How To Have A Conversation: A Guide For The Socially Awkward

Do you ever feel like you’re missing out on something because of your shyness or awkwardness? Maybe you feel like everyone else is confidently walking up to new people and striking up a conversation while you stand on the sidelines thinking about what to say.

If this sounds familiar, don’t worry — you’re not alone. Many people struggle with feeling shy or awkward around other people, especially when trying to initiate a conversation. Even though it can sometimes be challenging, there are ways to make starting and keeping a conversation more accessible for you.

Having conversations is an essential part of making friends and meeting new people. But, with the right tips and tricks, initiating and keeping an exciting conversation going might become second nature to you one day soon.

Define Your Conversation Goals.

Before starting the conversation, you should have a specific goal in mind. For example, your plan might be to make a new friend, get a date, or find someone to hang out with. Whatever your goal is, make sure you have it in mind when you approach someone.

This will help you focus your attention on the person you’re trying to speak to and make the conversation better. Having a goal in mind will also help you sound confident when initiating the conversation. Finally, when deciding what you want out of the conversation, keep one thing in mind — be yourself.

When you attempt to behave like someone else or pretend to have qualities that you don’t, the other person will probably notice and feel like you’re being dishonest. So it’s better to be your usual self. As a result, the conversation will be more genuine, making it easier for the other person to connect with you.

For a brain boost, use the FORD method to become a master of small talk

Through asking questions, FORD builds rapport by learning about the other person. The acronym stands for family, occupation, recreation, and dreams. Each of these topics is used as a conversation starter.

define your conversation

Describe what you mean in your conversation.

Here are four simple ways to improve your business and personal communication. 

  • Explain your goals.
  • Consult in person.
  • Ask as often as possible.
  • Show your gratitude.

Think About Your Audience

Target audiences refer to the group of consumers most likely to buy your product or service and, therefore, the group of people who will be exposed to your ads. For example, a target audience may be determined by age, gender, income, location, interests, or other factors.

While it’s important to be yourself, you also have to think about who you’re talking to. So while you don’t want to change who you are, you want to make the conversation more relevant to the other person.

Whenever you decide what information to include, how to present it, and what supporting details will be needed, you must consider your audience. This will ensure that the reader understands what you are trying to convey. In addition, it affects the tone and structure of the document.

If you know your audience (readers or listeners), you can determine what information to include and how to convey it most effectively in a document or presentation. 

Engage the audience – make them interested, and give them a reason to listen. But how?

  • Write about a scene or a character.
  • Storytelling is extremely valuable.
  • Describe a personal experience.
  • Describe an event that occurred recently.
  • Build on the remarks or themes of a previous speaker.
  • Mention something important about the audience or the current setting.

If you don’t consider your audience when choosing your tone, content, and language, your message may seem unfocused or irrelevant. Even if your work involves sports or athletics, it’s not the right time to discuss your work projects when talking to someone who likes to exercise.

Specific topics will interest certain people, so you want to discuss things your conversation partner will be interested in.

Prepare Some Topics to Talk About

Before you even think about approaching the person you want to start a conversation with, you want to make sure you have some topics ready to go. For example, if you’re at a party and don’t know anyone, you can always talk about the music, the decorations, or the food. If you see something unusual or exciting, you can also mention it and see what others say.

Depending on where you are, you can ask your conversation partner what they’re doing there, where they’re from, or who they know at the party. These are great ways to start a conversation, and they’re sure to get the ball rolling. When preparing topics to talk about, remember that the best cases are often the most obvious ones.

People often don’t ask simple questions like “Where are you from?” or “What do you do for a living?” because they assume the other person will offer the information. So if you want to start a conversation, try asking those simple questions.

Go Ahead and Start the Conversation

It’s critical to remember that no one can read your mind. You have to start a conversation if you want to create it. You don’t have to walk up to someone and say, “Hey, let’s be friends” or “let’s go out sometime.”

Start smaller and less direct. For example, ask the person about something they’re wearing or something in their surroundings. Begin with a question that is easy to answer and off-topic for you. This will help the other person warm up and feel more comfortable with you.

How to start a conversation with someone?

  • Start by asking for information. 
  • Make a compliment. 
  • Mention something pleasant. 
  • Make your introduction. 
  • Assist. 
  • Let others know you need assistance. 
  • Share a similar experience. 
  • Find out what others think.

Don’t worry, even if you don’t find the perfect person to talk to. Not every conversation you have has to lead to a new friendship or someone you want to see again. Instead, you can practice speaking with people you don’t know and have fun with it.

Don’t Hesitate. Just Start Talking!

Sometimes, people are so caught up in thinking about what to say next or worrying about sounding silly that they don’t say anything. This is a mistake! To avoid this, focus on what you’re saying and how you’re saying it instead of thinking about what you will say next.

Don't Hesitate. Just Start Talking!
Photo by Product School on Unsplash

The problem is not just a mindset shift. Those who speak up and are heard will help resolve it. It is possible to forget what you want to say in the heat of the moment, even though you want to speak up. It could also be that you’re an introvert who prefers to communicate using email. Maybe the meeting is too crowded with senior people, and you don’t know when it’s appropriate to step in.

It’s okay to make mistakes and sound a little silly sometimes to start a conversation. The most important thing is to start talking. 

Practice by Having More Conversations!

If you’re struggling with initiating and keeping a conversation going, try having more discussions on a smaller level — with the cashier at the store or with the barista at the coffee shop.

When you have these more minor conversations, you can focus on just keeping the conversation alive. You don’t have to worry about initiating it or feeling like you have to end it.

You’ll become more adept at keeping conversations flowing, and you’ll be better prepared to have more extended and more in-depth discussions with people you don’t know.

Don’t worry about sounding stupid or wrong.

You can talk about a wide range of topics with a new friend or someone you’re interested in getting to know better. Of course, you don’t want to discuss your dreams and aspirations right off the bat, but you don’t have to talk about yourself the entire time either.

You can ask the other person about their interests, what they like to do for fun, where they’re from, and any other questions you have about them. Talking about these topics will show the other person that you care about getting to know them better.

It’s also okay to disagree with the other person from time to time. If they say something that you strongly disagree with, you don’t have to try to agree with them or change your opinion to match theirs. Instead, you can state your opinion and let the other person know that you have a different view than they do.

The Final Step: Practice!

Whatever you do, don’t let your shyness or awkwardness get in your way of having a fulfilling life. If you’re feeling timid and you can’t seem to break out of your comfort zone, try taking some time to practice.

Start with more minor interactions and conversations, and don’t be afraid to repeat yourself if it means you get to practice more. Nevertheless, don’t be too hard on yourself; everyone was a beginner once and had to start somewhere.

Even if you’re still struggling with your shyness after trying all of these tips, remember that it gets better with time. It might take you a few years and some real dedication, but it will get better. With practice, you can overcome your shyness. And once you do, you’ll find yourself enjoying life a lot more. You’ll have new friends, you’ll have a new sense of confidence, and you’ll have no regrets.

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