Monthly Archives: October 2010

How to Talk to Strangers

Unless you are a particularly self confident person, knowing how to talk to strangers is something that is likely to make you feel a bit nervous, but this is a problem that can be overcome with a little effort.

1. First of all, it’s a case of ‘practice makes perfect’.

The more that you talk to strangers, the easier it will become. You can start off in a small way. For example, if you are waiting at the bus stop, pluck up courage and make an innocuous remark about the weather, or the unreliability of the bus service, to the person standing next to you. It is very unlikely that you will meet with a rebuff.

Then, keep on practising; pass a friendly comment to the supermarket cashier, the clerk at the bank and the receptionist at the doctor’s surgery, rather than just stating your business. Taxi drivers and hairdressers are usually notorious for chatting to their customers, so instead of ignoring or rebuffing them, use it as another practice session. By doing this, your confidence will increase in leaps and bounds, and you will find it easier each time that you do it.

2. At parties, conferences or other social events, if you cannot immediately see anyone that you know, instead of hiding in a corner, try to make some new acquaintances.

Look out for someone else who is standing on their own, and if they look approachable, go over and start a conversation. If you don’t feel that you can walk up to them just like that, take over a tray of nibbles as an excuse, introduce yourself, and then you can strike up a chat.

Always begin with small talk, such as, ‘Isn’t this a lovely room?’ or ‘It’s a good turn-out, isn’t it?’ This will not make the other person feel threatened, and will give them an opening for something to say back to you.

3. In order to sustain the conversation, you will need to keep a flow of questions and answers going, particularly if the other person is shy too. Don’t get too personal at first, but you can discuss films and TV programs, sporting events, music and so on.

Later on, if things go well, you can then ask about their job, family etc. Listen attentively to what the other person has to say, and don’t interrupt or talk over them. Smile, nod and make eye contact with them to show that you are interested in what they have to say.

4. If you find that you have nothing in common with the other person, that they are unbearably boring, or have nothing much to say for themselves, find a polite excuse to terminate the conversation. This can be something along the lines of, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, do excuse me, but I’ve just spotted my friend Sarah over there, and I really have to talk to her. It`s been lovely chatting with you.’ That way, you won`t hurt their feelings.

5. It can be even more difficult if you find yourself having to chat with a whole group of strangers, for example during a break at a conference.

If you feel nervous, try to stand on the outskirts of the group at first and listen to what the others have to say, until you feel confident enough to join in with the conversation.

In this situation, the obvious topic of conversation will be the content and presentation of the conference itself, so if you have been paying attention, you are just as well equipped to talk about this as any of the other delegates. Think about what you are going to say, rather than just blurting something out, and that way you are less likely to risk making a fool of yourself.

Learning how to talk with strangers is intimidating, but with practice your self confidence will grow and you will gradually find that it is easier and easier to do. Remembering that the other person is probably just as shy and nervous as you can also be a big help.

How to Talk to New People Made Easy

It is always good to meet new people, who will hopefully turn into friends, but sometimes actually making conversation with someone you have just met can be rather intimidating, particularly if you are a bit shy or reserved. That is why it is important to learn how to talk to new people.

1. Don’t just be a wallflower, and try and camouflage yourself against the wallpaper so that nobody will notice you the next time you go to a party: make an effort and join in with the fun.

Those other people are only human, just like you, and you could be missing out on meeting either the partner of your dreams, or at least a good friend to go out with, if you let your fears and inhibitions get the better of you.

2. If you are not sure how to start up a conversation with a stranger, try to listen to other people’s conversations, and see how they do it (be subtle about this, though, as you don’t want to get a reputation as an eavesdropper).

If you spot someone at a party or conference that you think would be pleasant or interesting to talk to, take a deep breath, go over and smile, and say, ‘Hi’. Make a general comment about the event that you are attending to break the ice, and introduce yourself.

You could perhaps offer to help them to food or drink. Holding a glass gives you something to do with your hands, too.

3. If you are shy, or not very adept at social conversations, you might find it easier to join a group conversation, rather than chatting in a one on one situation, since then you will not have to take as much responsibility for maintaining the flow of conversation.

