As I slowly transition from school to work this month, I find it harder and harder for me to talk to people, literally. And it wasn’t just because I’m interacting with more people at work who are older or more experienced than me. I have talked to professionals at school events before, but I knew that my role was a student. And this acknowledgement somehow made it easier for me to confront people.
Very soon, however, I will be entering the working world and I need to alter this perspective
(time to grow up and be an adult). Confidence, for sure, plays a key role in how I’m communicating with people at work, but this is something that just builds slowly from experience. The skill of communication, on the other hand, is something that we all can actively practice on a daily basis and improve overtime.
Below are some simple, but powerful tips I collected to help myself start a better conversation.
How to Start A Conversation?
1.The first word flood gates
There are many times where we’re tempted to meet someone to be friends and learn more about him/her. But the words are sometimes stuck in our throats, and we never got the words out. If we just say out the first word, the rest of the conversation usually just flows out naturally.
” What’s the worst that can happen? Having the person not talk to you? Will it has already happened.” – Malavika Varaden, Radio Host
2. Pay a genuine, unique compliment
Try to avoid cliche, meaningless compliments such as “awesome”, “great”, “cool.” Actually evaluate what makes the person special and give him/her an honest, meaningful compliment showing that you put the effort out to pay attention to the person.
3. Ask for an opinion
We all have opinions, and we all want to share them as much as other people. Ask for another person’s opinions show that they are valued and important, and also it’s a good way to really know what the person is like. The opinions do not have to be a controversial or complex one, they can be simple questions such as “How do you like your coffee?” or “What did you think of the game last night?” These questions are great conversation starters as well.
4. Remember their names
“Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” – Dale Carneige, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People
Saying out and remembering their names make the person feel valued and recognized. It shows that you put the effort out to remember the person – and sometimes this simple act can mean a lot, especially if you’re at an event meeting many new faces. A tip for remembering names is to repeat the person’s name again after greeting him/her, and try to match their names with their features. It would also be good to jog down some notes on their name cards after speaking with the person.
5. Avoid small talk, Ask better questions
I am guilty of creating small talks all the time. “How are you doing?” “I’m good thanks, how about you?” “What do you think of the weather?” These may be good conversation starters, but usually the conversation do not last very long. That’s also a good 30-40 seconds wasted when you could’ve learn more about the other person. In order to really create meaningful conversations with people, we need to start asking better questions. Open ended questions involving: Who, What, When, Where, Why, are great for adding value into a conversation.
6. Practice, practice, practice!
Starting a conversation requires skills and practice – it doesn’t just come naturally! We are all going down our own journeys and as long as we are improving that’s all that matters.
>> Read my upcoming post on Creating Meaningful Conversations.