Whenever we go to a social event, the first question my husband asks me on the way home is, “Who did you talk to?” Because whether it’s one person or many, quality conversations do play a key role in determining the success of the evening.
The holidays are often filled with many social opportunities – family dinners, neighborhood potlucks, church socials, work parties, casual get-togethers with friends, and many more.
Although we look forward to these events they can often be a source of stress if we’re not sure who to talk to or what to say. And we often feel as if we’ve fallen short when we can’t think of anything to say.
Being a good conversationalist is a talent. Although for some people it may appear to come naturally, it is a skill that can be learned and perfected.
There are three components to being a good conversationalist:
1. Be familiar with basic conversation guidelines.
2. Ask good questions.
3. Know how to move on when the conversation is over.
Basic Conversation Guidelines:
- Ask good questions
- Be a good listener
- Don’t contradict, or interrupt another person while they are speaking
- Wait until one question is answered before asking another
- Be positive and build up others
- Choose topics that draw on a persons interests
Ask Good Questions
Small talk is an essential part of a social event. It allows us to engage and identify common ground. Always have a few key questions in your back pocket that you can use to start a conversation. By asking open-ended questions you are inviting people to tell stories rather than give boring, one-word answers. For example:
Instead of asking this…
- “How was your day?”
- “Where are you from?”
- “What do you do?”
- “What is your name?”
- “What is the meaning of our name?” (If it’s unknown, ask, “What would you like it to mean?”
- “What are you looking forward to this week?”
- “What was the last book you read?”
- “Who had the biggest impact on the person you have become?”
- “What three words best describe you?”
- “Who in your life brings you the most joy?”
- “What is the most annoying habit someone can have?”
- “Where is the most beautiful place you have been?”
- “Who do you think is the luckiest person in this room?”
- “What was your favorite book as a child?”
- “What is one thing that you would love to do in your lifetime?”
How to Move On
Now that you’ve mastered the art of starting an engaging conversation, you must learn how to stop once you are ready to move on. Spoken with confidence, these words will get you out of any exchange:
- “It’s been so nice talking with you, thanks for your time. I hope you enjoy the rest of the evening.”
- “I told myself I would meet three new people this evening. Who would you suggest I talk to next?”
- “Excuse me, I need to …(go to the women’s room, check in with my children, get a drink, grab a bite, etc…)”
Now, I would love to hear from YOU!
I’ve come up with a few questions. Feel free to answer as many as you’d like:
- What questions do you like to ask?
- What tips do you have for engaging in a successful conversation?
- What are you most looking forward to in the next two weeks?
Have a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year! Wishing you a joyous, conversation-filled holiday season, and looking forward to connecting with you again in January.