10 Things to Say When You Don’t Know What to Talk About

It doesn’t matter if you’re talking with people at a party, someone on an online dating app, or a cutie on your first date.

Being lost for words happens in every social situation. Especially when you barely know your conversational partner.

Do you also regularly catch yourself thinking, “I don’t know what to talk about”?

Then you’re in the perfect place.

You’re about to get the best tips to keep the conversation going when your mind is drawing a blank.

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Why don’t you know what to talk about?

It’s common to be tongue-tied in conversation. Particularly, when you’re talking with strangers. So there’s no reason to worry or feel bad.

Why is it that you’re sometimes lost for words?

  • Your bar of what’s good enough to talk about is disproportionately high.
  • You’re too focused on trying to impress them.
  • Your battery is running low.
  • Your social skills aren’t refined enough.

As you can see, all the above obstacles can be overcome. The rest of the article will give you tips and strategies for smooth, uninterrupted conversation. Even when you don’t know what to say.

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1. Realise that silence isn’t the enemy

Not knowing what to talk about on a date can feel terrifying.

You spend the first 20 – 30 minutes going back and forth about the typical stuff: job, studies, hobbies, and then…

The conversation slowly grinds to a halt.

You start to fidget nervously. And no matter how hard you think, you can’t come up with something to say.

So you hold your tongue and take a sip of your drink.

Let’s draw an important lesson from the most uncomfortable silence in Hollywood.

“Why do we feel it’s necessary to yack about bullshit in order to be comfortable?”
Mia Wallace

I couldn’t agree more.

I get it, though. On a date, if you don’t talk, you won’t be able to get to know each other.

But momentary silences don’t have to be awkward. Only the silences that grow out of fear are uncomfortable.

So the issue isn’t the quiet, it’s your resistance to a brief lapse in conversation.

Once avoiding the potential awkwardness of lulls is all you can think about, then you stop being sincere. And you begin talking about bullshit.

Now you’re talking for the sake of talking. But not because you’re genuinely interested in what you or the other person is saying.

That attitude gets in the way of building an emotional connection.

The fear of awkward silences isn’t easily shaken. So let me give you some pros about allowing pauses to enter your conversations.

  • Thoughtful. You look like someone who’s calmly processing what the other person has said, instead of wildly jumping back into the conversation.
  • Confident. You don’t feel the compulsion to fill every moment with empty words.
  • Deliberate. You’re someone who thinks carefully before you speak because you want to add value.
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2. Give playful answers

If you meet someone new, you can expect them to ask you the standard questions. Here’s how you can come up with something fun to say.

Have funny answers to the most commonly asked questions.

Suppose someone asks you what you do for a living.

You can obviously tell the truth. But when it comes to careers, the truth tends to be boring.

So use her predictable question as an opportunity to have fun.

Let me give you some examples that you can use as inspiration.

  • What do you do for a living? “I’m a vampire hunter. Never met one before, you say? You’re welcome. ;)”
  • Where are you from? “Originally? From the Upside Down. But I moved here because I wanted to work on my tan.”
  • How do you know the host? “We used to be colleagues. We both worked in Santa’s Workshop.”
  • Do you have any hobbies? “I really like the outdoors. Sometimes I go out in the woods and pretend to be a tree.”

The golden rule is to have fun.

Of course, if she asks you again, tell her the truth. Women like humor, but they don’t want to be dating a clown.

3. Memorize some good questions

Are you the type of person who can’t stand chit-chat? Here’s how to transition the conversation from small talk to big talk.

Have some questions ready that you care about.

These questions can range from playful to deep philosophical dives. But do keep in mind that strangers typically aren’t ready to jump in the deep end before knowing you better.

So it’s best to err on the light-hearted.

Here are some examples.

  • What’s been the highlight of your week so far?
  • Do you like to read? What’s a book you think everyone should read?
  • What’s the last movie you watched that you liked?
  • Suppose you get your hands on a time machine. What time would you go to?
  • If you won $1 million that you had to spend in a week. What would you do with it?

For more questions, check out my next article:

4. Go first

By now it’s common knowledge that everyone likes to talk about themselves. According to a study, about 60% of any conversation.

That insight might lead you to ask them 1,001 questions. But that gets stale VERY fast. After all, you’re basically asking them to carry the conversation.

Here’s how you ask questions in a way that makes someone like you. I call it, the CAL Method.

  1. Come up with a genuine question.
  2. Answer your question to give the other person an idea of what you’d like to hear.
  3. Listen and follow up.

