Do you recognize those moments. Those moments where you are on a birth party or wedding of a friend and you know nobody. Or you’re visiting a conference on your own. The talks are nice, and afterwards there’s a network drinks. And drinks are cosy, huh? But how can I ever by myself on these events?
Many people find these situations challenging, and sometimes even fearful, while they also long for connection with other people there.
The good thing: you’re all in the same boat, and probably most of the people feel like you. That’s why I share 10 questions here to get the conversation flowing.
The 10 conversation starters:
- Tell me more about you.
- What brought you here?
- What’s the most exciting project you’re working on right now (or have been working on)?
- What was the best thing of your week (and how was your week…)?
- If it weren’t for the money, what would you be doing today?
- If you would change what you are doing know, what would you’ve been doing?
- Who is an example or role model for you?
- What (charity) cause keeps you busy, or would you like to support?
- What would you do if you’d had unlimited money or resources?
- If you’d choose to do anything for a day, what would it be?
Once a conversation is going and you feel it is going on easily, you can gradually move on to deeper and personal questions. And if the conversation is not going well, don’t be afraid to close the conversation and start a new one with someone else. Knowing when to stop a conversation is also important: you’re not obliged to keep a conversation running and keep each other hostage. If it ain’t working, it ain’t working.
Some Other Takeaways in Communicating with People
Besides asking questions, there is a lot to take into account when interacting with other people. Here are some of the things that trigger me:
- If you understand yourself, it is much easier to understand others.
- Before going to an event, think about which kind of people you want to meet. Who are the right people for you?
- Tell stories, do not sell. Be authentic and dare to be vulnerable.
- If you want to be inspiring, it’s about your audience, not about you.
- When teaching, do not only tell people how to do things, but show them if possible.
- When you know someone who could help the one you are talking too, connect them.
- Surprise people and give them gifts.
- If you are short in time, communicate how much time you have available and be straight to the point.
- Criticize in private, praise in public.
- If you want to take a lead, create a vision, form the right time and provide ample resources.
Remember that it isn’t about nailing these points, being able to remember them or to apply them as a machine. Every situation is different. The very simple truth is that if you want to be connected with people, love them.
Quoting from the famous book “How to win friends and influence people” from Dale Carnagie: “To be interesting, be interested”. It as simple as that. When you focus on how you can help other people, listen and be interested, it becomes a whole lot interesting for yourself too. So, what are your conversation starters?