In one of my recent articles, I talked about my social life in college. I wrote a bit about how I tried to talk to people but this time I want to get more in depth on how I began and held conversations.
Let's start with the hard part, starting a conversation with a stranger. Say that you got out of the most boring history class ever. You see one of your classmates walking your way and you want to start chatting with them. Since the both of you just left history class then that will be the perfect topic for a conversation starter. You can start with a joke, “I think I learned more history in my sleep then in that class." A question," What did you think about Professor X?" Anything, in reason, so long as it pertains to that class. You can use this strategy for anywhere you go, that's why it's a good idea to join clubs, organizations and go to school events since while you're there you'll have an easy conversation starter. If you find that a lot of people in your environment are already in groups and you're the lone one out, then you're going to have to be bold for this next tidbit. This may sound creepy but when I see a group of people I want to be friendly with, I try to listen in on their conversation to find my perfect chance to strike, metaphorically speaking. Trying to initiate yourself into a group of friends can be tough but if you're bold enough to penetrate their defenses with something they're talking about then you can be a part of their group.
Once you find yourself talking with someone, next you have to keep the conversation going. Nothing can be more awkward than introducing yourself and then start looking to the sides for something to talk about. What you could do other than that is to keep talking about whatever is topical. In the example I gave earlier, you can talk long about that history class. Talk about the subject, the professor, your history with history class. So long as the person is interested in that topic then you can milk it for all it has. During your introduction to the person use whatever information they say about themselves as ammunition. Fire at them all the questions you have about them. The best thing about this way of conversing is that it can be used for a long time, depending on the person. People love talking about themselves since it's easy for them and they are the leading expert on everything about themselves. Make sure to look interested in what they have to say by smiling, nodding and commenting while they speak. It keeps their spirits up and they will become more interested in talking to you because you're interested in them.
One skill that’ll help you socialize is reading people. This isn't as hard as you may think because you only have to do it to a superficial level. People can be categorized into three groups: Talkers, listeners or somewhere in-between. When talking to others, you should see what category they fit in. If they are more of a talker, then you can just sit back and listen while commenting from time to time. If they're more of a listener than you'll have to do the talking for them. It's important to be able to know this about others so that the conversation can flow naturally but you should also know that about yourself. I find that I'm more of a listener. I can talk when I have to but I find that I'm better at opening people up. If you know your strengths and weaknesses, then you'll know what you can work with.
The final little nugget of advice I can give is pretty simple, stay curious. If you're curious about someone then you'll have the want to talk to them and a load of questions to ask them already. Staying curious is the best way to start a conversation and to keep it going. People want to be appreciated and as long as you can give them that then you got your way in.