Let me give you an example.

  1. “What’s the weirdest thing you find attractive in guys?”
  2. “Let me go first so you don’t feel put on the spot. So, I really like slightly crooked teeth for some reason. People who’ve had braces have teeth that are too symmetrical and odd-looking to me. But show me a crooked smile and I am IN haha. What about you?”
  3. “So you like big ears? You’re crazy. 😉 Have you always dated guys with elephant ears or is that a more recent development?”

By going first, your conversation partner will be a lot more comfortable answering your question.

Obviously, this is not the only way to have a conversation. Suppose you don’t know what to say after one round of the CAL method. Here are some alternatives.

  • Jump to a related topic. It’s easy to go from discussing one specific movie to talking about movies in general.
  • Share something relatable.
  • Nudge them to continue. “That was interesting. Say more.”

5. Be curious about the other person

Don’t you know what to say because you’re too much in your head? Here’s the solution.

Concentrate on the conversation.

People with social anxiety tend to focus on what the other person is thinking of them. All their energy goes into making a good impression.

But figuring out how to win some over is WAY harder than adding something to the conversation. Right?

So instead, zoom in on the topic at hand.

Suppose the person you’re talking with just came back from a work trip to London.

If you’re an anxious person, you might be thinking, “O, dear. I haven’t left the country in over a year. I’m so boring. What would they think of me if they knew?”

But if you allow yourself to be curious and interested, you’ll probably come up with all kinds of things to say. Such as:

  • “Did you have some time for yourself? Or was it all work and no play?”
  • “What was the thing that you liked most about your trip?”
  • “Would you like to go back again?”

6. Give genuine praise

Mark Twain once said:

“I can live for two months on a good compliment.”

He’s right. Compliments can be extremely powerful in making someone feel good. And that’s exactly what keeps conversations going.

Good conversations aren’t so much about exchanging information, as much as they are about stimulating emotions.

The best conversations are like a cup of coffee. They make us feel energized.

And what better way to get that result than by giving a sincere compliment.

Here are some examples of what I mean:

  • [If she looks good in short hair] “It’s rare to meet a girl with short hair! It looks really good on you.”
  • [If she’s talking passionately about something] “It’s really cool to see how obsessed you are about this haha. I hope some of it rubs off on me.”
  • [If she has a distinctive laugh] “Ahhh haha, the adorable piggy laugh! That’s the cutest thing I’ve heard today.”

For more ideas, check out my next article:

Holy tip:

When you give a compliment, wait for them to respond, then immediately switch to a new topic. Otherwise, things can get a bit awkward.

You: “Your freckles are incredibly cute.”

Her: “Hihi, thanks.”

You: “No, really. Very cute.”

Her: “Yeah, you just said that.”

You:

7. Revisit something you already talked about

As you get better at figuring out what to say, you’ll discover that you won’t always finish certain topics. In fact, it might get quite rare.

Before you find the end of one rabbit hole, you’ll already be digging the next.

Use that to your advantage.

Stuck again on what to say next? Go back to an earlier topic that you never finished.

“I remember you never finished your holiday story. What were you saying about the museum you went to?”

8. Recognize that nobody really remembers

A big reason for social anxiety comes from a false belief. Shy people tend to believe that others remember every detail of their conversations.

But almost nobody does. We only really remember the gist of our conversations. And if there’s anything that gets seared into our minds, it’s probably our own conversational flubs.

So don’t worry too much about making flawless conversation. Nobody will remember anyway.

What stays with people is not so much what you said, but how you made them feel.

And if you had SOMETHING to say, they’re likely to think you’re pretty cool.

9. Be vulnerable

Let me tell you the secret to making a great impression. Hint: it’s not necessarily being able to hold a good conversation.

If you want others to think you’re cool, you can actually say very little. It’s what you say that matters.

Because what do people who are hanging out with you want more than anything?

To chill and have a good time.

And one way to give people a relaxing, good time is by being real.

Instead of trying to impress, you say things for the sake of it. Instead of trying to be on top of everything, you ask dumb questions. Instead of being sophisticated or witty, you make simple remarks.

If you set the bar of conversation low, then everyone can relax.

10. Talk about the environment

An often overlooked source of fun that I use all the time.

The environment.

  • “Hmmm. Those pine trees smell so nice. Do you like nature?”
  • “That’s the cutest dog! Look at his tiny jacket. Do you have pets?”
  • “That’s a really cool poster. Very artsy. Do you do any drawing or painting?”

