Conversation Skills Tips and Strategies

Strategies photoWhat is the best way to approach someone and start a conversation? That is the big question I am asked again and again. Sometimes people ask me to provide a script that will always work in every situation.

I’m sorry I don’t have a magic wand that can grant you this wish. I can however share some fundamental principles that do work every single time. Once you have mastered these fundamentals you will be relaxed and creative enough to start a conversation with ease even with a wide range of different people.

I discovered these fundamentals after years of trial and error followed by fascinating times observing and learning from true masters – those people who can happily approach anyone with a big smile without a moments hesitation.

Forgiveness

Forgiveness photoForgiveness is another essential quality to pay attention to because if we don’t let go of old resentments and suppressed anger we will over time create a wall between us and other people. Previous disappointments, failures and rejections can cause us to fear getting to know people and before we know it everyone is a potential source of pain, trouble and problems. Clearly, that’s a very poor formula for being at your best when you talk to people.

Like the other elements of the daily practice this only takes a minute or so each day. Simply ask yourself: who can I forgive today? Then, run through ten people you choose to forgive, for your benefit not theirs. There is no need to go into a lengthy analysis and a slow, difficult selection of who to forgive and why, simply pick ten, any ten, and run through them quickly. Your brain has all the memories stored away so, for example, if you decide to forgive Lisa, you know and your unconscious knows why, don’t bother diving into the repressed negative feelings from the past.

Do bear in mind that forgiveness is a selfish act, you forgive for your sake and being forgiving has nothing to do with helping or harming anyone else, it’s a gift you give yourself so you can be happier and more positive going forward and less cautious about meeting new people. The more you put the past behind you the less baggage and distortion you’ll bring to the present so you’ll be better able to see people as they are instead of cynically viewing people as potential problems if you don’t keep them at arm’s length.

After a few days of practicing forgiveness for a minute or so a day you’ll notice how much lighter and freer you feel as you forgive people who’ve wronged you in the past, this letting go is a great feeling. At this stage if you choose you can forgive people in the moment. Let’s say you get poor customer service instead of getting annoyed maybe you’ll choose to take a moment to silently forgive the person. Ironically, your resulting calmness makes you more effective at dealing with the situation since a calm mind produces better solutions than an angry one. When you live like this you’ll be a master of forgiveness and someone who quickly turns every annoying interaction into an opportunity to forgive and feel better in a matter of moments while still resolving issues that need to be dealt with.

And best of all, forgiveness allows the possibility of connecting with more agreeable people because you never shut down out of resentment and overwhelm after talking to difficult people. You are in charge of how you feel and how you interact so you can simply move on and meet friendlier people who appreciate and respect you.

Conclusion

In this section we’ve looked at four key elements which when developed together will make a dramatic difference to your ability to let your personality shine while also enabling you to connect much more easily with others. Kindness, gratitude, loving yourself and forgiveness provide the solid foundation you need to truly be at peace with yourself and others. A few minutes a day will make the world of difference if you follow this simple daily practice. Why? Because in time this practice cultivates new habits that form the basis of how you live and interact all day long.

I have an easy challenge for you. Practice the daily practice for the next 7 days. Take a few minutes a day and simply notice what happens. It might surprise you that something so simple once applied can make such a big difference in your acceptance of yourself and others and in your growing ability to enjoy talking and connecting with the people in your day to day life.

Then, if you continue with the daily practice, after a few weeks this new outlook will become habitual, it’ll becomes the new normal for you. If someone is rude, you silently forgive them in the moment and let it go while still asserting yourself when it’s necessary. If you notice that someone needs a helping hand you step up to commit an act of kindness, if you feel beaten up by the difficulties of the day you pause and notice who you are grateful for and immediately you start to feel lighter and more at peace. If you feel lonely or in need of a good chat you reflect on what you love about yourself, you start to feel happier and you feel that warmth that can fuel a good connection with whoever you choose to reach out to.

The momentum that builds from a few key daily actions is truly impressive. It’s the brick upon brick progress that creates magnificent skyscrapers, it’s the one word after another momentum that writes literary classics and it’s the note by note to record songs that are loved by millions. A simple daily practice can transform your ability to connect with people, all you need to do is perform the simple daily actions and let momentum take care of the rest.

