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Unless you know the other person well, stand at least 4 feet away from them.Don’t lean over someone’s shoulder or strain to take a peek at what they are reading this is extremely rude and annoying.Don’t sit right next to someone in a theater or seated venue if other chairs are free.When you approach someone for the first time, your body is doing the talking for you before you even open your mouth.Imagine how you would react to a stranger walking up to you based on first impressions and you will soon realize that there are some basic behaviors that can make all the difference.Take a look at the pointers below and practice each one in the mirror at home.It may sound silly, but it’s a great way to correct giving off negative vibes next time you want to start chatting to someone.It should be relaxed, with shoulders down, but not slouched.Let your arms hang casually by your side, rather than crossing them as if you are shielding yourself ready for battle.Knowing how to use a firm handshake that doesn’t squeeze the life out of someone is important.This is another thing you can practice by yourself, shaking your own hand to feel the difference between a confident gesture and an aggressive grab.Always maintain good eye contact, without making it look as if you are glaring.What is the difference?Well, a nice level of eye contact means you will hold the other person’s gaze for a few seconds at a time.If it is a continuous stare, you will make them feel very unsettled.Again, practice this technique in the mirror as if you were talking to someone else until you feel you’ve got it just right.Throughout the conversation, try to keep your hands relaxed by placing them on your lap or even in your pockets.This also stops you from fidgeting and fiddling, which may portray nervousness or insincerity.It goes without saying that you shouldn’t be constantly checking your mobile phone throughout the conversation.There is nothing more annoying and it does not convey to the other person that you are genuinely interested in them.Put your phone to one side or, even better, place it out of sight and focus on the person in front of you instead.Getting rid of fear.It’s difficult to know what to say to a complete stranger to break the ice and just the thought of it can fill you with great anxiety.You are very likely to make a total mess of things as a result, with your nerves getting the best of you and making you sound like a complete buffoon.The way to get around that is to reduce your stress levels before you even approach another person and that’s something you can work on at any time of the day.Firstly, you need to change your mindset about meeting new people.After all, what is the worst thing that can happen when you talk to someone?The fear that you have built up inside your mind is usually unwarranted and even if someone is extremely rude to you, at least you will realize they are not the kind of people you want to have as friends.Their antisocial reaction shouldn’t prevent you from engaging with others after that or keep you from opening up.This not only applies to new people but to those you already know, whether they be colleagues, peers, or acquaintances.Your anxiety may make it extremely difficult for you to engage with others and you probably use tactics to prevent that, such as looking totally absorbed in your phone.Anxiety grows from within us and usually has nothing to do with our external environment.It is a collection of bad memories that you believe will repeat themselves in the future.This is not the case and once you accept that, it will take a huge weight off your shoulders.Again, believing in yourself is the key to entering into any social interaction with positivity and enthusiasm.Imagine what you will, but the most probable outcome is that someone shows little interest in you.That’s not the end of the world by any means.After all, you don’t immediately like everyone you meet, do you?Many people, just like you, would actually love to have someone to talk to, especially at social events during which a lot of strangers have been thrown into the same room.You are not the only one who finds it hard to begin a conversation, so stop thinking that you are and just relax!What are you saying?Now that we’ve ticked those boxes on how to behave and get rid of your anxiety, let’s get to the heart of the matter and look at ways to crack the small talk code.When I go walking through my local country trails, the only other people about are fellow walkers, most of whom I don’t know.As our paths cross, there is always a nice exchange of ‘hello’ or ‘good morning’ to signal that we are passing friends, not enemies.Pleasantries like that serve a very good purpose and needn’t be any more involved than those few simple words.It’s simply a way to break the ice and, depending on the response, you can take it to another level if it seems appropriate.Just chill out and be yourself, approaching any conversation with a genuine desire to learn more about the other person.The art of small talk actually lies in talking less and listening more.How are you?’ you may feel stuck.‘How did you end up working here?’ This prompts them to talk about their past and where they worked before, giving you a chance to open up the dialogue.Think of questions that begin with ‘why?’, ‘how?’, and ‘what if?’ to encourage a full answer that you can then expand on.As I said above, showing a genuine interest in the other person instead of talking about yourself is a much better way to get to know someone.By doing so, you are also taking the stress out of wondering what to talk about, because you simply let them do most of the talking.In addition, while they are telling you about themselves, you are learning more about them and may find that you have one or two things in common that can feed further discussion.Most people love the opportunity to talk about themselves, so be curious and ask them.You will usually get a very positive response, as long as you don’t sound like you are prying or being too intrusive.Show that you are following what the other person is saying by maintaining eye contact and giving an occasional response such as, ‘I see’, or ‘Yes, I know what you mean’.The person you are talking to will understand how engaged you are, which encourages them to open up even more.If you start fidgeting, looking around you, or yawning, that isn’t going to make the other person feel that you are really interested in them.It goes without saying that you shouldn’t keep checking your