Never Run Out Of Ideas For What To Talk About On The Phone

By Nicola Kirkpatrick|Updated August 31, 2022

We’ve gotten into an era of primarily text-based communications. Holding a conversation while speaking on the phone is not as common as it used to be. This may make phone calls daunting for some people, especially those already prone to social anxiety. You may freeze and wonder what to say. You might also become more embarrassed and frozen the more time that passes without words being exchanged. Being prepared ahead of time can help you avoid the worst parts of this anxiety. Try these conversation ideas, so you always know what to talk about on the phone.

Figuring Out What To Talk About On The Phone

Not Sure How To Keep The Conversation Going?

One of the differences between phone calls and face-to-face interactions is that you can’t see the other person’s expressions and body language over the phone. We don’t always realize how much we depend on those cues until we don’t have them. Also, you’re not sharing a common space and experience with the person on the other end. That’s okay. There’s still plenty for you to discuss.

One of the absolute best ways to keep a conversation going (and enjoyable for both people) is to ask questions. This is true whether you are just getting to know someone, or you already know them well. Asking an open-ended question will prompt the other person to continue talking, which gives you time to just listen, think about how you will respond as well as potentially give you ideas for other responses or questions. Being a good listener is an extremely good phone skill and life skill to have as well. A good listener will earn their right to speak because they are willing to offer more than their own individual experiences. Being a good listener consists of the following:

  • Be honest about your current limitations. Try not to fake that you are giving your partner your undivided attention. Instead be honest about your current limitations. For example, share if you feel tired, stressed from a long day, hungry and need to eat something, or you don’t have the attention span at that moment to have a lengthy one hour conversation versus a 5- to 10-minute conversation. If you notice that your mind is starting to wonder and you are having difficulties paying attention, it could benefit to share with the other person that you will give them a call at a later time. You could say something like “It has been a long and busy workday for me and I missed my lunch. I need to grab a bite to eat. I will give you a call later.”
  • Be present and just listen. Although you are communicating via phone, you can still reflect that you are present by just listening without interrupting the other. This will show that you care about what they are saying and what they may be feeling.
  • Practice reflective listening, especially if you don’t quite understand. Reflective listening consists of summarizing out loud what the other person just said, from your understanding, to see if any correction is needed. This allows you the opportunity to then share your thoughts, beliefs, or ask the other person questions for clarification to avoid assumptions about what was said or happened. Summarizing also lets the other person know that you understand how they may have felt in the situation and prevents minimizing what they may have experienced in the situation.
  • Be attentive. Try to give your undivided attention to the person on the other end of the phone by minimizing distractions on your end, such as talking to others in your presence or engaging in activities that create distracting or loud noises.
  • Display patience. Try not to interrupt or rush the other person to finish what they are saying just so you can add your perspective. The goal is to engage in a conversation and reflect to the other that you care and want to know what they think, feel, or experience.

Phone Call Conversation Topics

If you’re prone to anxiety or even just don’t have that much experience talking to a person on the phone, it might help to write down a list of topics you enjoy talking about or topics that you know the person you will be talking to would find interesting or would like to discuss. That way, when you feel yourself about to go silent, you can look at the topics and pick up the conversation again. However, if you sense that either you or the other person may need a break from the phone call, it is okay to suggest a break and propose a call at a later time. Here are some examples. You can select the ones that work best for you or make up a list of your own topic starters.

Ask Them To Tell A Story About Their Childhood

If you’re getting to know someone as an adult, a great way to get more familiar with them is to ask for a memorable story from their childhood. They may really enjoy reminiscing, and you’ll get to know a part of them that you otherwise would not. It can be an easy way to open up to each other and be silly. Asking them about their childhood also will provide insight to you in regard to their family members, their family dynamics, and if their family is still actively present in their life.

Ask Where They’ve Been

This really opens up a lot of questions. You can ask about the places they’ve traveled, the events they attend regularly, or what they did last weekend. Even just knowing the different places they have lived (or whether they’ve always been in one place) is a great start to a conversation. This could also lead to a conversation about their plans for future places to travel, events they would like to attend, or places they would like to live.

In addition to learning about each other’s past, a casual phone conversation can be a good time to share your plans for the future. First, as suggested above, ask them about their goals, hobbies they want to try, vacations they’d like to take and then tell them about your plans and aspirations.

The Takeaway

Topics to talk about are limitless. Open yourself up and don’t worry about asking a silly question. You could ask them what their favorite taco topping is. Who knows, it might just kick off an interesting discussion. If “dead air” happens, meaning no one is talking, acknowledge that uncomfortable silence rather than racing to the next question on your list. That, alone, could help build trust between you and the other person.

If your social anxiety is preventing you from making phone calls, an online licensed therapist or in-person licensed therapist can help you take small steps toward being more comfortable on the phone. They can teach you techniques to calm your nerves and allow for a safe space to explore any underlying reasons for your social anxiety.

How BetterHelp Can Support You

Not Sure How To Keep The Conversation Going?

Online therapy is a realistic flexible option that offers the means in which individuals can meet together with a therapist on their schedule. With individual online therapy, you can email your counselor anytime or day of the week and schedule live video, phone, or text chat sessions. Even though time must be taken to attend online appointments, it is often not nearly as stressful as arranging time away from the office to attend the live counseling session. If you find that you continuously run out of ideas about what to talk about on the phone, you should consider seeing a counselor at BetterHelp. . Below are a couple of counselor reviews from people experiencing similar issues.

Counselor Reviews

“Amie has truly helped me so much these past months with my anxiety and feelings of depression. She has continuously helped me with my social anxiety which is the main reason I came on here. I would always recommend her to anyone. My life has been much more positive and fulfilling ever since my journey began.”

“I had the pleasure of working with Ann for a few months, and she helped me so much with managing my social anxiety. She was always so positive and encouraging and helped me see all the good things about myself, which helped my self-confidence so much. I’ve been using all the tools and wisdom she gave me and have been able to manage my anxiety better now than ever before. Thank you Ann for helping me feel better!”

Bonus Sample Questions to Keep The Phone Conversation Going:

  • What was your favorite subject in school?
  • What do you miss about being a child?
  • What are some of your happy memories as a child?
  • Do you exercise or have a workout routine?
  • Do you play any sports?
  • Do you have a religious belief?
  • If you were granted 1 “do-over” in life, what would it be?
  • Do you have any pets?
  • What is your favorite food?
  • If you could tell someone “thank you,” who would you tell and what would you be thankful for?
  • Do you have any children?
  • Have you ever been engaged?
  • Have you ever been married?
  • Have you experienced an embarrassing moment before?
  • What is a bad habit that you keep a secret?
  • What about you, do people find most attractive?
  • What are you proud of?
  • Where do you see your life 10 years from now?
  • Are you planning to take a vacation this summer?
For Additional Help & Support With Your Concerns
Speak with a Licensed Therapist
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.