A Guide to Making New Conversation

Photo by ZapTheDingbat

This is a how to guide to making conversation with new people. I present ideas, strategies and approaches that can help you only if you apply the techniques.

Make sure to use these principles and ideas out there in the real world. It may take a little trial and error but if you practice you’ll see it’s much easier than most people think to start a conversation with someone you are meeting for the first time. You’ll have much more fun talking to people and you’ll enjoy letting your personality shine.

Do bear in mind, the strategies presented here are a starting point, you’ll need to adjust your application of the individual tips to the context and people you are dealing with. Some flexibility on your part is essential.

Take it a step at a time, aim to improve just a little each day, use these strategies often and make a commitment to on-going learning with the free resources mentioned in the next section. Before long you’ll be one of those people others respect and admire. They’ll be wondering how you make conversation so easily!

Show People You Like Them and Make Friends with Ease

friends photo
Photo by Beegee49

Within the first thirty-seconds of meeting someone for the first time, we make many observations which we translate into judgments about that person we are meeting. Every human being does this. We do this naturally and automatically with little, if any, real awareness of this process.

This means that if we all do it, those we come into contact with are observing and making judgments about us, like we are about them. If you happen to demonstrate a disliking attitude this information will present itself within those first few moments, in most interactions.

For this reason we must know how we come across to people when first meeting them. If we come across in a positive way people we will attracted to us because, as in the law of physics, positive attracts and negative repels. If you want to show people you like them present your positive self.

1. To present your positive self requires you to pay attention to how and what verbal and nonverbal communication you use. The messages you send through both of these types of communication say a lot about your desire to like the person you are meeting for the first time. If you send any negative messages, within those first seconds, you may never get the chance to show them later that you like them. Remember, people will make judgments about you within the first thirty-seconds of meeting you, like you will them. Two of those first evaluations each of you will make is: “Do I like this person?” and “Does this person like me?”

2. Whenever showing people you like them it’s important to look like you are friendly. Appearing friendly can mean different things to different people, but most of us respond well to a smile and some form of a “how are you?”, no matter who we are. Most of us also respond to other positive statements as well, especially about things that relate directly to us. We all enjoy the feeling of appreciation. Compliments, mixed with the appropriate body-language, about someone’s appearance, for example, can send a message of liking something about that person.

3. One of the quickest ways to let someone know you are not interested in them is to make “me” statements. Avoid any form of a “me” statement, within those first few moments of an interaction because they can send the message that the other person is not the center of your interests. If the other person perceives that they are not the center of your interests they could possibly think that you don’t like them. Additionally, if you are talking about you it will be impossible to show the other person that you like them.

4. When you want to show someone you like them focus on them. Become interested in what they are saying or even doing. Attentively listen to them as they speak and become involved with their conversation. As they talk, paraphrase and ask them pertinent questions regarding what they are saying. If they are busy doing something and it looks like they could use some help, offer to help them. Both listening and helping are other ways to show people you like them.

The demonstration that we like someone can also be expressed in our concern for them. Most people like it when another person cares about them. Asking the person, you’ve seen in the store every morning for the past week, about their family or work are examples of concern for that person. The act of concern shows people you like them.

To wrap up, make a point of being positive, friendly and focused on the other person. Be concerned about their welfare and help them when you can. When you deal with new people in this way you’ll find that people warm to you quickly and they are keen to get to know you better.

How to Use Body Language to Read People Like a Book

speak photoWhen we first meet new people, we all feel a little awkward and self-conscious until we feel that we understand the other person a little. Until we can do that, we can’t work out what people think of us and that often leaves us in an uncomfortable position of uncertainty.

The key to getting comfortable again and to understanding other people, is to read the other person’s key body language signals; believe it or not, this is possible even from the very first few seconds when you meet that new person.

1. Eye contact is very important in communication, especially with new people. Good use of eye contact, which does not avoid others, does not stare and does not linger on certain parts of the other’s anatomy inappropriately, is a crucial part of getting to understand new people.

Appropriate eye contact shows respect and it shows that you are interested in interacting with the other person. How much eye contact to make differs between cultures but if you read the other person’s body signals correctly you will see how much eye contact to make by matching their degree of eye contact.

