How many times have you started a conversation only to come upon awkward silence two sentences into it? Starting a conversation, especially with someone you don't know well, can be difficult. Debra Fine, author of "The Power of Meeting New People," believes that casual conversation paves the way to more in-depth conversations, leading to future relationships. Mastering the art of casual conversation without awkwardness can help you socially, academically and professionally.
Approaching One Person
Leave your anxiety at the door. Repeating positive affirmations to yourself before approaching someone can ease some of the nervousness you might be feeling. Try, "I can talk to people. I am approachable." This is short, to the point and easy to repeat. Smile despite what you are feeling inside.
Mingle with the crowd. It is difficult to start a conversation if you plant yourself in the corner of the room or at a table all evening. Find someone standing alone and approach her. Introduce yourself with a warm smile and a handshake.
Notice something about the other person, make a comment and ask an open-ended question. Listen thoughtfully to the answer so you are able to respond personally to what was said. This allows for a comfortable exchange for both of you.
Approaching a Group
Look for opportunities to engage in conversation. If you are standing near people already engaged in a conversation, turn and face them. Use body language and facial expressions such as nodding and smiling to show you are interested.
Make eye contact with one or more people in the group. Look for positive feedback through body language or expressions. These can include smiling at you, opening the circle a little wider to include you or even inviting your response.
Wait for a pause and introduce yourself. For example, say, "Hi my name is Sue. I couldn't help but overhear you talking about your recent vacation to Hawaii. It sounds wonderful. Did you get a chance to visit the volcanoes?" This enables you to introduce yourself, share what you are thinking and feeling, ask a question and wait for a response.
- Avoid nervous chatter. Pause to allow the other person to respond to you.
- Keep the conversation from getting too heavy. Exchanging too much personal information too soon can scare off potential friends and create anxiety in others.
- Watch your body language. Stand with your arms at your side and smile. This looks inviting to others.
- Don't take it personally if someone doesn't respond in the manner you hoped for. Tell yourself it is that person's issue and move on to someone else. Negative thoughts will make it difficult for you to approach someone else.
- The Power of Meeting New People: Start Conversations, Keep Them Going, Build Rapport, Develop Friendships and Expand Business; Debra Fine
- Life with Confidence: Conversation Starters: How to Make it Really Easy
- How to Start a Conversation and Make Friends; Don Gabor
- Georgia Psychological Association: How to Improve Your Listening Skills
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