Can you help me to be comfortable with small talk at a gathering of people I do not know?
From time to time I have to attend to seminars and during the break we tend to mingle. A number of people all interested in the same subject, but having nothing much else in common.
Give me something I am passionate about and I will talk endlessly. But just making small talk with others I am not familiar with. . . . .I ask 2-3 questions then I dry up. Help!
When you ask those questions, listen closely to their answers then ask a follow up question on the same subject. Ex. Where are you from? Follow up: Did you grow up there? Is that where your spouse is from? Do your parents still live there?
Most people have a story to tell. Just go where their story takes you. (A glass of wine helps too!)
I am familiar with those feelings. It is peculiar at times with gatherings of like minded individuals, yet may not be inclusive of familiarity like where one lives, who they work for, or why they are at the seminar. Although those are clues for conversation, I think being an author is for me is more helpful.
What I mean by that is as authors we have great familiarity with who, what, where, when, why, how, and how much. So, what I do more with a one on one social setting is create a story using those with another. First is the setting and then the character development. A hint is I learned from a book titled How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Even though only chunks remain it impacts daily life even with standing in line at the grocery store.That helped me with creating plot development meeting people as an introvert.
When in groups I may begin with that one on one and then create a story then with a different character. I may mingle another with invitation. Usually it is with one appearing with the same feelings I once internalized. Later being an introvert by nature I may retreat inward again and varies with time or even opportunity.
I may fade away by excusing myself to refreshing myself with the catering or personal reasons. That is inclusive of actually eating or drinking if I did get those first. Usually by that time the meeting begins and I say hello to those at the table I am with or sitting next to with exclamations seeking if they discovered delight with their break.
wait for the first 2 person bring up the topic and then you join in with your questions and answers, try a warm up
Sometimes your perception of yourself "drying up" is the result of the other people not asking (you) questions! You can't force (chemistry).
It takes two to keep a conversation going.
Sometimes the best thing you can do when you sense the conversation is approaching an end is to say:
"It was nice meeting you. Have a wonderful rest of the day." and then go circulate among other people. The presenters are often talkative.
Another tactic is to excuse yourself by saying; "I'm going to grab something to eat or get a drink. It was nice meeting you."
Lastly it's important to ask "open ended questions" if you want to initiate a discussion. They usually begin with (how, why, what, where)
Avoid questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no.
Quite simply, listen most carefully first this will result in potential questions for you to ask next. Thus improving your effective listening will result in the generation of associated questions...
Thank you all for your responses. Very informative, and clear for even me to understand LOL!!
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