2. Posture says a lot about a person’s personality and mood. Slouching shoulders and a curved spine, as well as helping someone to develop round shoulders over time, says that they are depressed, down, and lacking confidence in themselves. That kind of posture can become a self-fulfilling prophecy as it soon begins to affect a person’s mood negatively.

3. The tilt of a person’s head betrays their mood too. A head which is balanced both horizontally and vertically on the neck oozes confidence and self-esteem. You will find yourself more inclined to listen to a person who has this kind of posture when speaking.

When they want to speak or make a particular point, the authoritative, confident person will usually lean their head forward just a little bit, but without encroaching too much on the personal space of their listener. If they tilt their head to one side while you’re talking, you can be assured that they are listening to you attentively and that they will be likely to give you time to speak and say what you have to say.

Of course, this position can change, and it should. No one position should be maintained for too long as that will seem unnatural and can be off-putting to the other person. If someone stays in one position and doesn’t speak for a long time, check: have they fallen asleep! That is the impression you would probably be left with!

4. The placement of a person’s arms says a lot about their personality and mood. Wild gesticulations will imply over-excitement or even aggression. You will feel most comfortable when you can see that the person you are speaking too is feeling comfortable too; therefore, look for arms that are held naturally at the sides of the body. They may also be held behind the back.

Either posture implies an open personality, a person who is feeling confident and who is ready to face challenges. If you upset or offend someone, watch out for their arms being crossed over their chest defensively. That’s a real giveaway that they are feeling hurt.

5. Legs tell you a lot about the person you’re speaking with, even when you have just met them. It’s quite difficult to get your legs to do exactly what you want them to do, so they say a lot about a person’s innermost feelings, even when they are trying very hard to hide them. Leg swinging and rolling of the foot at the ankle, or especially foot tapping, shows that a person is feeling irritated or impatient. The faster the movement, the worse their mood!

6. You will probably be able to sense right away if someone is deliberately angling their body away from you, even if you don’t consciously process that thought. People tend to sit angled towards and even leaning towards, people they like. This may not happen when you first meet someone, as they may wait a little while to gauge what you are like, but if they start to position themselves in your direction and lean in closer to you, then the chances are that they are beginning to like you.

So, even if you don’t know a person well, you can read their body language and adapt your communication with them accordingly.

How to Shine in Conversation with Listening Skills

listening photo
Photo by brittreints

Do you have good listening skills? Listening happens to be a key strength of good communicators. If you want to develop good listening skills, there are some steps you have to follow:

1) It would help if you feel empathy for the other party when you are listening. You will be able to absorb what the other person is saying better if you have empathy because the content will be close to your heart.

2) Empathy is also important because if you have empathy, you will be able to form an association between the knowledge you value in your head and the content of the message of the other person. Look for the deeper meaning people express behind the words they use and you’ll find commonality in values, opinions and outlook.

3) Avoid judging the delivery of the message and the person delivering the message, if possible. This allows you to focus on the content of the message rather than on the style of delivery.

4) You can rely on some techniques to improve your level of comprehension of a spoken message. For example, you can ask the other person to repeat his message or certain parts of it. Then you can rephrase the message content in your own words and ask the other party if what you understood is correct.

5) Maintain an active body state. If you are alert, it will be easier to fight any distractions that would prevent you from comprehending the message. 6) Aim to get as much detail as you can from the person about the message. This means asking intelligent and pertinent questions. Then restate the message in your own words so you can determine how much you absorbed and understood.

7) It helps if you are genuinely interested in the other person and the message. If you are bored (both with the person and the message), it will definitely show both in your body language and your replies. If you are not interested in either the person or the message, etiquette dictates that you excuse yourself politely and go somewhere else so that you will not waste your time or the time of the other person.

8) Ever heard the phrase ‘one touch is equal to a thousand words’? Well, basically what that means is, your body language can convey a lot of meaning. Study the body language of the other person so you can get the nonverbal cues he is sending. He might be irritable, sad, happy, or angry. All these emotions are subtly conveyed by his body language, not just by a spoken message.

9) To keep the conversational ball rolling, make an effort to ask the other party what his point of view or opinions are. Not only is this polite, you might learn something valuable in the process.

