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If you could hear the things that people confess to me as a Communication Coach [which I will NEVER share under any type of torture], you might be surprised how many people [who appear to be perfectly normal extroverts] dislike networking. I hear adjectives like “awkward,” “slimy,” “fake.”
Feeling this way means you’re doing it all wrong!! Stop that right now.
Enjoying yourself at any social event happens naturally when you become adept at the Art of Conversation.
Mastering the Art of Conversation, involves knowing exactly what makes just talk a conversation rather than a rant or a monologue. With this knowledge, you can totally be a popular People Connector which happens to be a lot of fun.
A conversation has three easy, essential parts:
1. Conversation starter
2. Give and take
If you want to continue the relationship, you want to FOLLOW UP and do it again: start the conversation, give and take, exit.For people who feel awkward starting conversations you need this one great TRUTH. Everyone is a bit awkward and no one is paying close attention. Click To Tweet
How to Start a Conversation
The menacing barrier you perceive actually lies entirely in your brain.
Just walk up to someone and say “hello.” Then ask, “What brings you here?” or “How do you know our host?” or “How’s it going?”
The other person, now relieved of his own anxiety, will feel eternal gratitude toward you.
If it seems like EVERYONE else is engrossed in the most fascinating conversation ever held, then interrupt. Make sure you apologize for interrupting. They will then incorporate you into the conversation- if it was a good one, or start fresh with a new topic.
You may be familiar with Robert Cialdini’s work on Influence. He’s the alpha and omega on changing people’s minds. Or, you may remember from reading my article, The Most Persuasive Word Ever, that you can plausibly explain anything by using the word “because”. As long as you’re not in a court of law, “because” will lead others to forgive you.
I’m sorry I interrupted but this looks like such an interesting conversation. [The “because” in this case is implied.]
I’m so sorry to interrupt but I couldn’t help myself because you look like such interesting people.
…because you are so well dressed.
…because I feel awkward and you all seem to have your shizzle together.
…because I’m learning to break out of my comfort zone and try a conversation with you.
Bam. The Conversation has started! Cue in the Hallelujah chorus.
Conversational Give and Take
In this part of the conversation, you avoid two extremes: you are neither a M6 or Mossad interrogator nor are you on stage at the Comedy Club giving a 30-minute monologue.
Ask interesting questions. Here are 25 you can use.
If the other person falls on the range of normal on the socially adept scale, she will answer your question and return with a question for you.
In my experience, there are a few people who never ask a question back. I never knew if it was because they secretly wanted me to go away or because they didn’t have my list of handy conversation starters.
They could be conversational narcissists. Yes. That’s the person who always flips the conversation back to himself. Or herself. It’s similar to the One Upper, but conversational narcissists sometimes operate trying to establish empathy by sharing their experiences, but end up talking about themselves way too much.
In either case, it’s time to say “good-bye”.
Time for a Conversation Exit
Introverts never leave home without a conversation exit plan. Click To Tweet It’s something everyone should have.
After a bit of conversation, you probably have two paths: exit and hope you never see this person again [unlikely] or continue the conversation one-on-one at a later date.
So either you say something like, “Well, I certainly don’t want to monopolize your time, have a great evening. I enjoyed chatting with you.”
Or “I’m sure you’re here to meet other people. I so enjoyed our conversation.”
If you want to continue the relationship, ask for the card or exchange contact info on your phones and set up a coffee/drink date for later.
There you have social skill in your hand: start a conversation, give and take, exit. Rinse and repeat. Build a network. Be a thought leader. Reach out and touch somebody.