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  • (upbeat music)

  • - Hello, everyone,

  • and welcome back to "English with Lucy."

  • Today, I have a video for you on conversation

  • and how to be an amazing conversation partner.

  • All of this is what amazing speakers do,

  • what amazing conversationalists do.

  • I think we should get straight into it.

  • The first tip I have for you is ask hypothetical questions.

  • You might notice a trend here.

  • We are going to be trying to avoid yes/no questions.

  • They are the devil when it comes to starting conversations

  • and maintaining good conversations.

  • Asking hypothetical questions

  • and talking about imaginary scenarios and situations

  • is a really good way of getting to know someone better

  • and getting them to open up as well,

  • and it's not too difficult to do,

  • even if you aren't very advanced at English.

  • All you have to learn is the conditional tenses.

  • Maybe I should make a video on the conditionals.

  • Let me know if you'd like one.

  • But really good questions are questions like,

  • if you could have any job in the world, what would it be?

  • That's a really good one,

  • 'cause you get to know someone's biggest desires,

  • and they get to really open up to you.

  • So, for example, if you were to ask me that question,

  • if I could have any job in the world, what it would be,

  • I would say,

  • "I would love to be a reconstructive plastic surgeon."

  • That is what I've always wanted to do.

  • Unfortunately, you have to go through

  • the whole medicine route, which wasn't quite for me.

  • But I wanted to help people rebuild their faces

  • after accidents and trauma.

  • Fun fact about me.

  • Or another question:

  • if you won the lottery, what would you do?

  • What would you buy first?

  • That's a good one.

  • So if you asked me that,

  • what would I do if I won the lottery,

  • the first thing would be to pay off my parents' mortgage,

  • and then I would go about doing secret deeds.

  • I wouldn't tell anyone that I'd won the lottery,

  • but I'd make sure that the money goes to good places.

  • This brings us on to our next point, our next tip,

  • which is to emphasise similarity.

  • So you could respond to some of the things I've said

  • and emphasise how similar we are

  • because we like people who are like us.

  • Emphasising similarity improves social relations.

  • And in fact, salespeople use this a lot,

  • and they do it in physical ways as well.

  • It's a known technique

  • that salespeople will mimic hand gestures

  • and body language, and that can actually improve sales

  • without the buyer even realising it.

  • Now, we don't want to do that.

  • We're not necessarily salespeople.

  • Well, you might be, so you can use that.

  • But when we are having a conversation,

  • we want to find points of connection

  • and points of mutual interest.

  • If you hear your conversation partner say something

  • that you really relate with or that you can add to,

  • you need to let them know.

  • So, for example, with that first hypothetical question

  • about, if I could have any job what would I do,

  • if that related to you at all,

  • you could say phrases like, "Yes, I totally agree with you,"

  • or "We're really similar on that,"

  • or "We think similarly on that,"

  • or "I'm on the same page as you."

  • Those are really good phrases you can use

  • to show connection

  • and the fact that you are similar to someone.

  • Now, the next tip, tip number three, is slightly strange,

  • but it's really important.

  • It is to be aware of the sounds that you make

  • whilst you are thinking.

  • Now, you might not be totally aware

  • of the sounds you make whilst you're thinking,

  • and more importantly,

  • how different they are in different cultures.

  • In some cultures and in some languages,

  • it's totally and utterly normal

  • to make really loud open-mouthed sounds

  • when you're thinking of something.

  • And I noticed this in Spain.

  • I lived and taught in Spain for quite a while.

  • I had a Spanish partner.

  • I lived with his Spanish family.

  • I really did integrate into Spanish society.

  • And one thing that surprised me at the beginning

  • was the sounds they make when they think.

  • And it was something like this.

  • Eh, eh.

  • (laughs)

  • And it's just so different to what we do.

  • I think in British culture, it's considered rude

  • to have your mouth open in front of someone.

  • It's not like a written rule, but in general,

  • we're very, very conscious of eating with our mouths closed,

  • of not talking with food in our mouths,

  • and just not going "ah" in everyone's face.

  • So when we are thinking,

  • we are more likely to say "um," "mm,"

  • with our mouth closed.

  • So we still make that sound.

  • We still take that thinking time.

