Before I get into the details of conversation and how to start one, let us first take a look at the types of conversation.
Conversation can be broadly divided into two categories.
- Warm Conversation
- Cold Conversation
A warm conversation is one where we converse with someone that we know, like our friends and family. So there isn’t always a problem starting one as you are familiar with the person that you wish to talk to. However, most people find it hard to start a conversation with a stranger. A conversation with someone who you are not acquainted with is called a cold conversation. It’s just the first time that you speak with that person that the conversation is termed as cold. The next conversation that you have will be a warm one as that person is now on your acquaintance list.
There is a pattern that is followed in cold conversations as well as warm conversations. Here we will only discuss the pattern that is followed in cold conversations.
Let’s take it step by step.
Small talk can also be called an ice breaker. This is not necessarily the objective of the conversation. Small talk gives us a start and if good enough, can lead to a healthy conversation. For example, a person standing at the bus stop in the pouring rain sees someone who he would like to talk to, maybe a girl, he walks up and probably comments on the weather or the time. But, talking about the weather or asking the time is not the objective of the conversation. He’s probably attracted to her. So once she gets into his small talk he can take it to the next step of the conversation.
Many people say that the introduction part must come first. I differ from that point of view as it would sound rather cold to walk up to someone who you don’t know and brazenly introduce yourself. If someone walks up to me and introduces himself, the first question that would come to my mind would be, what does this guy want? Or “Is this guy a salesman”? So, my approach would be to first do some small talk, make the person comfortable and then introduce myself. That kind of makes sense to me. But then again, if you are charming enough to make an impression by introducing yourself first, go ahead and do it. It’s all about the confidence level that you carry.
This is an important step and will decide which way the conversation goes. There are two types of questions. Open ended and closed ended. Open ended questions are those for which you would get more than a ‘yes’ or ‘no’.These questions start with ‘what, why, when, how etc.’ These questions bring out a lot of information about the other person. Let’s take for example the following questions. How do you feel about the natural disaster that struck Japan? Or, why do you feel this way? These questions literally make the listener vomit out information. On the contrary, questions like, do you like this place? Would only give you a yes or a no. Instead if we ask the person ‘what do you like about this place?’ we would get a lot to hear from him/her.
Rephrasing is a factor that goes hand in hand with questioning. When you question someone, it’s very important that you rephrase the answer back. This ensures a couple of things. First, it shows that you are listening eagerly and second, it gives the person an opportunity to correct you if you got something wrong.
Last but not the least. This is perhaps the most important step in the entire conversation. This will define whether the person you started the conversation with will ever want to talk to you again. Always leave doors open when you are closing. This means that you can probably take a phone number, or perhaps an email address. If you just leave without getting information on how you would meet that person again then all your efforts are futile.
Important points to note
- First impressions are very important. If you have to make an impression, it has got to be done within the first seven seconds. That is how quick the human mind can judge a person at first sight.
- Grooming is a very important factor. One must be well groomed and well dressed to make that impression. I would rather talk to a guy who is well groomed and dressed rather that a guy with a big shabby beard or hair sticking out his nostrils.
Conversation is an art that is mastered by practice. I don’t say that this would work for you in the first go, however, with practice this is a foolproof method.
Please feel free to share your opinion.Image by Photostock