Guilty as charged, turning to one’s cell phone has become a common method of inhibiting conversation. Forming new friendships and bonds is a daunting task to begin with, but technology has made it even easier to avoid doing so, ultimately resulting in deteriorating social skills and, well, less new friendships.
While you may feel you are already in too deep, and you may firmly believe there is no hope in restoring your once-fabulous people skills, I beg to differ. Here are the ten best tips on how to embrace your inner-awesome and successfully meet and talk to new people.
1. Wait for the right situation to talk.
Right before class starts or in the supermarket aisle may not be the best place to begin a conversation. Walking in the halls at school, or while waiting in line somewhere, however, can provide ample time to carry out a respectable conversation.
2. Don’t wait for others to come to you.
A common mistake people make is believing that they do not have to be the initiators of conversation. With this attitude, these people tend to give off an unintentional egotistic or unapproachable vibe, which certainly drives others away from beginning a conversation. Being affable and easygoing and by taking a risk to initiate the conversation is a sure-fire way to get others to like you.
3. Remember that small talk doesn’t have to remain as small talk forever.
Many people avoid small talk as they deem it useless and believe that it doesn’t lead anywhere. However, this conviction is definitely false. While discussing the weather with a stranger doesn’t guarantee friendship, and though it’s nice to vary your questions from the ordinary “pick-up lines”, these conversations do open the door to deeper ones later on. After all, you wouldn’t immediately open up to someone you don’t know, so you have to start somewhere. Additionally, an article from linkedin validly states that “every situation is unique, so you should be able to find a unique conversation starter”, even if it still falls under the category of small talk.
4. Engage rather than anticipate.
It’s really obvious when the person you are speaking to has already prepared what he/she is going to say next in his/her mind. Conversation should be spontaneous and relaxed, and not primed ahead of time like a speech would be. If every single word is planned, a tense atmosphere is conveyed in the conversation, which does not allow free thought or a calm discussion.
It sounds super cliché, but smiling is truly the most effective way to attract others and entice them to engage in a conversation.
6. Start a conversation with a compliment.
Complimenting someone will increase his/her initial opinion of you and gives you an edge-up to others.
7. Adopt an open-minded attitude.
One article suggests that “you need to let go of self-conscious and judgmental thinking”, and I think this is very true. Narrow-minded thinking really restricts conversation and potential friendships.
8. Keep in mind the principle of “invitation and inspiration.”
In order to keep conversation flowing, this theory is very useful. It states that, in order, to provide an open door for conversation to continue, you must pose a question, an invitation, or state something that the other person can elaborate upon, an inspiration.
9. Make the conversation about them, and not about you.
Most people enjoy talking about themselves, and while this may tempt you to do the very thing, try to ask questions about the other person rather than talking about yourself for the duration. Though you may get a tad bored, at least your potential friend won’t!
10. Put away your device!
Invite conversation. Or initiate it. The only way you can put these skills into action is by taking a leap and putting yourself in a new situation, and I strongly urge you to do so rather than nervously avoiding potential conversation. It’s certainly not easy to do, but in the end, you’ll reap better social skills and maybe even some new friends.