7 WAYS TO MAKE A CONVERSATION WITH ALMOST ANYONE
Think about this – every person in your life was once a stranger to you, until you had that first conversation with them. Every day we all meet strangers, people we know nothing about: the guy who sold you your coffee, the taxi driver, the receptionist at the company you visited. It’s only when we talk to these people that we make a connection with them, and through them a connection to more and more people.
SO, HOW DO YOU TALK TO STRANGERS?
A conversation is an adventure – it opens doors to people and things you never knew. It can lead to almost anything – a story you’ve never heard before, new opportunities, new friendships. All you have to do is open your mouth and say “Hi!”
The First Word
We’ve all had that moment – when you’re in a room and you see someone, a stranger, and you think “I want to talk to them”. But you just can’t get that first word out, it’s stuck in your throat! Here’s what you need to do: just say it! What’s the worst thing that can happen – they won’t talk to you? Well, they’re not talking to you now anyways. Once that first word comes out, the rest is easier. So keep it simple. Just say “Hi’ or “Hello” or “Hey”. And don’t forget to put on a big smile!
Skip the Small Talk
Time is precious, so don’t waste it with small talk. Instead of using small talk like “how are you?” “what do you do?” “nice weather we’re having, hey?” Just ask a really personal question. Don’t be afraid – you’d be surprised at how much people are willing to share if you just ask. So try this instead: “That’s an interesting name – how did your parents think of it? Is there a story behind it?” or “How long have you lived in this city and do you remember the first day you landed here?” or “Where do you come from and where does your family live?” The answers you’ll get from these questions are unique and always personal, so you’ll really be getting to know your stranger.
Find the “Me-Toos”
Nothing kills a conversation like a negative: “I’m from Frankfurt” – “I hate Frankfurt” End of conversation! When you meet someone for the first time, make an effort to find that one thing that you have in common. You’ll find that when you start at that point and move outward from there, the conversation will become a lot easier. That’s because you are both on the same side of something. But what could you have in common with a stranger? To start with you’re both in the same place at the same time – maybe you come from the same country, maybe you both like the winter, maybe you both can’t wait for the rain to stop. There is always something – you just have to find it!
Pay a Unique Compliment
People will forget what you do and forget what you say, but they’ll never forget how you make them feel. So be generous, go out and give someone a nice, full compliment! Try to think of something different – avoid words like “nice”, “awesome” and “cool” because we’ve all heard those ones before. Come up with something unique and genuine, and you don’t have to lie.
Ask For an Opinion
All of us have opinions, and we all want them to be heard. So go out and ask for an opinion – that’s when you open up a two-way street, that’s when the real communication begins. Don’t ask for someone’s opinion about a difficult topic, keep it simple: “How do you like your coffee?” or “When was the last time you watched a movie? What did you think about it?” REMEMBER: When someone gives you their opinion, really listen to what they say. Don’t listen to reply – listen to listen.
When someone is trying to communicate with you, the least you can do is be completely in that conversation. Just be there. And make sure you make eye contact. Then you will be able to really “feel” the conversation. Whatever you do – don’t spend the time looking at your phone!
Name, Place, Animal, Thing
Remember someone’s name and say it back to them. This is goes a long way to making them feel important. And don’t just remember their name – remember the other details too. The places they like to go to, the places they’ve been to, the places they want to go to, their pet’s names, the things they like, their children’s names and whatever else they share with you. Remember these little things about people, ask about them, be genuinely interested. If you do this then they will be happy to keep the conversation going with you.
So now you have 7 great ways to make a conversation with anyone, and you have 7 awesome reasons to go out and talk to someone. What are you waiting for?
This article was inspired by Malavika Varadan’s TEDx talk, you can watch the full talk here.