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I have never been good in social situations. It may have started when others made fun of me, but I can’t say for certain. Regardless of the reason why, going up to people, introducing myself and striking up a conversation has never been one of my strengths. Over the years, I have learned a few tricks to help me get over my nervousness and hold conversations with others. Below are my three tips that have helped me the most.
Get The Other Person Talking
Everyone loves to talk about themselves or the things that interest them. Regardless of how shy or reserved you are, my bet is that if someone asked you a question about one of your passions, you would easily be able to talk about it in depth with them.
Therefore, your goal is to get the other person talking. Ask a few questions to get them started and let them talk. They will most likely be able to talk for a few minutes on the topic. All the while, keep eye contact with them to show you are interested. If you act disinterested, they will not go into as much details as they would if you act interested.
Of course eventually, the other person is going to stop talking. At this point, either they will ask you a question, or you need to ask them a question. Asking them a question should be easy if you listened to what they were talking about. If you didn’t listen, then you will not be able to come up with a follow up question.
Personally, I would listen and when they would say something was an opening for a question, I would hold off until they finished talking and then ask my question. This allowed for them to talk for a few more minutes and when they were finished I could ask my follow up question.
The third tip is to stay relaxed. At some point during the conversation, neither person will have anything else to add. If you need to run to the restroom, politely excuse yourself by saying it was nice talking with you, but I need to run to the restroom.
If you are getting a drink, ask if they need another and offer to get one for them or invite them along to grab another.
In the event that the conversation has ended and you don’t need to excuse yourself, remain calm. When the “awkward silence” would happen to me, I would become nervous and put pressure on myself to think of something to say. This pressure led to me failing and not coming up with a topic to discuss.
When I relaxed and let the conversation flow naturally, the awkward silences weren’t so awkward. I would look around the room and usually find something to talk about. Is there a game on the television? Ask if they are sports fans. Karaoke in the next room? Talk about that. There are endless things to talk about, you just have to stay relaxed so that you can think of them.
Overcoming shyness and awkwardness in conversation is much easier than we think. It seems hard simply because we put so much pressure on ourselves. We also tend to think about all of the negative things that will happen – like spilling a drink on the person or ourselves – which stops us from initiating the conversation.
Once we learn to stay relaxed, get the other person talking and listen, we instantly become much better conversationalists. We might not be the best in the world, but we won’t have to worry about feeling so awkward about it.