10) You should also let the other person know what your own perspective or opinions are. Aim to make these specific rather than couch them in broad terms so that the other party knows exactly where you stand. This will reduce instances of miscommunication.

11) If the other person has offended you somehow, be vocal about your displeasure but do not get angry. Control your emotions so that the situation does not worsen.

12) Maintain an objective stance regarding your reactions and the consequences of the actions of the other person. This means being able to take a step back and view the situation from an objective point of view.

13) Do not try to own the conversation by dominating the flow and ignoring attempts by the other person to be heard. Try to dominate the other person and you will find you will get fewer and fewer people who want to talk to you.

14) If the other party uses emotion-laden words, sieve through the message without reacting automatically to the emotion. This will help defuse a potentially volatile situation.

15) Follow-up any resolution to the situation. If you and the other party have agreed on something, schedule a second or even third meeting to smooth out any remaining rough spots.

These tips are just some of the ways to bolster your listening skills. Test these ideas and you will see the big difference they can make.

The Best Questions to Keep a Conversation Going

question photoYou’ve done the most difficult part; you have started a conversation and you have got some response from the person you are talking to. That is not the end of the need for questions within the conversation though. A conversation needs to be a bit like a tennis match, where exchanges go to and fro like the tennis ball in a rally.

You need questions to keep a conversation going. Questions help to progress the conversation and allow you to find out more about someone; they make it possible to gain understanding. And questions work well to bring in quiet people, to keep a lively conversation flowing and to include everyone.

Questions to Progress a Conversation:

These questions help the conversation along by relating to what you have been talking about and taking it to a greater depth. The question should be easy to answer, include everyone and not cause offense to anyone. Some examples would be:

If talking about sport:

  • What did you think of their last game?

This is particularly useful when you have established a mutual liking for a sport with the person that you are talking to. Perhaps you have even discovered that you both support the same team.

  • What do you think of their chances of winning this season?

Again, this is great if you like the same sports and at least know which team(s) you are talking about.

  • Have you got membership of a club or a gym?

This shouldn’t seem like you are suggesting they need one, but if you have discovered a mutual interest in keeping fit or saunas or something like that, you may find you belong to the same health club; or perhaps if you don’t you could progress the friendship by taking up a club membership together so that you will meet regularly doing something you both enjoy.

  • What sports do you like to take part in as well as watch?

This question is useful because you react quite differently to sports as a participant rather than simply a spectator.

If talking about pets:

  • Have you ever entered a pet show?

This is useful if the person you are talking to seems particularly proud of their dog, cat, etc. You can then go on to chat about the experience of participating in these shows or preparing the pet for it. It may even lead to some humorous stories along the way.

  • Why did you choose that particular breed?

People will love the chance to reveal the wonders of their particular chosen breed of pet.

  • Was your pet easy to train?

Again, this can lead to funny stories if you find that they have trained their pet in some way; it could be as simple as house-training; it doesn’t have to involve elaborate circus tricks.

If talking about fashion:

1. Have you got a favorite perfume that you tend to buy?

2. What’s your favorite clothes store?

3. Which celebrity’s fashion style do you like?

4. Have you got a favorite item of clothing that makes you feel really good when you wear it?

Fashion works well as a topic for women especially. It can lead on to talk of celebrities and/or embarrassing fashion mistakes. It should be light hearted and you may also find out you like the same celebrities who can lead on to a discussion of their art form or sport.

Talking about children:

People love to talk about their children. You’ll find this an easy one if you discover the other person has children.

1. What hobbies do they have?

2. Do they get on well with each other?

3. Which school do they go to?

Talking about food:

None of us can live without food and for most of us it is a real pleasure which will remind you of happy times.

1. What is your favorite meal?

2. Do you have a favorite restaurant?

3. What style of cooking do you like the most?

4. Do you have any favorite recipes?

You will see that some of these questions are closed questions which, strictly speaking, could be answered with a one word ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer; but realistically, because the topics are easy and because they are subjects about which people are likely to have an opinion about, they are likely to relax and say much more than one word.

Questions to Include Quiet People:

To draw a quiet person into a conversation you need to show some sensitivity; they may not like much attention drawn to them; they may not, however, speak, unless you address them directly by name, so that is a useful technique. Make the question an easy one to answer, such as ‘You saw that movie too, didn’t you? What did you think of it?’