11. Play would you rather

When you’re talking to a girl, the most important rule is:

Avoid boring conversations.

Trust me, this is easier than you think.

Fun fact:

Did you know that there are somewhere in the range of 8×10^67 ways to sort a deck of cards? That’s an 8 followed by 67 zeros.

Well, the same goes for conversations. The possibilities are endless.

For example, when you don’t know what to talk about with a girl, ask her ‘Would you rather’ questions.

  • “Would you rather have the ability to see 10 minutes into the future or 150 years into the future?”
  • “Would you rather live in a place that’s too hot or a place that’s too cold?”
  • “Would you rather be rich and alone, or with your soul mate and poor?”

You want to break free out of the everyday.

Just don’t get stuck in these types of questions for too long. Then it seems like you have nothing else of substance to talk about.

12. Replace questions with statements

When you’re running out of things to say in a conversation, you’ll often be tempted to ask questions to fill in the silence.

So, what do you do?

I’m a journalist!

Oh cool, what do you write about?

Politics!

Nice, have you been doing this for a long time?

About 5 years

Do you see yourself doing it for 5 more years?

Look, these types of conversations can work. But you also run the risk of seeming like an interrogator.

Here’s a simple way to keep things fresh and exciting.

Turn your questions into statements.

For example, instead of saying:

  • “Do you like animals?”

Say:

  • “You seem like a girl who loves animals. If I’d have to guess, you’re probably a dog person.”

Not only does it encourage her to talk about herself, but it also shows you’re interested in what she has to say.

This is a great way to get a conversation going.

BONUS: The best way to keep online conversations going

Tease and challenge

Ever wondered how to reply to one-word texts over Whatsapp or an online dating app?

Haha

Let me help you out.

First, you have to realize that a girl who’s being curt is probably not that interested in you. Since there could be many explanations, let’s assume you’re just doing a bad job of being fun.

Because that we can fix right away by…

…playfully teasing and challenging her. Research has shown that these elements play a big role in getting someone to like you.

Anyway, let’s look at example from Coach Jay for some inspiration.

See what he’s doing? First, he hands out some imaginary points, then he playfully calls her out for coloring her hair.

To the untrained eye, it may not look like coach Jay’s teases are working. But the fact that she lists her beauty as her first good quality shows that she wants Jay’s validation.

That’s game set and match.

So the next time the conversation is dying, take a deep breath and ask yourself:

“Is this conversation funny, challenging or teasing?”
 

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Frequently Asked Questions

What do I say after introducing myself?

Here’s my best tip for when you don’t know what to say after ‘Hello’.

Ask open-ended questions about the other person’s interests.

  • “What brought you here today?”
  • “What’s something that you’re currently obsessed with?”
  • “Do you enjoy your work? If so, I’d love to hear more.”

From here, you want to share a little about yourself and find common ground.

What do I do if someone gives a short answer to my question?

If someone gives you a short answer, it’s very effective to move back and forth between these two responses:

  1. Reflect on their answer. “You like to read! Me too. I just finished a book by Cormac McCarthy. Have you read any of his work?”
  2. Ask follow-up questions. “You’re a fan of Murakami. I’m not familiar with his books. What about his work do you like most?

I don’t know what to say because I’m too concerned with what they think of me. What do I do?

When you’re having a conversation, learn to be present and focus on the person’s words. That way you shift the focus from yourself to what’s being said and allow yourself to relax a bit more.

Any time you’re feeling concerned about what they think, refocus and look to be curious again. Do this until it becomes habitual.

Outside of conversation, you want to work on your confidence so that you’re less concerned with other people’s opinions.

What do I do when the conversation draws to a halt?

Use any of the techniques discussed in the article. Such as asking open-ended questions, sharing anecdotes, commenting on the setting, or revisiting a previous topic.

I don’t know what to say on Tinder

If you struggle to have smooth conversations on Tinder, it helps to have some topics that always get good results.

I’m a big fan of talking about the next 3 topics:

  • What I’m doing right now. “I’m about to drink some wine and watch some grown men bash each other’s head in. You?
  • Food. “What’s one snack you’ll always have in your kitchen cupboards?”
  • Her. “If I could see your latest YouTube history, what would I see?”

For more tips and questions, check my next article:

I don’t know what to talk about – Closing words

“I don’t know what to talk about…”

If you apply the tips in this article, this sentence already belongs in the past.

That’s great. But how do you go about applying them?

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Blessings,
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