You do not know anyone at the event except the host, and you always try hard not to look lost. Every day, we have casual conversation about 12 times a day. You can acquire conversation skills to talk with confidence and:
Small talk is required before you can get to any sort of real conversation. Icebreakers clear the way for more intimiate talk.
Great small-talkers are experts at making others fell included, valued and comfortable. This helps further business relationships, closing deals, opening doors to romance and making friends.
With practice, you can do it too!
Take the risk, assume the burden of coming up with topics, remembering names and introducing yourself to others. Relieve awkward moments and fill pregnant pauses. If others are comfortable in your precence, they will feel good about doing business or socializing with you.
Appreciate small talk and recognize its value, then you will be more inclined to acquire this new skill.
As a kid you were taught: good things to those who wait, silence is golden, wait to be introduced, don't talk to strangers. As a child, this ensured your safety and taught you manners. As adults, your safety is not at stake with every person we meet.
We must now teach ourselves that in safe situations to make it a point to talk to and engage strangers, and acquaintances. This will bring new dimensions to your life, good friends, long term clients, etc.
Introduce Yourself. "Hello, my name is Andrew, it is nice to meet you." Find an approachable person and start a conversation.
Silence is impolite. Shyness can be mistaken for arrogance - their visible traits are the same.
Good things to those that go get them. Initiative, interesting people don't just introduce themselves (unless they have read this book, and find you approachable).
Monologue's are a chore, one word answers do not count as conversation. You must become invested in the conversation, actively help others fell comfortable. "What do you do for a living?", is lame or old.
|Business Ice Breakers||Social Ice Breakers|
Small talk is not about an agenda, it is a way to acknowledge a person as being real and there. And, do not forget that "yes, you can start a conversation". By doing so, you get to choose your conversation partner.
Be the first to smile at someone (they will smile back), make eye contact. Practice saying 'hi' to random people at the mall or in the grocery store. Make it a point of learning other people's name.
To learn someone's name you can (1) reply "Nice to meet you, Andrew", (2) immediately use it in the conversation, over and over "So, Roy, how are you going to spend all of your vacation days?", (3) when starting a conversation do not think about your reply, just focus on the name, (4) Confess if you forget - right away, (5) Never fake that you know the person's name, "Please remind me of your name", (6) You no longer have to avoid people because you forget their name (you are confident enough to admit your short-coming) - and you appear rude if you avoid someone, (7) Always give up your name, just in case your conversation partner has forgotton yours (and is too shy to ask).
Make a point of looking around when you first enter a room - size it up and determine your approach. When starting a conversation, do you dangling statements. Instead of just asking "What a beautiful day.", to which most people reply "Yes", "Indeed", or "Uh-hum", add a follow-up question like "What is your favourite season.". For conversations, it is the effort that counts - the more interest you show in me, the more interesting you become to me (vain but true).
You goal is to get your partner to talk about him/herself. Ask open ended questions with words like Describe, Tell me, How did and What was the most/least. And, do not forget about follow-up. "How was your day today", with "What made it so great","How did you celebrate", "Tell me about it".
Avoid simple answer questions in favour of open ended description ones.
|What do you do for a living?||Tell me about your work.|
|Do you have kids?||Tell me about your family.|
|How was your weekend?||What was the best part of your weekend?|
Great conversation hinges on talking and listening. Listening is seen not just heard - so be aware of your facial expressions and head nods. Do not look around - stay focussed. Nod, this reinforces you are following along.
|Positive Message||Negative Message|
|Eye contact||Covering mouth|
|Open arms and body||Rubbing body parts|
|Relax body posture||Fiddle|
|Force partner to talk||Making tapping sounds|
|Nod and smile||Cross arms|
Too much listening and not enough veralizing can halt a conversation.
Paraphrasing the speaker clarifies that you understood and it helps the speaker recognize when you mis-understood. People naturally calm down when they realize they have been understood - before solving a problem, let the person know that you heared (and understood) them.
When listenting you should...
Try preparing before your next event. Think about TV, films or books that you have read. Technology you have used, recommend a bank or stock broker.
Be weary with old acquitances, a lot can change:
|Safe Questions||Dangerous Questions|
|Bring me up to date with your family||How's your husband|
|What is new with work lately||How's your job at Inco.|
|What has changed in your life since we last met||How is little Angie doing at Harvard|
|How has your year been|
|What is new with your family|
Prepare for a conversation like you would an interview, as both the interviewer and the interviewee. Consider all relevant material (good questions to ask, good ancedotes to tell). The worst time to prepare is when you are face to face with a stranger. Some great simple ice breakers are:
Don't forget to prepare answers to typical questions like, "what describes you best", "personal motto", "hereos you admire", "what did people in high school think you were like", "what do you wish you could stop doing".
Do not forget about etiquette. Disclose comfortable, uncontroversial information about yourself. Provide easy, positive, bright information. Avoid gossip, personal misfortunes, cost of things and your health.
Start a conversation with a compliment
Nice hair, where did you get it done?, and then elaborate on why you like it. You can also look at behaviour.
|Assertive (Good)||Passive (Okay)||Please have the report ready by Tuesday||When will the report be ready?||I believe you can find that Bayshore||I would hate to direct you wrong.||I am sorry to interrupt||Can I interrupt you||I'll be glad to check with Sophia||I'll have to ask someone||I had a great time||I'll be honest, ...||Please spell that.||Can you spell that.||I can be there by 3pm||I cannot meet this morning||I would be glad to...||I would have to...||What is your name||May I ask your name|
The conversation feels more like an interrogation than a conversation. You fire question about question, instead of asking open ended questions.
You boast, embellish and brag. To avoid this, bring the conversation back to general topics like current events.
You always top someone else's story. You need to acknowledge the story instead of simply saying, "I know, one time for me ...".
Go into too much detail, and reveal too much. Try to talk less than 5 minutes at a time. If you are talking with a monopolizer, give them a white flag prior to just leaving, along the lines of "Just to let you know, I must take a call in about 5 minutes"
You think you know what the other person is going to say, so stop wasting my time and I will simply answer to what I know is about to be said. Interruptions are only excusable when you need to exit immediately, stop a monopolizer, or feel uncomforatable with the conversation topic.
Changes open ended questions into closed ones.