If you already know one or two members of the group, it is even better, as this will help you to overcome your shyness with the ones that you don`t know. If it makes you feel more comfortable, you can stand on the sidelines and just listen at first, and then gradually join in with the conversation as you become more confident.

4. Stick to general, innocuous topics, and avoid controversial subjects such as politics and religion. You could ask the other person if they have seen a film or TV programme that you have recently watched; talk about a prominent sporting event that is currently in the news, or even chat about the weather. Ask them where they live and what they do for a living; whether they are married, or have any children or pets.

By asking questions like these, you show that you are interested in them, and, since most of us quite like talking about ourselves, they will be flattered and feel well disposed towards you.

Try not to ask closed questions, to which people can simply answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’, but pose open questions that require them to give a fuller response. This will help to keep the conversational ball rolling.

5. Make sure that you pay attention to what the other person is saying. Smile and nod so that they know that you are listening.

Once you begin to learn a little bit about the other person, you will have a better idea of their interests, and their attitudes towards life, and this will give you clues about the topics that are more likely to successfully sustain the flow of conversation.

Hopefully, you will find at least one issue or interest that you have in common, which will then make it much easier to find things to say.

For most of us, learning how to talk to new people is not easy, but you will find that the more practice you get, the better at it you will become.

How To Deal with Verbal Abuse

Human beings demonstrate abuse of another in many different ways, from a grimace every time we are near someone we don’t like to full blown physical attacks. Disrespecting people by not making way for them or making rude comments about them impeding your way is a subtle form of abuse, but the nonetheless its just that: abuse.

However, one of the most painfully penetrating, of the long list of abuses, is verbal abuse. So, how do we deal with verbal abuse? It’s not easy, but here’s a short list of ways that can help you know how to deal with verbal abuse.

1. Love Yourself

First things first. The best shield of protection against verbal abuse is to love yourself. If you have good self esteem, you will be less concerned by any verbal abuse from other people, because you will realize that whatever they say does not change who you are.

That means to know in your heart and mind that you are an important person and no matter what anyone says to you or about you does not alter who you are. This understanding and belief in yourself is the best defense against personalizing verbal abuse and letting it damage you.

2. Zero tolerance

Just think about it, if more people loved themselves there would be less tolerance for verbal abuse from us all. However, individually speaking we each must have zero tolerance for verbal abuse from those we interact with.

If noone tolerates this bad behaviour, then those who are more apt to give out verbal abuse will realize that it is pointless.

When somebody starts verbally abusing you, you must put your foot down and put a stop to it. Physically walk away if you have to. You are not doing anyone any good (including the abuser) if you accept verbal abuse.

3. Let them know you will not tolerate abuse

To reinforce your zero tolerance of verbal abuse you must let the verbal abuser know how much their words hurt you and that you will not accept being spoken to like that. Be firm and persistent about it. Do not get upset or angry. Just calmly state that you will not tolerate being spoken to in that way.

Do not ask the person who is verbally abusing you how they would like it done to them because it would fall on deaf ears. Instead, be straightforward and establish your boundaries of acceptable behavior.

4. Talk to a third party

Many people have family members who can`t control their fury. They then speak to their loved ones with hatred and disrespect, not only once or twice, but constantly and consistently.

These types of situations, especially if they have been long term, require you to seek a third party of some sort, like a counselor. That will at least give you the opportunity to talk about it. From that you will get support.

Third parties can be other family members, friends, counsellors or religious advisers, too. The important thing when dealing with a habitual verbally abusing person is for you to get help.

5. Remove yourself from the situation

Whenever a family member becomes verbally abusive our natural instinct is to react and defend ourselves. Defending ourselves involves our zero tolerance attitude, but in no way should we become verbally abusive ourselves.

Look at it logically. What’s the point? If you reciprocate verbal abuse with verbal abuse it will only make the other angrier. Moreover, a verbally abusive exchange can quickly become something physical and that won’t help anyone.

No one has the right to verbally abuse another human being. It is unacceptable behaviour and now you hopefully have some strategies for how to deal with verbal abuse.