For your convenience here is a summary of the daily practice.

Love and Connection Daily Practice:

1 Perform one act of kindness for a stranger 2 Who am I grateful for? List 10 people. 3 What do I love about myself? List 10 traits. 4 Who can I forgive today? List 10 people.

Love Yourself

Love Yourself photo
Photo by Viri G

This is a key element of the daily practice. The more you love and accept yourself the less you will need the approval and endorsement of those around you and when this happens you will be more relaxed, more present for others and less fearful about sharing your thoughts and feelings. The more you love yourself the more you will allow your true self to shine, you’ll be more expressive and your unique authentic personality will attract people to you.

For these reasons it’s very important to give ourselves love and approval and I recommend you take a moment each day to ask yourself: what do I love about myself? Keep going until you come up with ten responses and don’t worry about having ten profound reasons, any reason you love yourself is a good reason. You might find by doing this each day that many of the same reasons pop up and that’s fine too. What’s important is to train yourself to notice that you do care about yourself and to day by day love yourself a little more.

Here are some examples of what you can love about yourself:

– Hair – Eyes – Healthy body – Enthusiasm for life – Smile – Positive outlook – Willingness to support friends – Commitment to ongoing self improvement – Can do attitude – Sense of justice

When you do love yourself more and more you’ll notice that people respond to you differently, it’s as if there is an energetic glow about you that makes people keen to get to know you better. Even if they can’t put a finger on it people will find you more attractive for some reason, they’ll take you more seriously and treat you better. You’ll also tend to associate more with other people who value themselves, when you love yourself more you won’t tolerate poor treatment from negative people, you’ll gravitate to happier people like yourself. Your happier self will now repel the difficult people who you endured in the past and draw happy, positive people to you.

Sounds too easy, don’t it? Yes, it is simple and it works so well because there is a multiplier effect when you practice each element of the daily practice. Test it yourself and you’ll see how powerful it can be maintaining a simple daily practice that causes you to feel great and connected to other people.

Gratitude

Gratitude photoThe second trait to develop is an attitude of gratitude. And specifically, gratitude for the people in your life. You already have people who care about you, want the best for you and appreciate you just for being yourself. Unfortunately we all seem to get caught up in fixating on what’s not working, who’s let us down and what annoys us about the people closest to us. This then becomes a festering mess of negativity that pollutes our relationships and friendships while making us reluctant to get to know more people – why take on even more aggravation?

To counteract that negative outlook we will work the gratitude muscle, we’ll choose to be grateful for ten people in our life. This is very simple, ask yourself – who am I grateful for? Count out ten people. And it’s ok to have some or even all the same people on your list each day. And even better, you don’t need a good reason or a carefully thought out justification to include someone. Any reason is acceptable. Did someone at work help you to get your project completed on time? Are you grateful you have a brother? Did your neighbour give you a birthday card? You can see what I mean, any reason will do, and in some cases, you may even be grateful someone is in your life without even needing a reason.

This is so simple that many people will miss the whole point of this exercise. It’s only when you take a minute each day to consider ten people you are grateful for that you’ll see what this can do for you. You’ll feel closer to the people in your life and open to meeting more great people. In fact, anytime you want to put a little spring in your step, you can take a moment to ask yourself: who am I grateful for?

Kindness

Kindness photoThe first element of the daily practice is to perform one act of kindness for a stranger. This can be as simple as helping someone by opening a door, letting a busy mom with kids go before you at the checkout or smiling at a stressed out waitress and asking her how she is. It doesn’t matter how small or seemingly insignificant the gesture is. That’s not the point of this exercise; the point is to be on the look out to help just one person each day. And do it to give not to get. It doesn’t matter if the person you help ignores you or fails to even thank you. The reward comes in feeling you are connected to everyone you meet in your day and the knowledge that you can reach out and interact with anyone you choose to connect with.

