If you love to strike up conversations with random people at the drugstore, move on. These are tips for those among us who dread being thrust into conversations with colleagues, family, and unknown party crashers during the holiday season party roulette. But you made it through med school, brutal residencies and fellowships, so with a little help, this will be a piece of cake.
Starting a conversation is the hard part. Most of them will go on autopilot after that, so try:
Lead with a sincere compliment. Your opening line will make the other person feel good. Be specific, e.g. “Love the lederhosen.”
Ask “Why” And Listen
Usually we ask why, especially when we’re nervous, we fill in the blank. “Why do you like fishing? Is it being outdoors, or fighting the catfish?” Wrongo. Just ask “why do you like fishing,” and listen. You’re guaranteed to get a more thoughtful reply and maybe a story.
When someone else asks you a question don’t give a monosyllabic answer. Elaborate, tell something about yourself, and get colorful.
Don’t Drift Away During Small Talk
Think of sports tidbits, the traffic on the way to the party or weather reports to talk about. It’s hard to jump into a conversation about existential angst or the fall or the Roman empire without warming up a bit first.
Friendly and agreeable is a lot better conversation tactics than blunt and curt. Relax and go with the flow!
Keep It Light
Unless it’s a political rally or a church event, steer clear of politics and religion. Opt instead for a conversation about the holiday traditions or your favorite bit of yuletide nostalgia.
Cool Party Tricks for Introverts Watch Your Body Language
Maintain eye contact. Avoid a defensive posture like crossing your arms. And whatever you do, don’t stare at your phone the whole time. Show people that you’re truly interested in what they have to say.
We all love sharing our knowledge and special stories. Here’s your chance to play detective and find out what makes other people tick. Who knows, you might just end up enjoying yourself and making new friends. And we can all use more of those.