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Learn to Ask Follow Up Questions

Have you ever had this problem? You are having a good conversation with someone but suddenly the conversation comes to a stop. You feel awkward and don't know what to say. The other person tries to change the topic and you think he or she might not want to talk to you. What is the problem? What can you do about it?

One reason that conversations stop is because of poor listening. The solution is to first pay attention to what the other person says and then use follow up questions to bring the conversation to a deeper level. The first key to doing this is to listen to the clues the other person gives you about their interests and their feelings. Find out what they like or don't like, what they enjoy doing or hate doing. Notice what they speak about with enthusiasm.

After you understand their interests, try asking a question, but be sure it is a thoughtful question. That will show that you, too, are interested in the topic. If possible, ask an open-ended question instead of a question that can be answered with one or two words. For example, if the topic is food and the other person likes fish, you could ask "what kind of fish do you like to eat?". However, the answer will probably be something rather simple. Instead, you could ask, "What do you think are the best kinds of fish?" or something similar.

After asking a follow up question, listen again for the answer. You can share your own ideas on the topic. This again shows that you share similar ideas and interests. Then start again by asking another follow up. Using this approach, you can have long, interesting conversations that represent real communication. Have fun!

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