If you are an introvert, shy or socially awkward, then making conversation with others can be terrifying. It helps to have a few ready prepared topics so you don’t go blank when you meet and have to talk to someone new.
Being socially at ease is a skill that comes more naturally to some than others. However, like all skills, it can be learned. Whatever social level you are performing at, you can do things to help you feel more confident and at ease. Being prepared can really help, so read through the following topics to talk about to see which ones you might like to try.
You can always practice with a colleague or friend in order to refine your skills for next time you have a big social or work engagement to attend. Small talk doesn’t have to be a nightmare. It can actually lead to building great relationships with new people.
When beginning a conversation, try to remain calm. Take a few deep breaths, relax your shoulders and smile. Make good eye contact with the other person. Try to stay open to sharing something about yourself and learning something about the other person. Most people are delighted when they meet someone who is interested in hearing about them.
If you don’t get much response, remember that the other person might be shy or socially awkward too. It’s not necessarily your fault when conversations don’t go well, so try not to beat yourself up if you don’t succeed in having a great conversation with every person you meet.
Here are 6 great topics to talk about when you meet someone new:
1. Compliment the other person
Beginning a conversation with a genuine compliment is always a great start. It is also really easy to do. Try to make it specific. Rather than “you look nice,” it’s better to say something like, “I really like that necklace, it’s so unusual.”
A genuine compliment will make the other person feel warm towards you. After all, we all love to be complimented on our choices. It may also lead on to further topics of conversation. Initially, you just want to make a connection to get the conversation started.
2. Share something about yourself
The best conversations are when all participants share something about themselves and learn something about the other person.
Sometimes, if you ask lots of questions, the other person might feel like they are being interrogated. They may wonder why they should they tell you about themselves when they don’t really know you.
However, if you share something about yourself first, this can develop trust and lead to a nicely balanced conversation. You could try something like, “I have never been to this city before. Have you?”
3. Ask open-ended questions
Asking open-ended questions can lead to a more flowing conversation. Avoid questions that have a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer as this can result in a very stilted and one-sided conversation.
Questions that begin with what, how, where, who or why are open-ended and make great conversation starters. Examples include ‘What do you like best about this country/town/ restaurant?’ or ‘Where in the world would you most like to visit?’
It’s important to really listen to the other person’s answers so you can make an appropriate response. This will keep the conversation going. Most people really like to talk about themselves and will be happy to have someone interested in finding out more about them.
4. Ask about hobbies and interests
Hobbies and interests are one of the best topics to ask about as this gives the other person a chance to talk about something they love. This is a question that is personal but not too personal.
Personally, I think that ‘What do you like to so in your spare time?’ is one of the best conversation starters there is.
5. Try talking about current affairs
Current affairs can provide many good topics to talk about. If there has been a big event going on in your area, the country or the world, then it is likely your conversation partner will have some opinion on the matter.
For example, you could talk about the Olympics, a recent awards ceremony or a major local event. You could also talk about the latest blockbuster movie or paperback bestseller. However, it might be wise to avoid talking about politics or religion with someone you don’t know very well as these can be very sensitive subjects.
6. Talk about acquaintances in common
If you know someone that the other person knows, then asking how they met can be a safe conversation starter. For example, if you are at a party, it is likely that you both know the host.
Of course, you don’t want to spend the whole evening talking about other people, but these initial conversation starters can lead to other topics you have in common.
Hopefully, once you break the ice, you will soon be having a great conversation about something you both feel passionate about.
It’s a good idea to practice your conversational skills as much as possible. Start off in an easy way with a conversation where the stakes are not too high if you get something wrong.
Get into the habit of chatting with cashiers, cab drivers and waiting staff. When you need to talk to people you don’t know well, practice some of the above topics and add some that are relevant to your personality and interests.
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