There are many people who simply cannot start a conversation. They are shy and unsure of themselves, and when they meet new people, simply cannot express themselves in words. Equally uncomfortable are those who manage to begin a conversation, but can speak only of the one topic with which they are familiar – themselves. However, to be a good conversationalist, you need to be able to talk about more than just yourself.
Quite often, a shy person feels very frustrated. But, they are usually not aware that there are many people with the same difficulty. It is not easy to overcome shyness, but there are some steps you can take to help you with social skills. Shyness can be a form of social anxiety, which can be overcome. And remember, you are not alone in this situation. Many people are shy or suffer social anxiety.
Most commonly, shy people are judged as being unfriendly or anti-social. While this is a misreading of shy people, it is still extremely common. To combat this, the shy person has to learn to expand their comfort range. With an expanded comfort range, you’ll be able to talk to people confidently and comfortably, without hesitation. The great thing about it is that you don’t have to attend big parties to force yourself out of your “shell”. Here are 10 great ways to start conversations.
- INTRODUCTION The introduction is an important part of starting a conversation. People are introducing themselves to other people. Simply saying, “Hi, I am Robert” is an immense start. Usually, you will get a prompt reply from the other person as he or she introduces himself to you. Of course, if you are introducing yourself to a member of the opposite sex, there will especially be the concern to not “come across the wrong way”, which add pressure to the conversation – even worse for the shy person. But, one step at a time, and the introduction is the first step.
- SELECT A TOPIC Once the introduction is complete, the awkward silence follows. It’s kind of like, “…and?….” Of course, you’re probably thinking that the other person is wondering why you introduced yourself, if you have nothing to say. This is when you comment on something in the surroundings. For example, if you are at a party, ask the other person how he got to know the host or hostess. Be prepared with your own, short answer. Or, comment on a painting that you had noticed, and ask the other person if they are familiar with the artist.
- OTHER IDEAS FOR TOPICS If you are outdoors, and don’t have any props around to spur a conversation, strike up a conversation over a person’s dog. People are always eager to talk about their dog and their other pets. Simply by listening to them talk about their pets can create a connection and make you more comfortable speaking to strangers.
- ANOTHER TOPIC Travelers can also be asked about their destination. If you are sharing a cab, sitting beside someone on a train, or sharing a row on an airplane, introduce yourself and follow up with pleasant inquiries about their destination. Be sincere, and mention something positive about the place they are going.
- COMPLIMENT THE OTHER PERSON Most people like being complimented. Simply telling a person that you like her dress or handbag is a major step forward for a shy person. You don’t even have to follow up, but it helps to build your experience in talking to others.
- CURRENT EVENTS Stay on top of current events as much as possible. This will give you a wealth of topics to bring up as conversation starters. Upcoming movies or great restaurants are good conversation starters that usually don’t involve emotional reactions. However, emotional topics can take the conversation with a stranger in a wrong direction, so try to avoid that.
- ASK ABOUT THEIR HOME If you have met someone that you suspect to be from another country or another state, ask them where they are from. Most people are eager to talk about their home, and you can learn a lot about those places. Ask them what they miss the most about their home, and what was the biggest change they had to adapt to.
- CONVERSATION AT WORK If you are new to a place of employment, introduce yourself to a coworker and ask how long he has worked there. Of course, you have to be careful not to pry – talk about your job description, rather than asking what he thinks of his coworkers. That could get you labeled as a gossip.
- WELCOME NEWCOMERS When you meet someone who is new to the city, use what you have learned from 10 Great Ways to Start Conversations to “break the ice”. This will help the other person to feel more comfortable, and you may find that you have a lot in common.
- CLASSROOM CONVERSATION If you are in a classroom, it is fairly simple to start a conversation with someone over the subject matter. Ask the other person what he thought of the book you all read, or if they can offer any elaborations of the subject.
If you have trouble interacting with other people, these 10 tips for striking up a conversation will help. They serve as ice breakers and can open up conversations just about anywhere.
Doris McHelmsley is a freelance web designer and writer with over 13 years of experience. Her passion in the web and print field has led her to this career path. As a mother of 3, she also enjoys bike riding and creating special homemade recipes. I invite you to check out her site at streetsmartz.com.