I used to be shit at conversations, I didn’t know how to have a conversation at all and I certainly didn’t know how to keep one going if a person started talking to me.
It doesn’t have to be as complicated as we think, hopefully with this cheat sheet you can start practising the art of talking to other human beings and in no time at all you’ll be a conversational wizard!
So take a deep breath (or 10) shake out those trembling hands and dive in.
How to have a conversation when you have social anxiety
“It’s lovely to meet you, I’m Kel” – This is how I introduce myself to people assuming I already know their name (if their prospective clients at meetings, or friend of a friend for example) but you can use others such as..
“I’m Kel, I’ve heard lots of good things about you from *insert name here*”
“Nice to meet you, I’m Kel, What’s your name?”
“I’m Kel, I’m friends with *insert name of mutual friend here*”
Ask Questions –
“So, how are you?”
“Oh I love your necklace/shirt/jacket etc., where did you get it?”
“What do you do for a living?”
“How do you know *insert mutual friend here*”
“What have you been doing today?”
“What do you like to do in your spare time?”
“How did you both meet?” – I usually ask this one to my wedding couples at meetings if they haven’t already told me before, could work great if you’re meeting a couple at a party
“What type of music do you like?”
“What kind of films do you like to watch?”
“Do you have any kids?”
Ask these questions slowly, thoughtfully and adding your own bit to the conversation such as “ahh that’s really nice” or “I love that too, I do it all the time” etc. so that they don’t feel as if they’re being interviewed.
Out and About –
If you’re out and about and in a situation with other people, a bus stop, a lift, a busy shop etc. sometimes it’s nice to break the tension or just strike up a quick conversation with a stranger.
“Which bus are you waiting for?”
“Wow, it’s hot out here today, I’m melting” – People love to talk about the weather. Notice how on facebook if it snows, storms, is extremely sunny… every one will have a status up? Weather is a hot topic. Pun intended.
“Is it always this busy in here?” “I’ve never seen it this busy before” “I think we might be in this queue ’til next Tuesday, what do you think?”
People you already know –
“You look happy, What have you been up to?”
“What are doing this weekend?”
“Remember when we *insert memory here*”
“How’s the new job going?”
“How is *insert name of partner/child*?”
“Do you want to come over on Saturday and *insert activity*?”
“I love your hair like that, it really suits you, where did you have it done?”
Ideas to keep a conversation rolling –
Ask them for their opinion on a topic, perhaps a recent news article you read.
If you ask them a question, follow their reply up with something like “oh right, why is that?” / “Great, what is it you enjoy most about it?” / “How did you get into that?”
If you’re in a group situation, ask a question that leads to a longer reply, or leads to a possible funny story, like “What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you?” / “What’s the funniest thing your kids have ever said?” / “What would you rather be *insert comparison of two things here*?”
Get people to elaborate on what they’re saying. “That’s cool, tell me more about that”
If you find that you have mutual interests, discuss these more.
Getting out of the conversation –
If the conversation starts to thin out, don’t panic that you’re going to freeze or you’re bad at this. Every conversation has to end sometime. If you quit while you’re ahead, you’ll have a better lasting impression. Try one of these phrases to end the conversation..
“Anyway, It’s been great to meet you / see you, I have to get going now but hope to see you again soon”
“I’ll let you get back to what you were doing now, but it’s been lovely chatting to you”
“Sorry I can’t stop, it’s been great catching up”
“I’m just going to go mingle some more, but hopefully talk to you again later”
“It was nice meeting you, do you have an email/facebook/number so I can get in touch with you again soon?”
Hope you find these helpful. These are just some general things you can say but if you’d like more specifics just ask in the comments below.
What conversations have you had recently and what areas do you think you needed to improve? Please share.