When this becomes a daily habit you’ll notice you are like a superhero always on the look out to make a difference and you’ll also be amazed to see how many little opportunities pop up each day where you can make a difference for someone, you’ll ultimately stop seeing strangers as distant and removed but as people you’ve just not connected with yet. You’ll also gradually shift from being passive to being more proactive when you meet people, the mall will be a place where you can meet and talk to anyone, the city streets can become meeting places and anywhere you are an opportunity could present itself to show kindness for a stranger.

I guarantee you one thing. If you’ll help just one stranger a day with an act of kindness you’ll be happier and feel more connected to everyone. You’ll also notice that many people are craving for a smile, the chance to talk to someone or just to know that someone cares enough to notice them. When that realization hits you it becomes obvious that almost everyone else is just like you, stuck in that passive attitude of waiting for someone else to make the first move.

(Obviously only approach strangers in safe environments)

The Love and Connection Daily Practice

For a long time I’ve been fascinated by people who effortlessly mix with new people, make great conversation and still manage to relax and enjoy the moment. If only we could all do this! Well, the good news is that we can be better, much better at connecting with people, we can be more comfortable expressing ourselves and we can make a great impression on other people once we become more accepting of ourselves and others.

It all comes down to taking charge of how you feel and think when you are socializing. If you feel happy, relaxed and positive then it’s much easier to talk freely and confidently without self-doubt tripping you up. And that’s why I designed the Love and Connection Daily Practice, to give you a simple way to make steady progress in how you manage your emotional state while also allowing you to become more comfortable being yourself when you connect with other people. And yes, if you take a few minutes daily to follow this simple daily practice you’ll get better and better at connecting with people.

One word of warning. This daily practice goes deeper than a set of tried and tested conversation starters, it goes to the heart of what makes for great conversation skills, it’s the source that ignite friendships and relationships with the authentic energy that gets people talking and enjoying time together. Still, these fundamentals are not exotic, they’re not mysterious and they’re not complicated. For these reasons many people will miss the value of the daily practice. The magic is in practicing for a few minutes a day and enjoying the sure but steady progress that results in how you feel about yourself and others. It’s similar to how people might react when they see a movie star with the perfect body, they admire the end result but they don’t really want to see the simple fundamentals of daily exercise and diet that produced the magical results.

Be brave, take a few minutes a day for the next seven days to test this for yourself and you’ll notice you start to feel happier, more socially confident and more connected to the people in your life. And you may even notice that you’re happy before you interact and that you’re interacting to share that joy with others – that’s when the magic happens. It means you’ve started to acquire the warm glow that popular people take for granted, that attractive quality that draws people to you. Let’s get started and discover the four elements of the Love and Connection Daily Practice.

Inadequate Preparation

journey photoSocially active people turn up ready to have a good time when they attend a social event, they dress well, have plenty to talk about and they are in a good state of mind for meeting people. This is often the complete opposite of what socially awkward people do, they just turn up and hope for the best and then wonder why they get stuck for words. It doesn’t have to be like this.

Lack of conversation topics

A lot of what we have covered already leads us to the obvious but overlooked conclusion that quiet people get less practice meeting people and often turn up unprepared to discuss a wide range of topic with the people they do end up talking to. And this is why I stressed the importance earlier of taking a different view of what a conversation is about – making conversation with someone you don’t know is all about discovering if this person is a good match, a potential long term friend. With this in mind you need to prepare for conversation before the social event rather than hoping to wing it when you’re tense and nervous at the gathering.

Professionals are known for putting the time in when it comes to preparation, a dancer will practice for months for a two hour performance; an actor will memorize lines and rehearse for months before appearing on stage. When you see the stars perform in front of the camera it looks like magic, they are so talented, they just turn up and dazzle everyone with their performance. What you don’t see is the dedication to practice and the dedication to extensive and comprehensive preparation before a big event.

There is a lesson in this for all of us, to improve and to excel we need to practice and we must prepare before the pressure of the moment kicks in. If you’ll make a point of having a ready supply of current topic to discuss and if you’ll practice at home before you go out to socialize you’ll get better and better over time.

Do you often find yourself on the spot with no idea of what to talk about? Could you make a point of being current on a wide range of topics? Could you decide to always prepare before going to a social gathering?

