'I've Been Studying Communication for 20 Years—Here Are My 7 Favorite Phrases to Keep a Conversation Going'

Whether speaking to someone for the first time or the millionth time—or perhaps the first time in a long time—you may find that the conversation starts strong only to taper off in minutes. Sometimes, it's a sign to move on, but not always. In fact, pivoting and finding new ways to get the conversation flowing again can profoundly benefit your social and work lives.

"Mastering the art of keeping a conversation engaging is a valuable skill that can significantly improve social interactions," says Mason Farmani, an intuitive personal and corporate life coach who has studied communication for about two decades. "It involves genuinely listening to others, showing interest in their thoughts and responding in a way that keeps the dialogue dynamic."

Farmani says it shows respect and empathy—two traits you may have in spades but struggle to showcase as you wonder how to keep the conversation going. Having a few go-to phrases in your back pocket can allow you to show your best self and cultivate stronger connections. Farmani shares his seven favorite phrases for keeping a conversation going to help you get started.

Related: 13 Best Phrases to End a Meeting, Plus the #1 Way You *Don't* Want to Close It Out, According to Psychologists

7 Phrases To Keep a Conversation Going, According to a Communication Expert

1. "That's intriguing! Could you elaborate on [specific detail]?"

Questions are a common strategy for Farmani when he wants to liven up a conversation. This one is especially inviting.

"It demonstrates genuine interest and encourages the other person to expand on a particular aspect of the topic that caught your attention," Farmani says. "This helps to maintain focus and deepen the discussion."

Related: 10 Phrases To Effectively Start a Conversation, According to Psychologists

2. "I understand your point. Have you ever encountered [related experience]?"

This phrase opens the door for you to learn more about the other person.

"It connects the current topic to personal experiences, inviting the other person to share more about themselves," Farmani says. "This builds rapport and enriches the conversation."

3. "What are your thoughts on [related topic]? I'm interested in hearing your perspective."

In today's world, people are quick to share their hot takes and tune out anyone else's. This phrase represents a refreshing departure from that tired trend, shifting the focus to someone else by encouraging them to share their POV.

"This fosters mutual respect and a balanced exchange of ideas," Farmani explains.

Related: 5 Clear Signs a Coworker Likes You, According to a Psychologist

4. "That reminds me of a situation where [share a relevant anecdote]."

Sometimes, statements—especially about you—offer a better way to liven up a lull in a conversation than asking a person a question about themselves.

"[This phrase] adds a personal touch to the discussion and can prompt further exploration or relate the topic to real-life examples," Farmani says. "Anecdotes make conversations more relatable and engaging."

5. "How do you think [current event or trend] will impact [relevant industry or interest]?"

This one can be particularly handy during networking events and interviews.

"It introduces broader topics or news, prompting the other person to consider future implications or trends," Farmani explains. "This keeps the conversation forward-looking and relevant."

Related: 11 Best Phrases to Close an Email, Plus the #1 Way You *Don’t* Want to End Your Message

6. "Could you help me understand more about [specific aspect]? I'm curious about its mechanics."

Lifelong learners often exhibit high-level thinking, and this phrase exudes both (with a healthy dose of flattery).

"It demonstrates openness to learning from the other person's knowledge or expertise," Farmani says. "This encourages clear explanations and promotes a deeper understanding of complex concepts."

7. "I hadn't considered that perspective before. What led you to that conclusion?"

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it may spark new life in a conversation.

"This phrase acknowledges the novelty of their viewpoint and invites them to explain their reasoning, which can lead to a deeper and more insightful conversation," Farmani says.

Related: 10 Phrases To Shut Down Workplace Gossip, According to Therapists

When To Let a Conversation End

Even the best conversations must end eventually (we need to sleep, after all). Knowing when to end a conversation is essential too.

"Determining the right moment to end a conversation hinges on various factors, including context, participants and interaction goals," Farmani says.

Farmani suggests ending a conversation when:

  • Key points have been addressed

  • A person is displaying social cues that they'd like to move on, such as brief responses or distraction

  • A person's body language suggests they're over it, such as glancing at a watch, stepping back or turning away

  • A person says they need to go

  • It becomes repetitive or circular

  • The discussion becomes emotionally intense or contentious (at least a break might be best)

  • Energy levels are in the basement ("Ending the conversation is considerate if either party appears tired or mentally drained," Farmani says.)

How can you end the conversation gracefully?

"Summarizing the key points and confirming any follow-up actions is a helpful way to end," Farmani says. "In social gatherings, ending a conversation after a reasonable period allows for mingling and socializing with others. The aim is to ensure that the conversation remains respectful, productive and pleasant for both parties."

Next: 15 Phrases to Politely End a Conversation, According to Psychologists


  • Mason Farmani, an intuitive personal and corporate life coach who has studied communication for about two decades