I remember having painful conversation with a relative I didn’t know very well. It sounded something like this:
“How are you doing?”
“I heard you recently got married?”
“Um…where did you go on your honeymoon?”
“We didn’t have one.”
If you’ve been in this position, you know how difficult it can be to navigate and, forever after, it can leave you with a little niggling fear about experiencing The Awkward Silence again.
I wish I knew then what I know now. It would have made that particular moment in time a lot easier to deal with and to understand. Making small talk can be tough for some people and others don’t see the point in it at all. It’s not that they don’t want to talk, they just want to talk about something that matters. Something that they find interesting. Often, if you can find that kind of opening, the other person is more than happy to share.
When you’re having a conversation with someone new, you’ll be much more successful if you make it your goal to learn something interesting about them. Most people worry about what they can say to impress people, but you’ll actually be a lot better off if you let someone else shine. And the added bonus? They’ll like you better for it too. It really is a beautiful strategy.
So here’s a few conversation starters you can use to make chatting more fun for both of you.
- What’s something exciting that happened to you this week?
- What passion project are you working on right now?
- When you’re not at work, what do you love to do?
- What’s your favourite restaurant?
Notice that all of these questions require a little thought from the other person, so they aren’t just the standard (and boring) “What do you do?” kind of question, that gives you mindless answers.
They all also allow you to follow up with “tell me more about it,” which will make the conversation flow more easily, to everyone’s relief.
If you’re the one being asked a question, be sure you get the other person talking about themselves after you finish sharing. Follow up your answer with this little gem: “How about you?”
Engage your curiosity. Pretend you’re a reporter looking for the biggest scoop you can find about the person in front of you. Find some common ground and share your experience in that area too. As a result, you’ll find that you’re more comfortable, the other person is more comfortable and the conversation flows a lot more easily, without those awkward silences.
Improving your communication skills will boost your success. It’s the best investment you can make in yourself. So why not sign up for my newsletter and get communication tips conveniently delivered to your inbox? For FREE! Just click here. And as an added bonus, you’ll also get my video Silence Your Inner Critic, because the way you communicate with yourself matters too!