Don’t put people under pressure to answer but if you use an appropriate question and leave a pause for them to answer, more often than not, they’ll answer. Good questions follow on from the topic being discussed and allow a person to give a simple answer based on their personal opinion, rather than requiring them to possess any particular knowledge.

10 Interesting Topics of Conversation for Every Occasion

speak photoDon’t panic! You can be interesting. Interesting topics of conversation needn’t be difficult to think of. Consider this: what makes a topic interesting? Isn’t it that people like to talk about it and that they have opinions on it?

Once you realize that, you’ll see that interesting topics of conversation come from everyday life and things that we all have in common. Then you’ll realize it’s not so difficult to think of them.

Don’t think you have to be controversial and go for risky topics like politics and religion; you don’t. In fact, to do so would be a mistake.

Whatever topic you choose should make people relaxed and happy to talk; controversial subjects don’t allow that. Think instead about what all people share: families, hopes, dreams, experiences etc.

Here are a few interesting topics of conversation to get you started:

1. Who is the most interesting person you ever met? You can see how this would easily lead people to voice opinions and ask ‘why?‘.

2. Where in the world would you most like to visit? This dream location may be shared by others and so it makes people feel solidarity, but also, people will be itching to ask ‘why?’ and keep the conversation flowing.

3. What has been the most life-changing experience you’ve ever had? Here, people can share funny and touching stories if they want to, which will help you get a deeper understanding of them. Likewise, if people don’t feel relaxed enough to give a heartfelt reply they can answer in an entertaining way and it all adds to the conversation.

4. What is the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done? That opens the door to all sorts of humorous and romantic stories.

5. Whose had the biggest influence on your life? Because this person has influenced the person you’re asking, they must view them positively and have strong feelings about them. That means they’re likely to enjoy talking about them.

6. What dream would you most like to make a reality? This kind of inspirational question always gets people talking and everyone’s usually happy to chip in with comments about people’s hopes and wishes. Just be careful when commenting that you don’t rain on their parade. It’s their right to have whatever hopes they want.

7. What is the best quality you’ve inherited from either of your parents? This is particularly interesting at a family gathering when people know the parents you’re talking about. It’s also a bit of a bonding experience, speaking favourably about your parents.

8. From which person have you learned most in your life? This is another uplifting, positive topic of conversation that usually gets people talking.

9. Which historical figures do you most identify with? This lets you know something about the other people around you; it also opens up discussion of the events these historical figures were involved in. Yes, potentially it takes you into dangerous waters of politics and religion but people usually take this question in the spirit of fun in which it’s meant, so potentially awkward moments are easily averted.

10. What kind of music do you like? You could then go on to talk of music you’ve bought or gigs you’ve been too. You might even ask: ‘what’s the most embarrassing album in your collection?’ That’s usually met with all-round hilarity!

These ideas should show you that interesting topics of conversation don’t need to be complex or intellectual, in fact, the more ordinary the better, because then people feel qualified to talk about the topic.

6 Easy Ways to Avoid Getting Stuck for Words

speak photo
Photo by HowardLake

Have you ever been faced with that tongue tied feeling of hopelessness? You most certainly are not alone. Nearly everyone will have at some time become stuck for words.

How can you stop this from happening? Simply follow the easy steps below. You’ll gain confidence and ensure you always know what to say.

Here are some great tips to stop that tongue tied feeling and loss of conversational skills:

  • Finish previous topics of conversation

That tongue tied feeling, more often than not can come from having a brain full of ideas, and not finishing previous topics of conversation. Make sure that you finish each and every conversation on your agenda.

Don’t leave it till your brain is a factory of unfinished topics of talk. This really doesn’t help you in making good conversation.

  • Observe before talking

Some of the best conversation makers are successful because they have the ability to listen, and not just to be listened to! So if you are feeling tongue tied and there’s a knot at the tip of your tongue trapping the words, sit back and watch how other people are talking!

It’s a short study period and will help you considerably in your method of approaching a conversation. Once you can see what people enjoy talking about its easy to re-join the conversation.

  • If it doesn’t make sense then don’t say it!

Half the time you get tongue tied, this feeling comes as you are talking nonsense that really is not relevant to anyone!

