I remembered watching a video sometime ago by Malavika Varadan. In the video, Malavika proffered ways that we can initiate a conversation with anybody and that forms the basis of this write-up. She defined a “Conversation” as links.
Every time you talk to a stranger or get anyone engaged in a conversation, a mental link is formed. This mental links that is formed gets stronger and stronger after every conversation you have with that stranger. In the course of our daily engagements and activities, pursuit of our daily bread, happiness, job fulfillment and satisfaction, we get to meet quite some number of strangers every single day that we could as well refer to as our “neighbours”. It could be the grocery guy you approached, or the Cab guy that drove pass you, or the receptionist in the office you visited today, or maybe the paper guy who came around the neighbourhood today. In every conversation we make or initiate, we build a new link. As we keep building these links, by so doing, we end up building a world wide web of conversation.
A Conversation is an adventure. In fact, initiating conversation with anybody opens up our mind to things we never knew before and gives us a whole new perspective. It defines who we are as humans and it’s so fascinating! The truth is, everyone in our lives right now (our friends, our spouses, classmates, roommates …) were all once stranger to us at one point in time. Our built relationship with them now is a consequence of that first little short conversation we both had years back.
Life is all about people! Life is all about connection! We establish connection as we talk to strangers, relate with friends at the work place, in the market, at school, etc.
Conversation gives us the opportunity to establish connections and engage with people around us. We know there are strangers are everywhere. But how do we talk to these strangers?
You’re sitting down in a bus and someone is sitting beside you; you have a five-hour journey to go through; would you just keep quiet and play the silence game? No! You create a link by initiating a conversation, beginning with something like:
“Hi, my name is Audrey. Where are you from?”
Of course, you’ll get a reply feedback, and there, the conversation begins. So, below are eight (8) ways we can initiate a conversation with almost everyone.
- JUST SAY THAT FIRST WORD
Some culture or people, probably for security reasons, will say: “Don’t talk to strangers!”
I beg to differ! Every stranger comes with an opportunity; an opportunity to learn something new, have some experience you’ve never had or hear a story you’ve never had before. Most times, you find yourself in occasions where you sit across the room, you find a stranger sitting just next to you; deep down your mind, you want to talk to that stranger – that boy, or that girl that you could almost share the first word with that person but it wouldn’t come out…
Just say that word! Let that word out! What’s the worst that can happen?
As you say the first word, everything else will just flow. Gather that enthusiasm, that positivity, that energy, with a big smile and say: “Hi!”, “Hello!”, “Hey!” – Of course, you’ll feel that strange moment. But keep it simple.
- SKIP THE SMALL TALKS
Small talks like: “Hi”, “Hey”, “How are you?”, “I’m fine”, “What’s up with you? … Nothing much…” are okay. But as time goes by and the link gets stronger, it becomes boring. Just that same old talks – nothing new; 30 – 45 seconds wasted!
So I say: Skip the small talks and go personal! Keep it interesting! Don’t be afraid!
“You’d be surprised how much people are willing to share if you just ask.”
Ask that stranger any kinds of question like:
“What is your name?”
“How long have you lived in this city?”
“Where do you come from?”
“Where do you family lives?”
You’ll discover that, answers to these questions above are always unique! Its gives better connection and result compared to the normal small talks.
- FIND THE ME-TOOLS
When you meet someone for the first time, always try to find out what you and that person have or share in common. You may just discover that you both have shared interest, similar likes and dislikes, probably you guys are from the same locality, or attended same school together, etc. Beginning with these, brings the two of you on the same page. You find it easier at this point to relate well with that person because you’ve removed that dividing wall and established a common ground. That’s a really powerful feeling!
- PAY A UNIQUE COMPLEMENT
“People will forget what you do, they will forget what you say, but they will never forget how you made them feel!”
Paying someone a unique compliment has to do with you going out and giving someone that nice, full and unique complement!
According to Malavika, there is something called: Compliment Immunity Meter. It’s a situation where some of us develop immunity to some words because we are so used to them and they mean nothing to us; words like: “nice”, “awesome”, “cool”, etc. Stay away from these words. Try to construct a compliment that is unique and genuine. Example, you look at someone and you say:
“I love how you smile…”
“I love your dress…”
- ASK FOR AN OPINION
A real communication begins with you asking for an opinion. Every one of us has opinion and we all want to be heard. We all want validation. Asking for an opinion opens a two-way street.
You will be surprised just by how much you pick up about a person just by asking for his/her opinion. Don’t ask for opinions about something that is difficult or controversial. Don’t make them feel intimidated. Ask them questions like:
“When was the last time you watched a movie?”
“How do you like your coffee?”
When you ask for people’s opinion, please do listen! you listen carefully what they have to say. That is how you win them on your page.
- BE PRESENT
Imagine you pouring your heart out to someone and he is busy with his phone or tablets (probably on Facebook or Whatsapp, chatting) and barely gives you attention; how would you feel? Bad, right? Exactly! You can’t multi-task. You have someone trying to communicate with you, the least you could do is to give him/her attention; just be whole-kindheartedly present.
Conversations are meant to be a two-way street. Any person you’re engaged in a conversation with, will want feedback. Therefore, it is necessary to pay maximum attention and listen carefully; be alive in the conversation and contribute (where necessary).
- MAINTAIN EYE CONTACT
By every way possible, make eye contact! This is where all the magic happens. It’s not only in what we say but our eye contact. With eye contact, you can feel the emotions in the conversation; and when you look at someone in the eyes, they will not dare look away. It shows confidence and attentiveness.
- REMEMBER THE LITTLE DETAILS
Remember the little details about people (friends, loved ones, classmates, colleagues, etc.); their names, birthdays, spouse names, places they like to go, places they’ve been, their pet names, etc. You discover that, remembering these little details and saying it back to them makes them feel special and important. Be genuinely interested in them and by so doing, you become an investor in their well-being and they in return, feel responsible to you by keeping the conversation going.
TRY THESE EIGHT AMAZING WAY THAT YOU USE TO MAKE CONVERSATION WITH ANYONE OR TALK TO ANY STRANGER YOU DON’T KNOW, AND YOU WILL BE HAPPY YOU DID!