How to Have Better Conversations With Anyone
Think of the last conversation you had with someone you didn’t know. If the thought of it made you cringe, take comfort in knowing that you’re not alone. We’ve all been there, we’ve all had awkward conversations with strangers. Why is that? According to Dr. Gillian Sandstorm, a senior psychology lecturer at University of Essex, talking to someone new can be challenging and intimidating because it is uncharted territory. But it doesn’t have to be the end, courage is like a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it gets - don’t forget to exercise it.
1. Starting The Conversation
That feeling you have of wanting to start a conversation with a stranger (whether it be a girl you see that you like or at a networking event and you see a business director you want to get to know) "I'm in public, what will other people around me think of me?" "What if others see me get rejected?" "I don't think he/she wants to talk to me, I'll be wasting their time."
All of the above points is your brain making excuses to avoid taking the risk of starting the conversation, to protect the "ego" that cannot take rejection. You’re in your head thinking and making justifications... until you realize that rejection means NOTHING. After rejection, you literally have lost nothing and nothing has happened. You would continue to carry on with your day and still go to the grocery store, eat the same food, sleep in the same bed. There is literally nothing to lose.
Now if you start the conversation and there's a spark, you have EVERYTHING to gain (now that is an asymmetric return on steroids). Now also realize that everyone around you is having these thoughts - the desire to want to be able to meet new people but enslaved by their fear of rejection. So, if you are able to muster up the courage just for 3 seconds and start the conversation, you would’ve done what others were not willing to. Of course, you are going to stand out because people do not have conversations struck up with them often.
2. Keep The Conversation Going
Be curious! Ask questions - stock questions like - what do you do, where do you live, etc., are a good place to kick-off conversations but that’s not going to cut it. To have more meaningful and deeper conversations, ask questions from a genuine place inside of you where you actually want to learn about the person and not just asking questions for the sake of it. People can feel when someone is genuinely interested in getting to know them and authenticity is magnetizing. Here’s a tip: maybe start off with the simple things, after all, you are at the same place and experiencing the same weather (haha).
3. How To Stand Out
Talk about something that genuinely interests you - don't be like everyone else and have a dry conversation about Instagram, agreeing with everything that is being said. Speak what is true to you and what interests you. Dig to find out what genuinely interests them, the thing that makes their eyes glow up and you can hear the excitement in their voice when they talk. When you share what excites you and they share what excites them (whether you share common ground or not) - this is how you get to know someone.
So, the next time you’re at the bar or at a convention, exercise your courage muscle and talk to a stranger because you never know what you might get out of it.