It’s time to eradicate the awkward silence over small talks. Be it a business dinner with a new colleague or even girlfriend’s best guy friend. You met, exchange a few pleasantries, then stare at each other for the longest 10 seconds of your life. That’s just the insignificant everyday stuff, what about the major ones, like an interview for your dream job or maybe a blind date? Check out the following on how to talk to people.
How to Talk to People: 8 Things to Save Your Day
Listen and Pay Attention
Often whenever we met someone new, we would just spend all our time to talk about ourselves, only stopping when we ran out of “small questions” to go with. Well, it’s so much easier to talk about yourself than scrambling to find a common topic you two shares. Just listen and pay attention to the conversation, ask them about themselves, what’s their hobby, what did they did lately. The more you stop to listen then reply, the less you will worry about what to talk about next since you are focused at the current conversation.
Two Sides to the Story
You aren’t going to be the only one in the dilemma, your conversation is stuck in the same spot too. You don’t want the continuous question and answer to stop. I have been in that situation where we exhaust all the questions within the first 5 minutes of the conversation. The main problem? We both only asked the “macro” questions. Questions so general, like "How was the weather", will only give you general answers. Dive into the more “micro” questions, something more specific like “How was the weather for you on the way here” (terrible examples, yes...), maybe he goes how he was driving in the rain, then you can question “What kind of car you are driving.” Then the conversation might end up on car prices or something.
Create Discussion with Caution
Assuming you have delved deep enough into the conversation with that someone you just knew. You are wondering whether it is alright to go into the most sensitive topic of politics, sex or religion. This is the moment where you goes into full judgement mode, by that I mean look for nonverbal cues. Is he shifting around uncomfortably when you mention the recent terrorist attacks on the news? That’s a red flag, immediately change the topic. Some people do enjoy that kind of conversation, so only continue if he is fine with it. Learn to read the mood, although it takes time, it would be worth it.
The Hammer of Judgement
Here comes a key point of how to talk to people. Don’t make an immediate judgement of the person while you are talk with him. Rushing to conclusion might make the topic you are talking more narrow. Now imagine if both of you are doing the same thing. That pool of topic is going to drain real quick. Refer back to what I wrote earlier, listen to each other. Keep it open minded. Reserve that judgement only when that conversation is over.
Attempt to Give Full Attention
I can sense it when people starting to lose interest when I was talking. It’s often more obvious that you think. Movement of the partner, like looking away for a moment or taking out his phone for a peek, is often. We all do this from time to time too, often subconsciously. The only way to avoid it (or at least, my way) is to be aware that you will likely to do all those subtle movements. Then again, if you are starting to get bored, you can always strike up a new topic.
Keep Up with the News
This should be self-describing. Keeping on those of the current events will give you ample of topics to bring up for conversations. It doesn't have to be in-depth, maybe just headlines, or even the latest movie. Being aware of the world just means more things to talk about in case you get stuck.
Know Not to Talk
Some people just dislike conversations or just feel like it’s an inappropriate situation for them. Let’s say on the plane, you tried to have a chat with your seat neighbour, if I were the neighbour, I would just give you a look of disgust and wear my earpiece of something. You are basically invading privacy or in my theory, forcing people to be in that awkward situation until the plane landed. Silence might be golden in those contexts. While it is good to be proactive, read the mood, strike a chat with another person, then maybe read a book to spend your time. See, to know not to talk sometimes helps you with how to talk to people.
It’s ironic that in order to learn how to talk, you need to know how to talk. Don’t let the awkward silence set you back. It won’t matter when you are 38. Unless you are in your 30s, then it’s still not too late to learn. It’s all about building that confidence, to eventually overcome that irrational initial fear of approaching someone just for a chat. Conversing is an art of knowing when to start and when to stop while always having an arsenal ready when it’s someone’s turn to initiate.