Make sure that the words are necessary and that the topic needs to be addressed. Just by following this simple method of untying your tongue you will maintain an audience of listeners.

4. Ignore those whose ears don’t tune in!

If their ears don’t listen then don’t be disheartened. The same way that you are struggling to be heard, there are people that struggle in the listening process! If your words are falling on deaf ears you can’t help it. Some people really are limited in thought and you can’t draw their attention span with your words.

5. Practice before you speak

Start putting in to practice the words that are in your head; perhaps you could ask a family member to sit down and listen to you before you decide to go public with the conversation.

By doing this you will have had a test run period, this will be a practice for the real thing (a stage rehearsal) helping you to focus and more importantly be focused on.

6. Before talking take a deep breath

A small change such as taking a deep breath of fresh air before talking will help you to maintain focus and remain head strong on the topic of attention.

Half the time when you start to go off road in your thoughts and the speech starts to become difficult to come out, this is a result of not being relaxed. This process of breathing in helps you to feel more relaxed, enabling you to remain focused.

Being tongue tied and losing your words in conversation really is a result of carelessness. If you can stick to the above tips and methods of untying your tongue then you can help to make sure that you don’t get lost for words!

Try to remember that thinking about being lost for words can lead you to the reality of being lost for words. Everyone gets tongue tied, and you really can’t have lived much without having that tongue tied feeling occasionally.

Stay confident, be calm and don’t let nervous thoughts fill your brain just focus on yourself and the words that you need to express!

What to Say When Introducing Yourself to New People

hand photoIt is said that first impressions are lasting impressions, so what to say when introducing yourself to someone can be critically important. You want to come across as friendly, yet not excessively so; talkative, yet not dominate the conversation.

Here are some ways to find a balance and introduce yourself in a way that gives a good first impression:

1. Mention a mutual friend

When you are in the situation where you want to meet someone but you’re unsure about how to break the ice, ask yourself if the two of you have a friend in common.

Even if that person is not there, you can walk up to the person and say, “Don’t you know so-and-so?” When they say yes, you can then use that as a springboard to introducing yourself to them.

2. Dive right in

On the other hand, if you see someone at a place (bar, social gathering, church meeting), and you do not know them at all, the direct approach can be the best. You just walk right up to the person and say, “How do you do? My name is (fill in the blank)” After that, you can then launch into what it is you want to talk to them about.

3. The business deal

If you are looking to talk to the person about a business matter, the key is to get to the point; you’re not going to win points by engaging in chitchat. Step up to the person, offer them your hand for a firm handshake, and say, “Good day, Mr/Ms (blank); my name is (blank). Could I speak to you for a moment?”

4. The flirt

When it comes to chasing a man or woman in a social setting for the purposes of a date, you want to be fun and flirty, but not lame.

In years gone past something like, “Hey, baby, what’s your (astrological) sign?” was the height of cool. A much better approach these days is the compliment. Or, if you’re in a museum or at a party or some other social setting, compliment something in the room.

In the case of the former, something like, “You have such lovely eyes.” Or if the person is very professional, “That is a sharp suit; where’d you get it?” would go down well. You can also always offer to buy them a drink.

With the latter situations, you could point out a very interesting piece of artwork in the room or some other pleasant feature and say, “That piece of art is lovely; what do you think?”

In a place like a bookstore, asking someone their opinion about a new book can also be a good way of introducing yourself to them: “I hear the new (blank) just came out. Have you read it?”

5. Reminding them

If you’ve met someone in the past, but they don’t remember you, the subtle reminder is what to say when introducing yourself to someone.

You could say, “I know you; we met at (fill in the blank).” If they don’t remember you, you simply tell them your name and mention details of your previous interaction.

6. Asking for directions

This can be most helpful when you want to meet someone in a totally generic location.

You see a man or woman in a diner, outside a store, on the street, and so on. With no hint as to their personality, stepping up to them and saying, “Excuse me, do you know where (blank) is?” can be a good icebreaker.

Next time you’re meeting someone for the first time; it can be an easy process. The key to knowing what to say when introducing yourself to someone is gauging the situation, and making use of these simple tips.

How to Stop Feeling Nervous When Meeting New People

Nervous photoIt’s understandable that you might be nervous meeting new people. After all, you don’t know them so you don’t know what they will think about you or how they will react to you. That can be a worrying thing.

