In a world increasingly dominated by social media presence rather than actual human connection, knowing how to converse with strangers becomes a valuable skill. In this article, we outline 8 steps that can help you master the art of conversation with friends, family and even, strangers.
Before now, starting a conversation with someone was a regular thing that just happened. Back then, technology wasn’t very developed, so people had to make physical and emotional connections with as many people as they could meet. It was simply a good way of being human and retaining one’s sanity. Today, face-to-face conversations with friends and family, even neighbors are becoming increasingly difficult as people now prioritize online discussions.
So, you’re thinking, “How exactly can I start a conversation with almost anyone?” It’s not rocket science, as conversations are a vital piece of life. However, there are certain factors to take into account when talking to someone outside your social circle. Conversations are like fire; first, you have to ignite the sparks of the conversation and fan the flames for the right discussion, else you end up burning down the pyre of connection.
Here are 8 solid tips for aspiring conversationalists:
The First Word is a Floodgate
Yup, it’s that simple; say the first word. Do you realize that everyone you know now was once a stranger? Sometimes, we tend to forget that; when in fact that’s the beauty of starting a genuine conversation. Understand that the first word is your first impression of another person. Depending on what you say, your first words will naturally steer the conversation in the right direction.
Now, you’re sitting across a room watching that one person you want to talk to. It may be that lovely lady across the street or some guy who might be a good mentor for what you do. The premise for the conversations doesn’t have to matter just yet; all you have to do is summon up courage and speak the first word. Simply walk up to the stranger and say hi, and let the discussion flow.
What’s the worst that can happen?
Skip the Small Talk | Deepen the Conversation
Okay, now that you’ve got that person’s attention, how do you make the conversation memorable? Simple, skip the small talk and go straight to the point. Be honest with yourself, if a random person walks up to you and starts speaking about the weather, or rambles on about politics and whatnot, you’ll feel uncomfortable.
Exactly, this is why you state your intentions early on in the conversation. Skip the small talk and ask a personal question. We’re all humans, and as such, we always crave an outlet for our thoughts and feelings. Try this out; start a ‘real’ discussion with that stranger; ask where they’re from, what they do for a living; you’ll be amazed by just how freely they open up to you.
Find the Me-Too | Make the Connection
We, humans, crave a unique connection. The individual within us always longs for the attention of another individual, whether that’s through intimacy, childhood bond, or genetic relations. We are always in search of a genuine connection with other people. The same principle applies to conversations. When you think about it, we only have discussions with people who share something positive in common.
Nothing kills a conversation like negative vibes. When you find a me-too connection with a person, the conversation goes a lot smoother. It could be something as minuscule as loving the same sport, or simply having the same taste in fashion. Once you find a common ground in the conversation, you and that stranger will get along nicely.
Pay a Unique Compliment
Be generous, especially with compliments. People may forget what you do or say, but they will never forget how you made them feel. Why, because feelings are a lot stronger than memories. So go out there and give someone a nice, full compliment. And don’t only use regular words like nice, beautiful, etc. These are compliments that most people are quite immune to. For example, a gorgeous woman may not react to words such as ‘beautiful’ because she hears them a lot. But if you take the time to admire her closely, you may find her personality or her outfit impressive.
Compliment the oddest things about a person, things they usually wouldn’t notice, and you will receive a similar complementary response. Remember, you don’t have to lie; you only have to be genuine with your compliments. It works wonders all the time.
Ask for an Opinion
We all have opinions, and we all want them to be heard. Everyone wants validation. We go about our daily lives finding people who share our beliefs in life. When we do eventually find someone, the feeling of joy is unmatched. The same applies to a conversation. Once that person realizes that you are genuinely interested in what they have to say about politics, entertainment—anything really—they open up to you in ways unimaginable.
Just ask something simple. Don’t go asking an essay-grade question about the movement of the cosmos. Rather, ask their opinions on the coffee they’re having, the movies they enjoy, or their favorite recreational spot. This way, the conversation progresses naturally into a keen long-term friendship.
Be Present in the Discussion
The most annoying and disruptive thing that could happen in a discussion is when the other person seems disinterested in what you have to say. We’ve all been in situations where we’re pouring our hearts out and the other person’s just scrolling through their timelines. Doing this can reduce a person’s respect for you; you don’t want anyone you converse with to feel unappreciated.
When talking to someone, be wholeheartedly present within that discussion. From time to time, maintain eye contact when you speak. This way, the other person feels comfortable sharing their opinions and thoughts with you, without feeling regretful afterward.
Develop a Genuine Interest in the Person
In the hope to master the art of conversation please understand; these tips aren’t for manipulative purposes. Whomever it is you choose to speak with must be someone you are genuinely interested in. Most times, people wear their hearts on their sleeves, but at the same time, you’ve still got to show a level of commitment to get the best from them. So, next time you talk to someone, develop a genuine interest in their personality, what they say, how they act; and you both will stay friends for a long time.
Be An Active Listener | Truly Listen
If we had to pick one out of all these tips to master the art of conversation, it would be to truly listen. The best conversationalists in the world rarely talk. They are skilled active listeners. Great conversationalists monopolize listening, not speaking. So make it a habit to listen more and talk carefully. The best conversationalists are soft-spoken speakers. They pay attention to what the other person is saying and only interrupt when they need to. Humans are expressive beings, we love to share our thoughts with others. So if you genuinely care about a person, listen to what they have to say, give them that feeling of support, and they will be comfortable being vulnerable with you. If you must criticize, do it with love and care; not by scolding.
Master the Art of Conversation
A simple conversation can open doors to many opportunities. If you’re naturally introverted or just want to open up more, speaking to someone of interest is a good place to start. You should never be scared of starting a new conversation, especially with strangers. The world is filled with billions of individuals, with each person having a unique vibe. Think of it this way, everyone holds a piece of the puzzle called life. Gather each piece to make sense of the picture. Make sure you are attentive during discussions. More importantly; always be a genuine, caring, and loving listener.
If you want to dive deeper into each of these concepts, check out How To Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
Check out our previous Wellness & Self-Development article here.
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