phone during the conversation either.Would you be happy to start chatting to someone who is constantly glancing at their mobile screen?Whenever you approach someone that you don’t know or want to get to know better, go into it with the right attitude.Show enthusiasm in learning more about them and look at the conversations as an opportunity to connect with them.If you are willing to make the effort in the first place, embrace it as a positive experience that you can learn something from, rather than seeing it as the equivalent of walking over hot coals.Be prepared and willing to share information about yourself without dominating the conversation.Your aim is to offer hooks that the other person can latch onto, thus prolonging the interaction.Tell them about something funny that happened to you, or share interesting facts about yourself that will make them curious and want to get to know you better.You don’t have to be a genius to know when someone is getting bored during a conversation.If they start fidgeting or looking disinterested while you are talking, that’s a clear sign that they are disengaged.I need to go but it was lovely to meet you’.Be gracious as you bow out and don’t let the other person’s disinterest take away from the whole experience or make you feel like you failed in any way.I’ve used the scenarios from Steve’s life although all of the following can be adapted to your situation and I am sure you will be able to think of many more ideas once you have read them.You will find an initial ice breaker, followed by questions that can lead to a more involved response.The traffic’s bad today, isn’t it?What do you think about the plans for the new metro/bus station?How did you end up living here?Where are you originally from?What’s your hometown like?How’s your day going?What did you think of the meeting/workshop?What brought you into this profession?What’s your experience been like so far?How do you think I should go about asking to change departments?I just love the coffee here, don’t you?Can you recommend any good Italian restaurants in town?How do you like spending your time off work?Where did you go on vacation this year?Have you been on a tour like this before?Is this your hometown or are you new here too?How often do you go back home?In general, there are many things you can say to break the ice, depending on where you are.How do you know about this place?What’s your boss like?Where did you live before moving here?What is usually the highlight of your day?Have you ever thought about making a career change?What would be your dream job/lifestyle?How are you finding the food?What are you doing this weekend?What are your favorite restaurants around here?What local sports teams do you follow?What would you recommend from the menu?Did you see that viral YouTube video about the funny cat?How often do you play sports?What’s your favorite drink?What’s your dream car?What streaming service do you use?Depending on how the conversation goes, there are hundreds of subjects that you can bring up which may fuel further discussion.This shows that you are interested enough to want to see them again or that you enjoyed their company.If that is the case, say so.It was lovely to meet you.I hope to see you again.Have a great day and let’s do this again sometime.I really enjoyed our chat and would love to get together again with you.I’d love to meet up with you another time.It’s been great talking to you.Can I give you my mobile number?Can I have your number to keep in touch?If not, don’t take it to heart.They may still be unsure but what’s certain is that if you bump into them again, you can take up where you left off and hopefully get to know each other a bit better.Let things flow naturally and simply see how it goes!Whether you are approaching a man or a woman, be mindful of your body language and how you come across to them.Although physical attraction may be your primary motivation, don’t shoot yourself in the foot from the beginning by coming across too strongly.Relax, be yourself, and show genuine interest in getting to know them better with the help of the questions mentioned above.This can be equally stressful and cause you to freeze up completely.The way to get around this is by trying not to answer their questions with one or two words, but to give fuller replies that can lead to a deeper conversation.So, when asked, ‘How are you?’, instead of giving a short response of, ‘Fine’ or ‘Good’, try to make it longer by saying something such as, ‘I’m good thanks.I was just wondering what the weather will be like next week as I have some time off work’.When asked, ‘Where are you from?’, don’t just say, ‘London’.Give more information, such as, ‘I really love it there because there is so much to see and do.I used to live near Hyde Park and there was always some event or festival going on in summer.’If asked, ‘What did you do on the weekend?’ instead of saying, ‘Nothing much’, expand a bit to allow the conversation to flow with something like, ‘I usually go shopping at the weekend but my car’s in the garage so I stayed home and watched Netflix’.The main thing is to give a genuine response that reflects who you are, what you like to do, and how your life is at this moment.You never know you may make a lifelong friendship simply by talking about yourself for a few minutes.Connecting with people is much easier when we open up and allow them to get to know us.Now that we’ve looked at how to use small talk and turn it into something bigger, I want to walk you through the steps you can take to make it easier for people to get to know you better.The secret lies in opening up even further throughout the conversation and helping them to like you.If someone is interested enough in you, you will find this a lot easier than you think.The more you spend time with people, the more they will get to know you.If your initial contact is for just 5 minutes, they may learn a mere 5% about you.When you next meet, it might be for a few hours.That gives them the opportunity to learn even more about you.As you hang out together more frequently and for greater lengths of time, they will get to know you 100%, just as you will get to know them.That’s the beginning of a promising friendship!Small talk doesn’t have to be painful.Your body language speaks volumes.Be aware of personal space, facial expressions, and behavior.Change your mindset to remove anxiety.Enthusiasm, curiosity, and listening go a long way.Always offer to exchange contact details if you feel the chat went well.


Last edited by William Jones