Unprepared for meeting people

If you turn up at a gathering and hope for the best it is much more stressful than turning up knowing what to expect. If you are often nervous about social events, you could research the event beforehand. Find out what the venue looks like and as much as possible about the show, performance or event. The more informed you are the more you’ll know what to expect and the less anxiety you’ll have about walking into the unknown.

It’s also good to anticipate the crowd you’ll be part of. Consider who you know who is attending: friends, friends of friends and the type of people you’ll meet. This information will then guide your preparation so you’ll have interesting and suitable conversation topics to lead with. The more you prepare by removing uncertainty and doubt about the kind of people you’ll meet the more comfortable you’ll be about meeting people.

Do you usually worry about meeting people at social events? Do you feel out of control of what will happen? Could you decide to be aware of who and what kind of people you’ll meet before going to an event? What do they like to talk about?

Poor dress sense

While we have focused on attitude and interactions so far it is important to mention how important it is to dress appropriately and well when meeting people. Although we might sometimes forget, the clothes you wear affect how you feel about yourself and can boost or lower your self-confidence. We’ve all had the experience of wearing an item of clothing we absolutely love and feeling fantastic every time we wear it.

When it comes to how you dress you want to make it your goal to look your best and feel at your best. You want to avoid wearing anything that makes you feel self-conscious because of the fit or the unflattering nature of the garment. Instead, over time fill your wardrobe with clothes that suit you and boost your confidence.

Dressing well also has other benefits. You’ll receive compliments from people you meet, your posture will be better and people will take you more seriously. You’ll be listened to more and your opinion respected more simply because you dress well. For these reasons its important not to take for granted the importance of dressing for conversation success.

Do you often dress for comfort rather than to make a good impression? Do you neglect to dress in a way that boosts your confidence? Could you include dressing well as part of your preparation for successful socializing?

Physical comfort overlooked

Meeting new people can be stressful enough so we want to do everything we can to minimize other stressors that add to our nerves and worries about socializing. Consequently it’s advisable to eat well, get sufficient rest and avoid last minute rushing when you have an important and imminent social function to attend.

You want to be physically strong and mentally calm, that way you can focus on conversation without the extra nerves that a tired body can add to the mix. If you enjoy exercise, working out is a great way to stimulate and then relax your body while giving you a calm mind. Staying fit and healthy will give you the energy you need to enjoy socializing, to be completely present with people and the mental flexibility to adapt to a wide variety of people and topics.

For people who practice meditation, meditating is one of the best ways to calm your mind before getting involved in a situation that involves some stress. Even twenty minutes of meditation before meeting people will dramatically reduce the tension you feel and give you the mental clarity to enjoy the moment instead of over thinking all the things that could go wrong.

Do you get anxious and nervous when meeting people? Do you tend to overlook the role the body has in raising or lowering situational stress? Could you in future get your body on your side to ensure greater self-confidence and less nerves?

We’ve now reached the end of this breakdown of the ten negative habits that limit conversation skills. Make sure to read through this section again and devise a plan of action to make changes in those areas where you have scope for improvement. Aim for gradual but consistent progress and you’ll surprise yourself at how quickly your conversation skills will improve. In fact, the very next section will help you to ensure steady progress.

Timid Lifestyle

alone photoOver time many people become cautious and stuck in their own ways, they get used to being on the outside, close to the action but never in the thick of things. Often, shyness takes over and leaves them driven by fear and doubt. This is a lingering problem we need to address head on.

Rarely attend group events

A timid lifestyle often starts in an innocent way, you say no to an invitation to a party, you’re too busy to attend a gathering and before long you rarely get invited anywhere but not because people don’t like you but because they see that you’re reluctant to meet people and you prefer to avoid crowds.

What happens next can be a much bigger problem, you’re out of the loop so you no longer hear about what events are happening and you gradually become isolated. When this happens it can seem like a difficult and very stressful ordeal to get involved again in your social circles.

