Whether you are a host or a guest, there are many social situations that will call for interaction, even when you are stumped for some way to get it going. For example, you might want to help a friend’s new “significant other” feel comfortable. Or, you might see a stranger across a crowded room, and realize that this is your only chance to impress Mr. or Ms. Wonderful. Then, you realize that you’re not sure what to say.
- Start with a “hello,” and simply tell the new person your name then ask them theirs. Offer your hand to shake, upon his/her responding to you. (If you go to other countries, greet the person in tune with the particular culture). If you already know the person, skip this step and proceed to step.
- Look around. See if there is anything worth pointing out. Sure, talking about the weather is a cliche, but if there’s something unusual about it–bam!–you’ve got a great topic of conversation.
- Offer a compliment. Don’t lie and say you love someone’s hair when you think it’s revolting, but if you like his or her shoes, or a handbag, say so. A sincere compliment is a wonderful way to get someone to warm up to you. But be careful not to say something so personal that you scare the person off or make him or her feel uncomfortable. It is best not to compliment a person’s looks or body.
- Ask questions! Most people love to talk about themselves — get them going. “What classes are you taking this year?” “Have you seen (Insert-Something-Here)? What did you think of it?” Again, keep the questions light and not invasive. Do not ask too many questions if he or she is not responsive to them.
- Jump on any conversation-starters he or she might offer; take something he or she has said and run with it. Agree, disagree, ask a question about it, or offer an opinion, just don’t let it go by without notice.
- Look your newfound friend in the eye, it engenders trust (but don’t stare). Also, use the person’s name a time or two during the conversation; it will help you remember the name, and will draw the person’s attention to what you are talking about.
- Don’t forget to smile and have fun with your conversation!