It happens to all of us, you’re in front of someone and you make some small talk and then…you have nothing to say.
You may even gotten to the point where you avoid people because you already know the conversations won’t go anywhere. Not on your watch.
Just because you don’t have much to say, it does not mean you are not interesting. There is a whole world going on behind there, you just may not be in the habit of sharing it. You have been conditioned to believe you are not good with people and with conversations. That you can’t keep conversations going. You have learned to be uncomfortable and to avoid talking.
When I was a kid, I had great one on one friendships but as soon as school started, they went AWOL. I’d get on the bus and mention dumb things like what I ate for breakfast or what I dreamed about the night before. Let’s face it. I was a dork and my friends pulled away from me when it was time to be cool. Having nothing to say makes you feel a little lost and that’s horrible for your confidence so let’s do something about it. Being an interesting person and having interesting things to say is something that we all need to work on. You can feel calm and confident with people and have intriguing things to say. Before we do that, why do some of us struggle?
Common Causes of Having Nothing to Say
Being too self-conscious. You have gotten stuck in your head ‘trying’ to act normal. It’s unnatural. You can’t try to be yourself, you already are. You are dynamic with many sides. The doctor said I had an overactive imagination when I was brought in for fainting. Maybe you are actually thinking of so many things but it’s hard to pick one and articulate it in a tangible way.
Being nervous and struggling to express yourself. You being nervous because of past failures may be giving you a great deal of anxiety so you are nervous, of course. I struggled with mumbling and it took many years to speak clearly to where I was comfortable with my voice. I find it ironic that I ended up getting a broadcasting degree. It takes practice to overcome these things and then build your competence.
Worrying about saying the wrong things and people pleasing. You might be overthinking what do you need to do to fit in and be accepted. You’ve become guarded and you hold back. If you are pretending, you are not connected to or sharing the best parts of yourself, you aren’t expressing true opinions. Not everyone will love you. It isn’t possible unless you are trying to accommodate to everyone, which is not interesting and it is just surface you.
Trying to think for everyone. Be into the conversation itself versus trying to think for yourself and the person you are speaking with.
Not practicing what you do have control over and letting go what you don’t have control over. The more you have avoided people, conversations, and the spotlight over the years, the less practice you have had. So the sooner you start, the better and faster you can build those muscles. The more you realize there are things you can do to influence your conversation skills, the more confidence you will gain. You will start to see you have control over more than you realize and the more you can let go of those things you cannot control. Don’t worry so much about things you don’t have control over like blushing or how others might think of you.
It’s important to build up a vision of what you want and to know when shyness is no longer holding you back and to work towards that. For now, find ways to be less self focused and more outward focused. Since we recently referenced starting conversations, now we need to keep them going!
How can we never run out of things to say?
It’s an endless world with endless things to talk about. There is no magic formula of course but by working on a few tools, you can master them and always be able to return to them and never run out of great topics.
Conversations are not science, they are art and it’s one of those soft skills…yay joy (I’m working on the sarcasm).
Fortunately, it’s not about just pulling from a list of interesting things. Of course, I love lists, but by tuning in to the real you will know what is interesting to you and you have to start there. You can’t sound interesting unless you think it’s interesting. You aren’t trying to be someone else. You are trying to be comfortable being yourself and learning how to express yourself more. This will help you become surrounding by people who like you for who you are. Stop being hard on yourself and realize the positives you have to offer and be able to know and love the best version of yourself. I spent the better part of my life trying to be someone I’m not and I have zero interest in doing that. The sooner you learn this lesson, the closer to happy you can become.
So, no list, and I have to be myself? It’s ok, we have some tools.
Here are some great ideas to get you going. I was listening to this video from relationship expert Matthew Hussey and wanted to share these great points you can incorporate into your life. I also got to meet him at Lewis Howe’s Summit of Greatness last year!
1. Have non-linear conversations
You know those super exciting conversations. “How are you?” “Good, how are you?” “Good, how was your weekend?” “Good, how about yours?” “Nice, well have a good day.” So generic, unmemorable, unoriginal. You have to have these but not only these types of conversations. No wonder we never want to talk to anyone. We want to create conversations more like a game of basketball that goes forwards, backwards, and side to side. It’s less constrictive. So be open to having multidirectional conversations. Like a game of donkey kong (yes, I’m an old dork). Great conversation doesn’t care about structure, it’s about what is interesting.
2. Answer the question you wish you were asked
If you lump everything together when you talk, it becomes too generic. Do a favor for yourself and the person you are speaking with and carve out a more interesting conversation. Breaking the rules might seem like a dream when you are struggling just to fit in, but the more you practice and expand your comfort zone, the more positive reinforcement you’ll get that it’s working. Edit as you go and pick out the pieces of your life or stories in your day, trip, event, etc. that are worthwhile and interesting. In the past I would record a whole firework show and not once look away to be in the moment. Do you think I’ve ever watched any of those? No, super boring. Take in your experiences in the moment. Don’t feel the need to hoard and save it to feel another day. Then, have something interesting to say about those small moments you enjoy. Don’t over think it, just start becoming more aware, paying attention, and making a note to yourself.
3. Stimulate your own mind
Keep looking outside yourself for new information. Read interesting books, listen to interesting podcasts, do new and interesting things, and build an awareness and pay attention to what you are already doing. I already know there is something more interesting there and you aren’t giving yourself enough credit.
I see all of these as being about creating a flow, a cycle in your life. Taking things in and putting them out there. Some from you, some from others and then giving them back.
In Deepak Chopra’s book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Successhe talks about creating a flow of the things we want. If we stop the circulation of what we want, we hoard it, stop the circulation and strangle the life force. Relationships are a give and take. Conversations are a give and take. Its the flow of energy. He says to “make a decision to give wherever you go, to whomever you see. As long as you’re giving, you will be receiving. The more you give, the more confidence you will gain in the miraculous effects of this law. And as you receive more, your ability to give more will also increase.” So stimulate your own mind, carve out an interesting conversation for both of you. Pay attention to your own life, be yourself, and give it back to others. Remind yourself that giving is the same as receiving. When you give, you will get back. Just focus on giving people what you want.
How to increase your struggle of coming up with things to say
It’s always great to bounce off of what won’t work to give you more angles to a problem. What would not bring you more topics to talk about?
1. Asking closed ended (yes/no) questions.
2. Being uncurious and living in a bubble, closed off to new ideas and ways of looking at things.
3. Same ole, same ole. Doing the same thing every day with no variation.
4. Repeating the same sayings, slang, and stories.
5. Lying seems like a way to come up with things to say but how long could you keep that conversation going while being yourself?
6. Concentrating on not blushing or making a mistake.
7. Trying to impress people.
8. Waiting to talk, not pausing and taking the other person’s words in.
9. Trying to be just like other people.
10. Trying the latest fad (see vocal fry).
11. Complaining to appear like you don’t care.
12. Being negative to fit in around negative people.
13. Watching tv all day (although sometimes this is ok to do).
14. Saying something funny at the expense of others to be cool.
15. Focusing on what you can get out of a conversation or from someone.
16. Looking down and not paying attention.
17. Not putting yourself in other people’s shoes.
18. Staring blankly into space (unless you are meditating).
19. Never brainstorming.
20. Getting so locked into your routine day after day with no break (all work and no play).
Last tip and fail proof solution
Overcome not knowing what to say by talking. Make it a game to strike up a conversation with the next person you meet and see where it leads. You just might enjoy it and stop overthinking it. This is just another way to create a flow of conversation by putting it out there and being the initiator.
Do you have the courage to try and fail? Let me know how it goes and subscribe for more!
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