Sometimes it’s good to go to social events to stay in touch in people even when you have some reservations based on social fears. Stay socially active so that you don’t lose your connections with your current friends or lose the opportunity to meet more likeminded people. Remember, the social activity is not the primary function of the event, the main reason to attend is to be part of the social scene, to see other people and to be seen by them, to be in the right place at the right time to hear about other events that may suit you better.

Of course I still believe it’s good to be selective and choose events you’ll enjoy just be sure you don’t go to an extreme and say no to most opportunities to meet people. That can be a case of fear making the decision with DzI’m too busy!dz given as the excuse for not going.

Do you often say no to social events? Do you avoid large group gatherings? Could you decide to be more socially active to stay in the loop?

Habitual patterns of socializing

Although most people do it, spending your free time with the same people and only going to the same places can be a dead end. If you enjoy variety and new experiences make sure to take control and suggest new venues, new activities and new places to visit. That excitement alone can be enough to ignite great conversations with everyone enthusiastic about the new sights and sounds. This is a great basis for suggesting further excursions and for planning ahead for friends and family to join you.

The same applies to the people you spend your time with. Instead of waiting and hoping to meet new and likeminded people why not get your friends to invite their friends along to join your activities? This is another simple way to break out of the rut of always doing the same things with the same people.

Do you get bored of the routine of only seeing the same people? Do you crave more e variety in where you go and what you do in your free time? Could you take charge of going to new places and meeting new people by leading your friends?

Avoiding the new and unknown

In an earlier section I talked about the importance of seeing new places and doing new things as a way of developing flexibility and the ability to adapt to new situations and people. Now, I want to address the fear that underlies avoiding the new and unknown.

Quiet people very often avoid the new and unknown because they feel safe in their day to day routine. There are less people challenges to deal with and they can avoid dealing with people they don’t know if they stay safe in their own world.

This seems like the comfortable choice but again it’s fear of people that is making the decision and your world gets smaller and quieter the more you listen to the fear. Plus, the more you stick to your established routine, the harder it becomes to try new things and to meet new people. What was once a little uncomfortable at times can over time seem like a huge and insurmountable challenge that you can’t deal with. For this reason it’s good to realize that the long term consequences of avoiding change, new experiences and new people can be far more serious than dealing with the trial and error that is needed when interacting in the real world.

Feelings of isolation and not being understood will become common place if you fail to embrace opportunities to enjoy the new and the possibility of meeting people you can connect with.

In contrast, popular people actively seek out new experiences, new venues and new people. Those socially confident people you see also have fears of rejection and embarrassment to deal with but it doesn’t stop them getting out there to meet people. The only difference is their determination to focus on the positives that out weight any awkwardness they may feel from time to time.

Do you avoid new experiences because you don’t know what to expect? Do you let conversation fear override the possibility of meeting great people? Could you decide to take small risks in opening up to new experiences and new people?

Never lead the group

Quiet people rarely if ever lead the social group. They prefer to stay in the background, agree with the consensus opinion and do anything to avoid rocking the boat. This is not a bad course of action most of the time but if you never express your own opinions and never, ever lead the group then you may become taken for granted. You become someone who everyone can count on to go along with the group, which is good, but at the same time your objections or voice is rarely heard or acknowledged by the other members of your social circle.

This is not a situation that allows you to express yourself or feel valued and appreciated for your unique input. However you can make small changes over time to become a more involved and respected member of the group. Start by expressing your opinion more often, speak up more than you have in the past on minor issues of discussion and especially regarding matters you have knowledge and experience of. Once your friends have adjusted to your newly expressive and more involved persona you can occasionally lead the group, again, on minor matters.

At this point you might be comfortable with the progress you have made now that you are a more active and leading member of your social circle. If that is the case it’s perfectly acceptable to settle into that new role, relax and enjoy time with your friends. Whatever you do, don’t push to be more of a leader and driver of the group than you want to be, find a balance between being involved and suiting your quiet personality.

Do you tend to take the back seat and let friends take charge? Do you feel ignored and unappreciated? Could you gradually get more involved, speak up more and contribute more?

Reactive Behavior

reaction photoQuiet people habitually let others take charge, they get so used to reacting to what everyone else is saying that they forget they can choose to be more assertive and to lead the conversation. This is an important skill to learn.

