Power Conversation: How to Respond to Someone Naturally (Part 3c of 3)

Now that you are familiar with the concept of Active Listening from the previous post (Power Conversation Part 3b), we will talk about how to use this concept in your real daily conversations.

responding to someone naturally

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The reason I want to give you this powerful, yet simple strategy is because I often make comments to my students about events in my life and I usually receive one of the following responses:

  • silence
  • a confused look on their face
  • struggle to say something but nothing really comes out
  • a somewhat unnatural and unconfident response

By the end of this post, I want you to have the ability to respond naturally and more important, confidently when you hear a comment from your friend, co-worker, or teacher.

Here’s how to do it

How can I respond naturally in a conversation?

This speaking strategy is made up of two parts–first, a natural response followed by a question.

1st Part: Echo Word or Phrase

What is an “echo word” or “echo phrase”? Well, I’m sure most of you know the meaning of the word “echo”, like when you yell in a cave and your voice repeats and comes back to you. We’ll use this same idea to respond naturally.

It is simply choosing a key word or phrase from the speaker and then making it into a question with rising voice intonation. The key word or phrase is going to be the one that stands out to you the most or appears to be the most interesting.

Example:

A: Hey, what’s up!
B: Oh, hi! Not too much. How about you?
A: Actually, I just started taking guitar lessons so I’m pretty excited!
B: ________________?

So, how would you respond in this case?
What would be the key word or phrase?

Well, I would probably say that “guitar lessons” stands out to me like the most important topic in that sentence. Did you also choose “guitar lessons”?

So, let’s see how it looks.

A: Hey, what’s up!
B: Oh, hi! Not too much. How about you?
A: Actually, I just started taking guitar lessons so I’m pretty excited!
B: Guitar lessons? Wow, that’s great!
A: Thanks! I can’t wait to start!

When you respond with “guitar lessons” make sure you use a rising intonation like a question. In this example, I added the comment “That’s great” to encourage the speaker but also express your sincere excitement for them.

2nd Part: Ask a Question

Now that we have the first part mastered, let’s be even MORE natural and add a question. The easiest questions to think of quickly are “Wh” questions, particularly “when” or “where” but you could use any question.

Example:

A: Hey, what’s up!
B: Oh, hi! Not too much. How about you?
A: Actually, I just started taking guitar lessons so I’m pretty excited!
B: Guitar lessons? Wow, that’s great! When are you going to start?
A: I’m going to start next week, but I don’t have a guitar yet!
B: Really? Have you started looking for one?
A: Well, I’ve looked online at auction sites but I haven’t found one that I like yet.
B: I’m sure you’ll find one soon.

When you ask a question, you are automatically showing interest to the speaker’s topic. In this example, I added another question by the second speaker to show how you could continue to show interest naturally.

So, here’s a basic formula to help you remember:

Echo Word + Question = Natural Response

Start practicing with anything you hear from friends or co-workers. If you don’t have access to an English speaker, you can even practice with characters from your favorite American TV shows. When a character makes a statement, pause the video and try responding with this strategy.

With some practice, you will be responding naturally to people very quickly!

For more examples of this speaking strategy, please watch the English 2.0 Podcast episode Speaking Skills 1.

This concludes the “Power Conversation” blog series. Thank you for reading! If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear from you. Please leave your questions and comments below where it says, “Leave a Reply.”

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6 Responses to Power Conversation: How to Respond to Someone Naturally (Part 3c of 3)

  1. tota loch at #

    Hi AL; i liked your suggestion,i will try to apply it.

    • ALsensei at #

      Dear Tota,

      Great! I’m glad to hear that. Please let us know how it goes!

      All the best,

      Al

  2. Nuran at #

    Hi Al,
    This tips are really useful. I tried a few and it really works.
    I learned from you how to write e- mail. Here I should have written Dear Sensei, but I thought this isn’t formal writing. Because I am your follower and ı know you a little bit. Of course we haven’t met face to face. But your first name is very close to my mother-tongue.
    If I am wrong please tell me.
    Thanks a lot.
    Regards,

    • ALsensei at #

      Hi Nuran,

      It’s nice to hear from you. I’m glad to hear that the tips are working for you!

      Actually, my family name is not “Sensei.” “Sensei” is the Japanese word for “teacher” so many of my students call me that here in Japan. Also, the word “sensei” is becoming more widely know in America and around the world so that’s why I use that for my website.

      Addressing your question, yes, since we have been in contact before, it is appropriate to write an informal greeting (“Hi Al”). Also, I prefer to keep my communication informal so it is just fine to greet me that way. In addition to that, the name of my website is “AL-sensei” so we can assume that whatever a person calls themselves, other people can call them by that name as well without any trouble.

      So, you have done it just right. If you have any other questions, please let me know. Thanks for stopping by the website!

      Al

  3. Zohir at #

    Hi, think about this simple method.

    • ALsensei at #

      Hi Zohir,

      Thank you for your comment. I hope you have found it helpful. Please try it and let me know how it goes!
      Cheers!

      Al