Liz Strauss posted some great advice last night on her Successful Blog about Conversation Starters.
Itâ€™s a topic that is especially important in the business world where the ability to make new contacts can really make a difference. Gorgeous and I have been learning tons about conversing with folks and getting to know strangers better because of her business.
Gorgeous has always been a great conversationalist. Over the years weâ€™ve been married Iâ€™ve come to call her my master interrogator because she finds out all kinds of obscure stuff about people sheâ€™s just met. And the best part is people love her because they never feel like their privacy was violated. (She could work for the CIA or something. Iâ€™m serious. Sheâ€™s that good.)
Why donâ€™t people feel Gorgeous is invading their privacy? Because she is genuinely interested in learning about people around her. In her case itâ€™s not something she has to muster up. She just likes meeting new people.
But, outside the business world, why should we bother improving our conversation starting skills?
Well for starters it makes life more interesting. I am naturally an introvert. Until I get to know you, that is. After that you canâ€™t shut me up. But very little freaks me out more than walking into a room of complete strangers. The way Iâ€™d cope with that was to become a wall flower, which only added to the freak-out factor the next time.
But when you choose to work at learning how to start conversations without being awkward it comes easier and gets less scary. Gorgeous and I make a game out of it now. â€œGuess what I learned about the new guy?â€
The other thing is that you never know how you might connect with someone new unless you talk with them. Just last week I found a connection with a guy. But it only happened because I was genuinely interested in learning about him. Who knows what might come of that one day?
One last example of someone who is a master connector: Our pastor is one of the best conversation starters I know. You might think that that should come with the job. But most of the pastors I know tend to be at least a little introverted or, if they are outgoing, donâ€™t really connect with folks.
But not so with our pastor. We have more folks coming to our campus because they had a conversation with him, which he started, than because of any other person. Iâ€™ve watched him â€œwork his magicâ€ and I am continually amazed. For him it just flows naturally. He mixes it up and doesnâ€™t rely on any one technique to get a conversation started. But it flows out of his sincere interest in other people.
Whatâ€™s the take away?
Get interested in other people.
Go out and start conversations. You never know who you might meet.