Friday, 16 December 2011

Social anxiety - part 2

Good conversation is one of life’s pleasures, but many people can find conversing with people they don't know, perhaps at a seasonal party or a work function, very daunting.

Following on from our blog post earlier this week, here are some tips on how to strike up a conversation upon entering a room. We hope these tips will help you through the party season and beyond:

  • Assess the room, eavesdrop on conversations and choose which discussion you want to engage in. There is no point joining a conversation you're not interested in or do not understand. 
  • Look for people who have open body language. These signals are invitations to join the conversation, e.g. those who return eye contact and stand with their body at an open angle. 
  • Mimic the body language of people in the conversation as this will establish rapport with them. Nod when they nod and lean forwards or backwards when they do. 
  • If you dry up in conversation, don’t panic. It’s probably not that you’ve got nothing to say rather that your internal voice is interfering with the other person’s words. It may seem obvious but try to concentrate on what is being said that way you will be more engaged in the conversation and your words should flow more easily. 
  • If it’s difficult to get a word in edgeways, identify the dominant speaker in the group, which may not be the person who speaks loudest or the most, but who drives the conversation. Respond to their words as it’s easier than trying to keep up with six conversations at once. 
  • Having a few questions prepared for any awkward moments can help steer the rest of the conversation.
  • If someone is being difficult then you may need to change your approach. If, for example, they are confrontational stand side by side instead of directly opposite them and use shorter sentences to try and get the conversation going.

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