Being able to converse confidently and comfortably is a gift not all are bestowed with. However, the good news is that it doesn't have to be an innate talent; it can also be developed.
Most of us are able to hold a lengthy conversation with a person with whom we have something in common. But, there are only a handful of people who can talk to anyone, anywhere and for any length of time.
You must have been frequently thrown into social situations you may have to converse with people much older than you and with whom you have nothing in common. Here, we have provided a few tricks.
When conversing with a complete stranger, there are two aspects you have to grapple with: the first is how to go about breaking the ice, and the second is to keep the conversation going.
These subjects are universal and almost everyone can contribute to them. To take the first, even if a person does not have much to say about his family, you can always divert the talk to the importance of having a strong bond with your parents/children, etc.
Talking about school is another way of keeping a conversation going as it is a universal topic. You can ask them about things such as where they went to school, whether they liked it, their favorite subject, best memories of school, etc.
An interesting hobby is a great topic of discussion, but even something simple like watching television allows you the chance to talk about your favorite shows, television trends, celebrities, etc.
Keeping yourself abreast with the happenings of your country, and the world at large, has numerous benefits. Discussing the stories that have made headlines recently is especially useful in situations where you seem to have nothing in common with the person you are talking to.
Most people are generally aware of the 'major' happenings; and even if they are not, they usually develop an opinion as they hear more about the subject.
However, it doesn't always work, for there are those who will either respond monosyllabically or in a single sentence never exceeding ten words. In situations like these, presume that the person would rather listen than talk, so take over, supplying them with information about your work, interests, family, etc.
However, never let this turn into a "verbal diarrhea"; pause frequently to let the other person contribute. You still need to keep asking questions (even if you are only going to get one-word answers) to make the person feel like he/she is a part of the conversation, and not just an audience to a self-absorbed speaker.
Always remember that the questions you should ask must be open-ended. Try not to ask a question that can be answered with a yes or a no. When talking to a woman, instead of saying "I like your dress", say something such as "I like your dress, where did you get it from?".
This can open up the subject, to which many questions can follow, such as, "do you usually shop there?", "Have you been to the new store at ...?". You can also add something more such as, "I like the styles and fabrics at ...", "You can get an amazing bargain at...", etc.
If the occasion involves a meal, there can be plenty to talk about. You can talk about the food you like, interesting cuisines you may have experimented with, a healthier way of cooking, your culinary skills (or the lack thereof), or you can even throw in a restaurant disaster story.
These tips will help you keep a conversation going and interesting. Just one more parting tip: never contradict or flatly disagree with the other person, and don't be too forceful with your opinions.