Conversational Threading: a life saver to avoid awkward silences

Here we go again. You know the feeling, that moment when you're in a conversation and suddenly find yourself tongue-tied, desperately searching for a way to keep the conversation going. I've often been there. I vividly remember that one networking event where I met a prospect. She asked me, "What does your company do?" I replied, "We're into training," and bam, there it was - that awkward silence.

Or that time when I was on a first date, and the question came, "What movies do you like?" My answer? "I love action movies." And then... nothing. I was speechless, not knowing how to keep the conversation going. My conversation partner then fired another question at me, and I found myself responding with just two words. Phew.

After many such situations, I decided to look for a technique that could help me. That's when I stumbled upon 'conversational threading,' or as we call it in the Netherlands, 'gespreks-rijgen.' This technique was a real game-changer for me, and I've heard how well it works in my training sessions and webinars. I believe it can work for you too.

So, how does 'conversational threading' work? It's actually quite simple. Instead of directly answering a question, you add extra information to your response. This extra information gives the other person various hooks to latch onto and continue the conversation. This turns a potentially dead-end conversation into a lively exchange of stories, ideas, and much more.

For me, this technique was a lifesaver. It not only helped me have better conversations but also made them much more interesting and engaging. And the beauty of 'conversational threading' is that it can be applied in any situation - whether you're at a business meeting, a first date, or in line at a bookstore. So, don't keep it to yourself; share it with as many people as possible.

Smooth Chitchat for Dummies: The Secret of Conversational Threading
You now know what 'conversational threading' is. It's a clever conversation method that turns a simple awkward exchange into a sparkling exchange of stories, ideas, and much more. Instead of quickly answering a question, it's about adding extra information to give the other person more options to keep the conversation going. It's a handy trick for everyone, but especially useful for introverts.

Why? Let's unravel the knot (yes, that's a pun) in three settings: business meetings, first dates, and spontaneous encounters in bookstores or concerts.

Chit-chatting in Business? Piece of Cake!
Imagine this. You're at a business networking event, and someone asks, "What does your company do?" You could say, "We're into AI," and leave it at that. Or, you can approach the conversation like a pro: "We specialize in AI, mainly focused on healthcare and education. We've just completed an exciting project in a major hospital in Amsterdam, helping them with their patient records. I live just outside Amsterdam, in Haarlem. So, it was nice to work on a project close by. It saves me from traffic jams and commuting time. So, I didn't have to leave my dog alone for too long."

See what happened? Instead of ending up in a dead-end street, you've given your conversation partner a buffet of chat topics - your work, the Amsterdam project, traffic jams, your dog... Quite nice, right? Your conversation partner can now jump into any of those threads.

Surviving First Dates with Conversational Threading
First dates can feel like a trip to Mordor. But don't worry, Conversational Threading is here to save you. Suppose they ask, "What movies do you like?" Instead of simply saying, "I love fantasy," try this: "I'm a fan of fantasy, especially 'The Lord of the Rings' movies. Tolkien's Middle-earth completely captivated me; it's so rich and deep. It even encouraged me to go hiking because I imagine I'm on an adventure in the Shire. But you know what's funny? When a book gets turned into a movie, like 'The Lord of the Rings,' I just have to read the book. The detail and depth are often much richer!"

Voila! You have a bunch of conversation starters - about your movie preferences, your love for nature and hiking, or your unique reading habits.

A Casual Chat in a Bookstore or Concert
Standing in line at a bookstore or waiting at a concert can be a great opportunity for some casual conversational threading. Suppose someone asks, "Are you here for a specific book?" You could simply say, "Yes." Or make it more interesting: "Yes, I'm on the hunt for the latest book by Adam Grant. His management books are very strong. Have you ever read anything by him? I'm also looking for a good Indonesian cookbook. I'm pretty good with Italian cuisine, and now I want to master a good rendang."

Again, your response is full of potential conversation topics - management books, cooking, Indonesian food.

And why is this so great for introverted people? Well, as an introvert, starting a conversation can sometimes feel like running a marathon. But with conversational threading, you're not just answering questions - you're giving the other person a whole bunch of follow-up options. This means they talk more, and you can comfortably contribute to the conversation. It makes conversations a bit less daunting and much more interesting.

As trainers and facilitators, we can supercharge our training programs and classroom sessions with the technique of conversational threading. It's more than just a communication tool; it's a way to engage participants actively. And you can use it to support your participants to avoid awkward silences.

In summary, conversational threading is a simple but effective way to make conversations less scary and awkward.





Conversational Threading: a life saver to avoid awkward silences

10 min