  • Let me know in the comments below

  • what sort of sound and mouth shape you use

  • in your language and culture

  • when you are taking a break in a conversation and thinking,

  • and then maybe think about tweaking that

  • if you're going to be speaking to native British people,

  • or Americans as well, just English speakers in general,

  • because it's different to us.

  • We would be maybe slightly surprised if someone went "eh"

  • (laughs) in our face.

  • Now, tip number four, this is another one

  • about filling in gaps, but it's a more general one.

  • It is improve fluency to avoid having gaps.

  • It can be really embarrassing and frustrating

  • when you keep getting stuck mid-conversation.

  • It's something that all language learners are scared of.

  • A great way of improving your English conversation skills

  • is to aim for fluency.

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  • Best of luck, and let me know how it goes.

  • Right, number five.

  • This is a tip

  • that I wish I had learnt a long, long time ago.

  • It's useful for you as learners of English,

  • and it's also useful for native speakers of English.

  • It is be sensible with how you word

  • potentially sensitive questions.

  • So imagine I asked someone,

  • "How is your job at Google going?"

  • and they respond with, "I was fired.

  • "Thanks for asking,"

  • or, "What do you do for work?" and they respond with,

  • "I'm employed and desperately searching."

  • Oh.

  • It's such an awkward situation

  • when you ask someone a question,

  • trying to make positive conversation,

  • and they just knock you down,

  • and it puts a downer on the whole conversation,

  • and it makes you feel bad,

  • and it makes them feel negatively towards you.

  • Now, there are good ways of rewording these questions

  • so that it gives people some escape route,

  • ways to avoid difficult topics.

  • So instead of asking someone, "How's your job going?"

  • you could say something like,

  • "Fill me in on your life since I last saw you,"

  • or "Catch me up on what's happened

  • "since I've last seen you."

  • If you ask to be filled in or you ask to be caught up,

  • that's a good way of asking someone to update you

  • on everything that's going on.

  • Or instead of asking something like,

  • "What do you do for work?", "What is your job?",

  • "What do you do for a living?",

  • you could ask a more general question like,

  • "So, what keeps you busy?"

  • It's a little nicer than, "What do you do?"

  • It's funny because in British English,

  • "What do you do?" is quite a common question.

  • It means what do you do for a living,

  • what do you do for work?

  • But when I went over to America and I asked people,

  • "What do you do?", they were a bit confused.

  • Maybe they were just being difficult.

  • I'm sure they understood me.

  • But had I asked a question like, "What keeps you busy?",

  • maybe they would have been more chatty with me.

  • Now, number six is a great one

  • if you have a lower level of English

  • but you want to keep conversation going.

  • It is ask open-ended questions.

  • And again, this is part of avoiding yes/no questions.

  • So if I ask someone, "Do you like London?"

  • they could say "yes" or "no," and then that might be it.

  • And then I'm stuck searching for something else to say.

  • However, if I ask a question like,

  • "So what do you like most about London?"

  • or "What do you like least about London?",

  • that gets the person talking.

  • They've got no way out.

  • They have to say something a bit broader,

  • and then you can expand on that.

  • So questions using "what" and "how" are really good

  • for keeping conversation going,

  • and then you can use all the other tricks,

  • like emphasising similarity.

  • If someone dislikes the same thing as you,

  • "I'm with you on that one.

  • "I can't stand queuing."

  • Queuing came to my mind because we're in lockdown

  • at the moment because of the coronavirus,

  • and I don't like the queues outside of the supermarkets.

  • Now, number seven is ask for advice.

  • And I'm not sure if I have a video on asking for advice,

  • and if I don't, I should definitely make one,

  • 'cause it's a big topic,

  • and it's a great tool in conversation.

  • So when you ask someone for their advice

  • or for their opinion, but more advice,

  • it's showing that you trust them, that you respect them,

  • it makes them feel knowledgeable,

  • and it just improves the connection between the two of you.

  • If you shared a problem,

  • and you feel like you've spent quite a long time

  • talking about it, and you want to pass the baton

  • to send it over to the other person for their response,

  • you could say something like,

  • "So what would you do in my situation?

  • "What would you do if you were me?"

  • And that's a really nice way of asking for advice

  • and asking for opinion without saying,

  • "What is your advice?", "What is your opinion?"