We’ve all been in situations like these: walking into a roomful of strangers (felt more like a den of lions though) and wanting to start a conversation with somebody, anybody so that we too could feel a part of it all. For some of us, this is a slightly scary situation. Call it a lack of conversation skills or a shaky self-confidence: breaking the ice with a stranger is not easy. But hey, good things in life rarely are. So here are seven tricks that can go a long way in making you ace a conversation with anyone, anytime…
1. Smile, greet and break the ice
We very often get confused about the conversation before we start – how do we approach a stranger? Frankly, it’s simple. You paste a genuine smile on your face, walk up to the person or group you have been eyeing and simply say hello.1 Make sure the person, or the group you are walking to, isn’t already engaged in a conversation. Wait for a break and then dive in with gusto.
2. Keep the small talk to a minimum
Conversations that involve too many formalities or small talk die down pretty quickly. Cut down the how are you’s and I am fine’s down and simply ask a personal question instead. Ask the person where he or she is from, or how are they finding the weather or even where they work at… A question will give rise to an answer and so on and so forth….
3. Make people feel happy about themselves
People may not remember what you said or how you approached them, but they will always remember how you made them feel. Paying a genuine but unique compliment is one way to make sure that they remember you, for you made them feel good about themselves. Make it a genuine compliment and a unique one, ut don;t gush lest you come across as a sycophant.2 Don’t pay the banal compliment of you are so beautiful. Try something like – that purple dress is really bringing out your eyes; they look luminescent…
4. Ask a simple, uncomplicated opinion
As is with a question, you can also ask someone their opinion about something. If you’ve met at a conference, ask them how they found the speaker. If they are nursing a cuppa, ask them if the coffee is any good. Make it a simple opinion but, don’t assume that everyone shares you political or moral interests or has anything to say about the latest economic fiasco.
5. Try and find some common ground
If a person opens up to you and shares any personal details; try and find some common ground with him or her. Negativity will kill a conversation, but a “me too” will breathe in new life. By finding a commonality, you are aligning yourself with the other person and subtly telling him or her that you are on their side.3
6. Pay attention and be present
When a person is talking to you, really listen. Pay attention to what the other person is saying or feeling and understand their viewpoint thoroughly. Make eye contact while they talk to you, or even when you are addressing them – this tells them that you are into what they are saying and find them interesting.
7. Remember the details
Finally, you’ve had that first conversation. To make the second conversation and furthermore interesting, remember the little details about that person like his name, hometown, children or pets. The next time you remember a detail and talk about it, the person will know that you are genuinely interested in him and is likely to respond positively.4
So these were seven unconventional tips to really help you have meaningful and successful conversations be it personally or professionally… Happy conversing!