However, there are plenty of things you can do to get over your nervousness and start to enjoy meeting new people.

  • Don’t feel you have to impress

You don’t. Have you ever met someone or maybe seen them on TV where they are trying really hard to impress? It’s just not impressive! This kind of approach appears fake and being fake will make people wary of you.

Remember that the people you are meeting are human too: no better or worse than you. They are also unlikely to be judging you as harshly as you fear!

  • Don’t go alone if you don’t have to

In many situations, it is perfectly reasonable for you to take a friend with you, unless it is something like a job interview or a professional meeting. Having a friend by your side can help because when things get difficult they can boost your confidence with a few words and maybe even just a smile.

The very fact that they are your friend and wanted to go with you to support you should make you feel better. It shows that you have good qualities that people like about you.

  • Take a few deep breaths and smile

You are in control of how you feel. You have the power to calm yourself down. You may be surprised that if you take a moment to breathe deeply that will release the tension in your body and clear your head.

Once you can think clearly, you should be able to see that the situation is not as threatening as you perceived it to be.

  • Go prepared

If you are nervous meeting new people, you may find that it is difficult to know what to say. Pre-empt this situation by preparing a few conversation openers or points you want to make. Write them on a postcard and take it with you to help as a prompt.

  • Dress comfortably

If you feel good about how you look, you will be more confident when you meet new people. You will feel that it is one less thing on which they could judge you negatively.

So, dress appropriately for the situation, and think about wearing favorite clothes or jewelry that you know you look your best in, or even buying something new for the occasion.

  • Stay true to yourself

This is not always easy to do, especially when you feel that the people you are meeting may not like you for who you are. However, you are going to have to live with yourself after this meeting, so regardless of whether people like you or not, it is much more important that you like yourself and that you are happy with how you behaved.

7. Accept that some people won’t like you

You don’t like everyone. You disapprove of the things that some people do. That is fine. But by the same token, don’t expect everyone to like you!

There will no doubt be people whose morals and opinions you dislike. That doesn’t necessarily make them bad people; they are just not your type of people. You are free to dislike some people and that does them no damage whatsoever. The same is true of people disliking you. It doesn’t do you any harm, and you may well not like the ways in which you would have to change yourself to get their approval. It’s not worth it.

Liking yourself is far more important than having other people like you, fortunately, if you like yourself, you are more likely to have people like you. That knowledge, put into practice in these few steps, should help you to not be so nervous meeting new people.

9 Great Ways to Confidently Approach Anyone

tips photoIf you are not confident by nature the simple task of starting a conversation with someone new is enough to start the heart racing!

Yes, you read it correctly! Cold sweats, heart palpitations, shaking and stuttering are just some of the effects that the faint-hearted can be faced with whilst starting a conversation.

This can all be avoided by following these simple yet effective tips to help your confidence soar.

1. Shyness doesn’t pay. Being timid and shying away amongst the crowd really doesn’t pay off these days. While sitting amongst your friends and listening to their conversations, teach yourself to not only be a listener but to participate more.

2. Make sure that you contribute and offer your response to the conversation. By doing this you will in time gain confidence to start conversation topics with strangers, not just with those you are familiar with.

3. Preparation is the key! One of the qualities that make a great public speaker is the simple yet effective ability to be listened to! While alone stand in front of the mirror, practice speaking, stand straight and tall, and talk at a good volume (not shouting).

4. An assertive voice of authority will help to draw people to listen to you. In fact they won’t have the choice not to!

5. Make all eyes on you! If the person that you wish to start a conversation with has their back to you, don’t wait for them to turn around: say their name or say hello to help draw their attention. By doing this you will help to get them listening to you. You will appear confident (even if inside you have butterflies)!

6. Revise beforehand! – I don’t mean turn into a nerd, you don’t have to write it down and take a pen to paper. However you can simply have a map of your thoughts in your head, with the topic of conversation clearly planned out. Then on opening your mouth the words will flow, you won’t be stuck in a mess of thoughts and ideas and you will be able to take the conversation just where you want it to go!

7. Communication is a YES! Learn to understand that the very way that you communicate with people will be the deciding factor of just how successful you will be in this life. Use every interaction as an opportunity to improve. The very skill of being able to start a good conversation will help to take your life to higher limits!

