How to Strike Up Good Conversations with a Stranger


Being in a party, a meeting, a seminar or any other gathering where you do not know anyone can really put you to nerves or even make you feel out of place. Or when you are traveling alone, bored inside the plane or bus, you want to do something else other than reading or listening to music. In all these situations, you might just want to meet a new acquaintance or introduce yourself to your seatmate and engage to a great talk with her or him. But if you think you got shaky doing so, you might find these tips useful.

Do the first move. Others may also be shy like you so they are also waiting for others to approach and talk to them. Or that they are too busy talking that they miss the shy ones. Then be the first to act. Don’t wait to be entertained. Summon all your guts, go up to someone who interests you and say the casual “hi” or “hello”. Or when you are in a public transportation, occasionally glance sideways until you find the right moment and can establish eye contact with your seatmate. Don’t forget to smile. A smile can make anybody likeable. It can also dissipate the hesitations or fright of the other.

Talk about neutral topics. When conversing to a stranger, it is best not to talk about subjects that solicit different opinions or those which can lead to debate, like politics, religion, sex, or sensational news. When in a seminar, talk about the event first and then later on to other topics. Men generally love to talk about work, sports, cars and technology. On the hand, women are more personal, so things about the family, lifestyle, fashion, and arts are great topics. This may not always be the case and so discover the things that interest your acquaintance and talk about them.

Do not be afraid to ask. There may be awkward moments, especially when silence fell – that you have run out of things to talk about. Just relax and refresh yourself. Recall his or her interests and dig deeper into them. Ask getting-to-know-you questions. Ask more and do not be afraid doing so as long as you do not appear like prying into someone’s private life. It is a fact that people love to talk about themselves, and they are willing to do that to a willing listener.
Moreover, ask open questions that cannot be answered by a single word to avoid those silent seconds.

Do not talk so much about yourself. Offer limited information. Let others be curious about you so that they can also ask questions about yourself. There are people who talks so much that they bore others. Remember that conversing is a two-way process; it is a communication between two people. So when you are only talking about yourself, then it would seem that you are delivering a monologue. Let’s others talk. If they are shy, urge them to talk. It is important to listen and ask so that you can motivate the other person to have a healthy conversation with you.

Watch your tone. Be careful how you modulate your voice. We may sometimes appear bragging when we do not intend to because of our tone. Or that we may sound like uninterested with the other. A humor can also be good, but unrestrained humor can make you look foolish. It turns off when we become either of the three. So always keep a casual, pleasant tone.

Observe signals. Watch for signs that he or she becomes bored or irritated with the topic. Certain gestures like a slight frown or twitching of the lip indicates uneasiness.  So when you observe such signs, find your way on neutral grounds again.

Show interest. Be attentive and curious enough with you acquaintance. You do not have to pretend to be interested. There is so much to learn from other people. Just open up your heart and ears. You can share a piece of yourself but it is also good to hear from others. Engaging in a fun and friendly conversation can be a learning process for anyone.

To sum up, a great conversation begins with us opening ourselves to someone, and then naturally urging that person to talk about his or her self, and he or she being curious with us as well in the process.

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