Never initiate gatherings

This is a classic habit of people who have an aversion to socializing, they rarely if ever arrange get together with friends, they don’t bring the party to their home and they don’t arrange a lot of group activities. They tend to go along with what has already been organized by their friends even if they’d prefer to do something different, they don’t speak up and suggest alternatives and instead passively follow along with everyone else. Then they get agitated or seem disinterested because they are in fact bored and don’t enjoy the gathering because it’s not what they really wanted to do.

Popular people on the other hand do the very opposite. They decide what they’d like to do and find some friends who would enjoy the same activity. This way the instigator knows he will have a good time and looks forward to the event, socializing becomes fun and he wants to do more of it not avoid it. The key is to sometimes be the one who takes charge and leads everyone else, by doing this you get to be the one who designs the day out or evening with friends, once you get the hang of this you’ll see socializing as the high point of the week not as a series of boring events you’d rather miss.

Do you tend to be reactive about meeting friends? Do you rarely organize social gatherings? Could you decide to be more proactive about driving your social life?

Rarely approach new people

Another classic reactive pattern is the tendency to rarely if ever approach people. DzOnly speak when spoken todz may or may not have sounded like a good motto when we were children but as adults if everyone does that no one would ever talk to anyone. This waiting and hoping someone else will take the initiative has a number of pitfalls. It means you can potentially get stuck in dull conversations with people you don’t really want to talk to simply because they approached you and you are unable, because of fear, to slide away to approach and talk to someone else.

When confident socializers look around a room they see possibility, they look for interesting and friendly people to talk to and they quickly move on over there to speak to that person that caught their eye. But you miss out on the best conversations when you play a passive role and hope someone else will take the lead. If you’re lucky you’ll end up talking to someone interesting, if you’re not, you’ll end up alone or stuck with people you don’t want to spend much time with. Bear in mind, conversation skills are secondary; who you talk to is more important when it comes to having a great conversation.

If you choose easy targets, people who appear happy and relaxed, it’s much easier than you think to meet new people. Avoid the clearly stern or difficult people and you’ll rarely have to deal with the nightmare scenarios you might sometimes worry about.

Do you rarely start conversations with people you don’t know? Are you interested inmeeting friendly people? Could you decide to selectively approach apparently happy people?

Always waiting for the right moment

Another common issue that arises with a passive approach to meeting people is that you spend your life waiting and hoping instead of doing what you’d really like to be doing. This is a very limited experience of life, you stop asking yourself what you want and simply wait to see what shows up.

There are many problems with this approach and typically it means you end up getting involved in social activities you don’t want to attend, you socialize with people you don’t want to meet and so you often feel bored and dissatisfied. You then start to avoid opportunities to socialize and arrive at the mistaken conclusion that you don’t enjoy meeting people at all when this is in fact incorrect.

The only problematic issue here is one of passivity. You need instead to decide what you want and go for it. Who do you want to spend time with and what activities would you enjoy? Would you like to meet new people with common interests and values? Where would this happen?

Not surprisingly, this is exactly what people with active social lives do, they focus on activities they enjoy with people they enjoy talking to. Clearly, taking charge is the key.

Reluctance to take control

One final drawback of the reactive approach to interacting with people is the tendency to not control and direct the conversation. Quiet people often let others take charge and end up talking about whatever everyone else wants to discuss, you then end up being pushed one way and then another based on the whims of whoever is driving the conversation.

As a quiet person you may often feel bored and unappreciated in conversation, you wonder why you bother to meet people and you feel dissatisfied and ready to go home to do something more enjoyable. This is completely understandable but the problem is one of attitude rather than just poor conversation technique.

When you are actively involved in a conversation you have a choice, let the other person take charge and react to whatever happens or decide to be proactive and drive the conversation. This is a slight shift in attitude but the consequences are significant. With this new outlook you can choose to introduce new topics, change the direction of the conversation and even end it if you prefer. When you are proactive you’ll be more energetic and more engaged in the conversation as an active participant rather than as a sounding board. You’ll get to choose topics of interest to you and you’ll have the satisfaction that comes from creating a mutually enjoyable conversation with your companion.

