Monday, March 17, 2014

How to avoid struggling to make conversation

Have you noticed how people warm up to you when you are able to strike up an interesting conversation with them? I know some youngsters, though, who find it difficult to make the first move. "We don't know how to begin," they tell me. "And we don't know what to say."

Gretchen Rubin understands your pain. And that is why the best-selling American author has compiled a menu of "small-talk" options for those who struggle to make conversation. Here are the points she makes:
1. Comment on a topic common to both of you at the moment.
2. Comment on a topic of general interest.
3. Ask a question that people can answer as they please.
4. Ask open questions that can’t be answered with a single word.
5. If you do ask a question that can be answered in a single word, instead of just supplying your own information in response, ask a follow-up question.
6. Ask getting-to-know-you questions.
7. React to what a person says in the spirit in which that that comment was offered.
8. Be slightly inappropriate.
9. Watch out for the Oppositional Conversational Style.
10. Follow someone’s conversational lead.

Rubin elaborates on each point, with examples, here: "Do You Struggle to Make Conversation? A Menu of Options for Small Talk".
UPDATE (April 24, 2014): "8 Networking Conversation Starters That Work (Every Time)" — thank you, Tia Raina (Class of 2015), for posting this on Facebook.

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