryway for a more profound conversation to take place.

  1. Stay positive

Worrying too much about what to say or providing a deep response to what someone says puts you under more stress than you should be. Remember that your online conversation with someone, unless it is in a corporate setting, is informal. This means that there can be room for error. Listen actively and provide simple observations and responses to things your conversation partner is talking about.

Out with the negativity

While it goes without saying that you should avoid offensive topics and language when you are talking to someone, especially someone new. It might be more difficult to remind yourself to stay away from negative or sensitive topics. Reminding ourselves to avoid certain topics, at least until we know that someone is okay with talking about them, is a vital thing to do. This is important if we want to achieve something from our conversations, like gaining a new friend or getting to know your love interest even more.

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself silently that will help you identify whether or not a topic is negative or sensitive:

  1. “Is this topic appropriate for our conversation?”
  2. “How might they feel about this topic?”
  3. “How would I respond if I was the one who was asked this question?”

Nonverbal communication

In a video chat, what you don’t actively say in your conversations, like interest and emotion, is every bit as important as what you do say. If the person on the other side of the screen sees you being too distracted by everything around you, it can negatively affect their impression of you. Hiding from the camera, or wearing (or not wearing) something inappropriate, can also lead them to avert their gaze. This will put you in a negative light in the mind of the person you got matched with.

When you are in a video chat, you must keep in mind that you are engaging in a conversation that is similar to a face-to-face one. The only key difference is that there is a screen that separates you and your conversation partner. 

With these in mind here are a few ways for you to improve your nonverbal communication:

  1. Have an open posture

Look relaxed and welcoming by keeping your trunk open, avoiding crossing your arms, and creating a stressed or shy face by avoiding the camera or browsing millions of other tabs whilst talking to someone.

  1. Smile

A genuine smile at the appropriate time can be helpful in maintaining a good rapport with your conversation partner. However, make sure that it is truly genuine and not forced or faked since this can come across as repulsive or even creepy.

  1. Dress appropriately

As mentioned, any video chat is similar to having a conversation with someone face to face. If you are meeting someone new it would be weird for you if they didn’t wear a shirt or wore something extremely bizarre and inappropriate. This is still true when you want to engage in an online video conversation, but it is easier to pull off and is much more comfortable since you only need to look appropriate from the torso up.

Take the time to listen

someone could ever have is to feel ignored or not listened to. When you meet someone new, this feeling is the one that you must avoid at all costs. Otherwise, it will cost you your conversation with them.

Being an active listener means that you do not just listen but truly try to make sense of what someone is saying to you. This will help you make responses that are relevant to what that person has told you. It is also a nonverbal way of saying that what the person says means something to you. It shows that you are interested and involved in the conversation that you are having.

If you struggle with actively listening to someone, here are some ways you can try to improve your listening skills:

  1. Keep an open mind

Especially when meeting someone new, an open and unbiased mind can help you actively listen to someone. Cognitive Dissonance happens when a person is talking opposite from what you believe in. But restraining yourself to immediately thinking of rebuttals is a good way of training yourself to truly care about what the person is saying and why they could be saying such things.

  1. Try to understand

This does not mean that you should understand what someone is saying by yourself. It will be unavoidable that the person you are talking to will say things that are cryptic to you or you space out for a moment. When this happens, do not shy away from asking the person what they meant or previously said. Again, this is also another way of saying that you care about the conversation that you currently have.

  1. Keep it balanced

While listening, it can be helpful to provide a few insights here and there. This ensures the conversation does not derail and enhances it by offering your partner new ideas as they chat. However, remember to keep your responses to a minimum until it is your turn to talk. Nobody likes being interrupted while they speak.

Mastering the art of online conversations is also a good way to master conversations offline. Online conversations offer a similar set of rules, tactics, and feel as face-to-face ones. However, they are generally safer and come with less awkwardness compared to offline conversations.

That being said, online conversations carry barriers and benefits similar to offline ones. This is why mastering online conversation is important, even if you’re not doing it to train your offline conversational skills.

In this blog, we’ve tackled various tactics and reminders that will help you in all your conversations. As a parting note, we’d like to emphasize that the best way for you to train yourself is to come out of your comfort zone and apply what you’ve learned to the real world.








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