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.