Let’s Talk More: Hints and tips to help you get started
Talking to people you don’t know can be a bit awkward. It can also be a bit intimidating. We get that, but it shouldn’t be that way. It might be a bit out of your comfort zone at first but after a while it will feel like the most natural thing in the world.
Go at your own pace, and start small to build up your confidence. Research shows that even people who are reserved or shy find interacting with strangers has a positive impact on their mood.
If you’re worried about taking the plunge and chatting to new people, we’ve produced some hints and tips which will help.
Small gestures such as smiling or just saying good morning to people you pass in the street are a good place to start.
Ask open questions
‘How are you?’ is a good opening line but, in reality, it’s almost a closed question as most people will answer ‘fine, thanks’. Instead, try asking for advice or an opinion, commenting on the weather, or sharing something you might have in common.
Nonverbal communication makes up a minimum of 60% of our communication, so smile, uncross your arms and lean in. That also means making yourself approachable by putting the phone down and taking out the headphones
Get out there
Going to evening classes, attending a workshop, learning a new sport or volunteering can open up opportunities to meet new like-minded people.
Set yourself goals for talking to new people every week, for example at your bus stop or train station, learning the name of the shop assistant at your local newsagent or having a conversation with a neighbour.
What if people don’t want to have a chat?
Not everyone you start a conversation with is going to talk back. And that’s fine!
We all value our quiet time. We all lead busy lives. Some people will not be up for a chat. It’s important to respect that and not take it personally.
Look for non-verbal cues that make you think a person is open to having a conversation – if they make eye-contact or acknowledge you – that should give you some indication as to whether they want to chat.
It’s important that you respect a person’s decision not to talk back to you and only talk to people who feel comfortable doing so. Don’t take it personally. But on the whole you’ll find most people – despite some initial awkwardness – love a good chat.