Have you ever had a conversation toward a new person last only a few seconds? Or filled with awkwardness? Of course, we all have encountered this scenario! Over time, we learn that the generic “Hello, how are you?” is kind, yet seldom spreads the conversation further. It leaves gaps and can make a person feel insignificant, answering “good” to that question numerous times. Ready to boost confidence and become original in greetings?
The fundamental step to getting beyond a “hello” is to remember information. If this is someone you know fairly well, recall your last discussions. Did your coworker mention their grandma was sick and needed daily care? Ask how she’s doing, and be supportive. If it’s someone new, work in your best power to remember their name, face, and first discussion. It really makes the second one go smoother!
No matter how well you know someone, there is always more to discover. A great technique is to go beyond your typical questions. Those are always helpful of course! Yet also present open-ended questions like “Are you looking forward to Monday’s summer festival?” in order to discover their personality. If they seemed to shy from the topic of a public gathering, you might learn they dislike large crowds or noises.
Dash of Creativity
Creativity, you can never get enough of it! A large issue that has presented itself time and time again is the lack of originality. If you follow the ideas here and add your own personal twists, you are set to go. Like how we identify pets differently, we connect to humans in unique ways to ourselves. It is important to find ways to “identify” what connects with this person. Whether you know they enjoy a bit of humor, deep discussions about environmental issues, or light talks of home decor, use it to the best of your ability. Get creative!
Observation is a vital key in creating great conversations. Watch their body language, keenly listen, and pay attention to the surrounding environment. If they look drowsy and you recall their having to move, ask how that is going and if they would like help. Perhaps ask if they are having struggles sleeping, and offer some tips to aid them. You want to put yourself as their equal (or even in terms of the “servant”) in order to be a wonderful friend, family member, or acquaintance. If it is your first exchange with someone, observation is still a fantastic key.
Fantastic advice! Yet how do I start?
I am so glad you have made it this far! If you recall, a couple of weeks ago I did a post on the creative aspects of making communication easier. This time we went further into the first few words that leave our lips. I feel that if we can go beyond the “How are you?” into something that connects with each individual person, our discussions will become truly memorable.
Dialogue Notebook: This is a simple way to keep discussion topics orderly and fresh in your mind. Grab a notebook, or your phone, and write down the important subjects from previous discussions. Put the date, person’s name, and what things you can come back to later. For instance, it could be their sick grandma, their trip to New York, or latest photographs. You can even write down things you wanted to mention to them next time. Check on this every so often to refresh your memory and you are set to go!
Phrase Cards: If you are a Doctor Who fan, you might recall that 12 had “Nice Cards” so he could attempt to kindly respond to rough situations. In this case, the 12th Doctor lacked sufficient skills in conversation. If you find yourself in a similar situation or have social anxiety, feel free to write down some cards! Unlike the Doctor, I recommend not using these in an actual discussion. Yet if you write down some nice phrases relevant to that current time such as, “Are you looking forward to the festival?”, “Work vacation is near, what are your plans?” and so forth, it will help wonderfully. Like the Dialogue Notebook, pull this out to build up your vocabulary of discussion starters.
Now armed with both communication skills from my previous post and discussion starters, I feel we are set to go. Take a deep breath, and keep in mind that everyone responds to certain questions in various ways. Learn what works best for each person, and you shall be on your way. I wish you the best of luck!
Until next time,
Ashlee G., Author of Creative Thinking Well