Start a Conversation! and
BY LISA B. MARSHALL
When I was young, I remember being
embarrassed by my mother — particularly when
we were standing in long grocery store lines.
No, she wasn’t swearing or chewing tobacco...
she was making conversation!
SHE WAS TALKING WITH STRANGERS.
Turns out, though, she was teaching
me a very important skill — how to break
the ice and start conversations. So it’s not
surprising to me how popular this topic
is. It seems the art of conversation really
is a lost art (and clearly not everyone had
a mother like mine)!
So how exactly do you start a conversation?
For in-person conversations, it boils
down to five things. First, you need
to cultivate a zen-like attitude toward
conversation-making. Second, you need
to pay attention. Next, you need to be
genuinely curious and ask questions. But
you also need to be careful. And finally,
you need to practice.
That’s it ... really! So let’s talk about the
Cultivate a zen-like attitude
What do I mean by a zen-like attitude?
You need to let go of self-conscious
and judgmental thinking. Be yourself.
Introverts — read carefully — you do
not need to be an extrovert! The most
important thing is to be you.
Talk real, act real, and be real. Being
yourself allows you to be comfortable,
confident, and consistent. For me, it helps
to remember that most people are happy
to engage in a conversation and really
appreciate it when someone else takes
Ask a few questions to quickly find
common ground. People build bridges
between themselves by discussing things
they have in common. Think of small
talk and questions not as insincere conversation, but as tools for swiftly discovering what it is that you have in common
with someone else.
Pay attention to everything
So how exactly do you come up with
appropriate questions? It’s simple. You
just need to pay attention.
Pay attention to your immediate environment. Do you see or hear something
unusual? Is someone wearing an interesting watch or tie? Is there music playing?
There is always something you can comment on.
Pay attention to the news. What’s
going on at your school? What’s in the
national or local news? What’s the current buzz in pop culture (celebrities, TV
shows, movies, You Tube videos, “