8. Sit and think is there any successful people in your life that are not able to start a conversation? Can you live your life in the shadows of others? See that success and happiness depends on being able to get along well with people.

9. Nerves are what you make them! Teach yourself that nerves really are what you make of them. Don’t allow nerves to escalate and hold you back. Many people have difficulty in starting a conversation with a stranger so don’t be so hard on yourself.

Every one struggles in conversation at times, if you are able to take note and learn the skills mentioned above then starting a conversation needn’t be stressful. Don’t be nervous. Learn that the people you are trying to strike a conversation with are probably just as nervous as you are.

Many people lack the confidence to start a conversation, or perhaps fear talking to the opposite sex. This is a very limited way of thinking, negative thoughts such as they will laugh at me, they won’t find me interesting, etc. are really just that. Be positive! Negativity doesn’t get you anywhere.

How to Approach Someone to Start a Conversation

  • Speak photo
    Photo by tcees

    1. Decide to like people

    Unless people give you a reason not to, assume that anyone you meet is likable and worth talking to. Popular people genuinely love meeting people. They enjoy getting to know new people and their default setting is: “I love meeting people”.

Very often shy people assume others do not want to talk to them or that they will be criticized when they share their thoughts and feelings. In other words shy people often paint such a negative picture of others that it becomes almost impossible to approach anyone.

Notice what is happening here. The reserved person is starting from a “I don’t like people in case they don’t like me” point of view. This negative outlook creates a barrier that stops anyone from starting a conversation – you or the other person.

Popular people start off with a very different outlook – “I like you unless you give me a reason not to like you!”

2. Know that your happiness does not depend on how someone else responds

Your happiness is entirely under your control. It does not depend on whether someone else is responsive to you. You might think you will feel terrible if people aren’t keen to get to know you. That is based on a false assumption – you assume happiness is about what happens outside of you but it’s not. Whether you are happy or not is a question of how you think and feel and has nothing to do with the reactions of others unless you decide to live with that false belief.

If you approach someone and you get a negative response it can only mean one of two possibilities. First, you need to improve your approach, and, second, that person is not interested in getting to know you right now in this moment. And that could be for many reasons that have nothing to do with who you are.

Decide that you are happy whether or not someone else is rude, having a bad day or too tired or hungry to spend time getting to know you. See that happiness starts with your own attitude and that it’s not dependent on the reaction of someone you have never met before.

3. Know the response you want and adjust your approach until you get it

This follows on from the points above. Always be objective about how you are doing. Never take failure personally, never take setbacks in a social setting as evidence that you are not worth talking to.

Imagine you are a neutral observer. What does this person see? What would he suggest to help you improve your approach? Notice what you are doing well and use that as the basis for on-going improvement.

If you want people to smile and laugh and it’s not happening its time to change your approach. Objectively review what you have been doing and then find a role model if you still do not know a better way to get a positive reaction. Find someone who always has people smiling and laughing. Then view his approach as a step by step process to copy.

You can always observe popular people and notice what they are doing differently to you. Copy what works and you will do much better when meeting people. Use an effective approach and you’ll be effective!

4. Forget about 100% success

When I first started getting much better at meeting people I had very high standards for how well I should do. And having a positive high expectations outlook is great. That is, as long as you know you will never hit perfection.

There is this fantasy in self-help that you can discover the one key approach that works every time in every situation with no effort whatsoever on you part. If you get that you’ll enjoy 100% success while living in a state of bliss that never leaves you! If this was true we would find evidence of it in the real world. Maybe if we looked at the lives of the most brilliant people to ever walk this earth we could learn this magical secret. Unfortunately the lives of the great leaders, creative and geniuses of the past show us that not even they enjoyed 100% success.

That’s why I’m saying to you to forget about 100% success. Aim to always improve and to enjoy seeing how good you can get but forget about hitting 100%.This attitude of always improving without demanding perfection means you are under much less pressure when you approach and meet people. Less pressure means less tension and when you relax you’ll do much better.

Finally, if your goal is to do your best and to improve you know you will succeed in learning something. See how a change in attitude means you can’t go wrong approaching people? You either do great or you learn something that helps you become great.