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How to start a conversation

(9 Posts)
Cordelia Fri 28-Apr-17 16:19:25

I seem to have lost the art! When I was working I used to be a veritable chatterbox but now I'm retired and I'm no longer making idle chitchat I seem to have forgotten how to do it. Every conversation I've had recently with new or newish people the conversation just seems to die away and it becomes really awkward - that's if it gets started at all! I'm going to a family wedding at the end of May and I'm seriously beginning to panic I won't be able to make normal conversation with anyone. My husband has of course tossed my concerns aside as being silly. Any tips on being more sociable? blush

Esspee Fri 28-Apr-17 17:02:48

Just concentrate on the person you are speaking to. People love to tell you about themselves. Let them lead the conversation and please relax.

thatbags Fri 28-Apr-17 17:10:13

What esspee said is what my mum said to me when I was a teenager and feeling awkward in social situations where everyone seemed older and more confident than I felt. At a wedding you can ask how far people have come to attend, what their connection to the young couple is, etc. Good luck!

HildaW Fri 28-Apr-17 17:17:49

Having been brought up in a very non chatty family - both parents were rather anti social (for quite different reasons) its taken me a long time to learn to chat.
I totally agree with Esspee - being interested in the other person is the key. Listening to their answers is also important....sounds simple but I know some people who just jump in with something quite unconnected.
Then its all about the balance.....letting the other person say something and then adding your own comments that ARE appropriate.
In the early stages of getting to know someone I do feel it can seem like a bit of a performance, you do have to work at it and watch what you say (or how you say it) till you get the measure of the person. Matching the intimacy levels - not saying too much too soon and then not dominating the conversation because you've hit on a subject that really sets you off.
I do a few hours voluntary in a small village shop and its been a great way for me to flex my conversational muscles. People tend to come in for a chat and are happy to 'play the game'. Once you get to know someone - then you can take the breaks off and not be quite so careful.
I am not saying one should be in anyway false or not themselves.....just edit the impulse to say the first thing that pops into your head!
I was once told that one should never discuss politics or money......until you REALY know someone......mind you that's a sore subject with some people all the time.
To sum up, its a bit like the moment in Pride and Prejudice - when Elizabeth Bennet criticises Mr Darcy for being too aloof.....she tells him he needs to practise more! wink

Nannarose Fri 28-Apr-17 17:22:44

Well, the wedding is easy:
How do you know [couple]?
Have you come far?

I often use 'have you come far?' in many situations, as you usually then say 'Oh, that's a lovely place / I know X who lives there' and if need be 'Have you lived there long?'

Although I agree in principle with esspee, there are some shy people who answer the question and and don't give you anything much to carry on with. I find that some people will often talk more if they feel you have shared something.

Weather is safe, and if I feel I need to 'keep going' a bit, I'll say something like ' And we're hoping it will be this nice / nicer than this next week, we're going to a festival / next month when our friends are having a garden party'. This usually lead to some sharing about what people are doing.

If they say something about a topic you don't know much about, you can say 'how do you find that works out? are you glad you did that? do you find that uncomfortable / pleasant / whatever'.

And don't be afraid to tell a funny family story (edited for blushes) which invites their similar anecdotes.

And in the end, if they are really not going to be drawn, just accept that is how some people are, and see someone across the room you really need to talk to.

And if it all goes belly-up, then store it your treasure chest of anecdotes - like the person I met who on hearing I had been a NHS nurse all my working life, proceeded to instruct me on how mistaken the concept of a socialised health service was!

Oh, and it's not 'silly', it's what people who care about others' comfort do.

Christinefrance Fri 28-Apr-17 17:23:10

Yes Esspee is right show an interest in the person you are talking to and let them tell you a bit about themselves, the rest will follow. Try to relax and enjoy hearing about another person, usually works.
Good luck.

Newquay Fri 28-Apr-17 19:28:38

Yes I agree with all above. I've said for sometime now I think I've turned into the queen asking folks "have you come far?". Good eye contact too shows you're interested.

Jalima1108 Fri 28-Apr-17 20:13:15

I met someone I had never met previously yesterday and we chatted all evening.
I don't think his wife minded ! but we had a really good gossip.
Mind you, we did have a few mutual acquaintances.

HildaW Sun 30-Apr-17 16:14:51

P.S. I do find that an honest compliment can work too......much easier when everyone is dressed up too. Thus....'Oh I really like that necklace' etc.........will get you started.