Do you habitually let other people take charge of the conversation? Would you like to talk more about what interests you? Could you make a point of being more proactive so all parties can enjoy a mutually satisfying interaction?

Limited Opportunities for Practice

When it comes to conversation skills people with scope for improvement often share the same problem, they simply don’t get enough practice and without more time spent meeting people it is very difficult to get better. Let’s look at what you can do about this.

Rarely meet new people

If you can relate to the points I’ve made already it’s highly likely you avoid meeting new people or at the very least don’t make a point of meeting new people each week. Again, this is the opposite of what people with good social skills do. And, not surprisingly there is a natural consequence to this habit – people who rarely meet new people have less practice maintaining and improving social skills while socially active people maintain a high degree of skill and a high degree of confidence and readiness to socialize with friends and strangers alike. Over many years this results in one person being shy, cautious and unsure of what to say while another is confident, outgoing and liked by a wide range of people because of how easy it is to talk to him.

If you tend to keep to yourself and your small network of friends and family you’ll be safe and comfortable in your own world but you’ll never have sufficient opportunities to practice and develop your social skills and you won’t have enough chance encounters to meet good matches, people you can build lifelong friendships with. So, the solution to great conversation skills is quiet obvious when you look at it like this, you need to regard meeting new people as a positive experience: a way to meet matches and a way to develop your social skills based on a self-confidence that’s unshakeable because it’s based on skills not pretense.

Do you avoid meeting new people? How will you improve your conversation skills without practicing? Could you view meeting people as the way to gradually developing confidence?

Sticking with friends

A related habit is sticking to what you know and who you know. While it’s great to have an established group of close friends and familiar places you enjoy it can become so comfortable that you choose to avoid visiting new places whether that be different social venues, towns and cities, or even countries. Over time you can become overly cautious and set in your ways, this creeping normality then becomes the only way you live – you only go to a narrow range of places, and have the same conversations with the same group of people. While this is very comfortable and familiar it can also mean you are stuck in a rut.

If you want to expand your social life and cultivate social skills and confidence there is no avoiding the reality of what needs to be done – you need to sacrifice some of that established routine with the same friends and open your eyes to new places to go and new people to talk to. At first, this can seem daunting so it’s best to make the changes slowly and gradually. Maybe visit a new cafe or a new restaurant with a good friend just to change your typical routine. Then, another time you might sign up for an adult education course to learn a new skill you are interested in as well as to meet new people.

Start small, maintain your existing social circle, and over time proactively do new things to meet new people and you’ll find you get used to having new experiences to look forward to and eventually you’ll find it exhilarating rather than nerve wracking.

Do you spend most or all of your free time in the security of your established social circle and routine? Do you see how you are limiting the possibilities of meeting new people? Will you make a point of going to new places to meet new people either with or without a friend to tag along?

Avoid new places

While I touched on this issue in the last section I want to cover this in more detail because sticking with the familiar is a typical habit of the shy and socially timid. When you get into an established routine and only go to certain stores, cafes, restaurants and only vacation in certain destinations or types of resort life can seem very comfortable and safe but inadvertently you’re weakening your ability to handle novelty and you’re losing your natural ability to handle new situations and new people. For this reason it’s important for anyone looking to develop great social skills to mix it up a little.

Get in the habit of having new experiences in your life on a weekly basis. You don’t have to go it alone either, take a friend or partner with you but do make a point of getting used to experiencing and adapting to new situations and people. When you do, you’ll become more flexible in how you deal with people and more open to positive new encounters, you’ll lose rigid ideas about how people should behave and it gets easier and easier to adapt to whatever crops up during a conversation.

Again, it should be no surprise that this is exactly what socially confident people do, they get way more practice than a shy person and that’s the main reason why they have such good people skills. There’s nothing magical about it and thankfully you can copy their approach and improve your conversation skills little by little and even have a lot of fun going to new places and doing new things at the same time.

Do you tend to stick to your routine and avoid visiting new places? Could you make a point of introducing more variety into your life? Could you treat practice as essential to building good social skills?