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Ask open-ended questions. If you would like a conversation to continue, try to refrain from asking questions that require a simple ‘yes or no’ answer. Instead, make inquiries that call for an explanation that encourages people to offer information that may lead to further dialogue. If you receive an answer that supplies little for you to build upon, simply follow up with another question related to the first. Open-ended questions often begin with “what, why, when, how,” etc.
Be prepared. It is always a good idea to have a few general conversation starters in mind before attending any social event. Brush up on current events. Find a few interesting topics that most people will probably have heard about and then come up with an opening question on the subject. You can always use the weather as a starting point.
Read body language. If you approach a group of people, see if they seem accommodating before jumping into their discussion. See if anyone smiles at you or if the group opens up a spot for you to join them. If they seem closed off, move on. It doesn't mean the people are unkind or unfriendly, they may simply be very engrossed in their topic of conversation.
Do not interrupt the flow. It is important to listen before you jump into a conversation in progress. Simply listen for a while. Look interested, but wait until there is a natural opening in the conversation for you to join in. Make sure to say something or ask a question related to what is being discussed. Don’t try to take the conversation in a whole new direction unless the current dialogue on a subject is winding down.
Open with a positive remark. In almost every situation, you can find a positive observation to offer as a conversation starter. Perhaps something about the beautiful surroundings or the delicious food being served. In fact, remaining as positive as possible throughout a conversation with new people is bound to make you come across as engaging and friendly.
Who hasn’t walked into a party or event, looked around, and realized there isn’t one familiar face in the crowd? The first reaction may be to turn around and run, but it might be worth sticking around. Although the situation certainly might be a little uncomfortable at first, it may become an opportunity to meet some really interesting people and even make some new friends.
It is quite natural to feel awkward when surrounded by people you have never met. Most of us feel at least a tad uneasy about facing a room full of strangers. The most challenging part about socializing with new people is usually trying to find a way to initiate a conversation that feels natural… not forced or contrived.
Here are a few ideas you may find helpful the next time you find yourself in a social situation that requires you to mix in with new people.