The title of this post comes from something my hubby always tells me. He constantly teases me that I could “talk to a wall.” Which, to be honest, I probably could. I love meeting new people and learning their stories. I am that annoying person you sit next to on an airplane that wants to chat (#sorrynotsorry).
Luckily, research has shown that people who are more social live longer and healthier lives than those who aren’t. This isn’t meant to be a post full of #humblebragging though – it’s meant to be a post to show you how you can do the same thing and find fulfillment in it! Not to mention, learning to work a room is an excellent career tool.
So how can you go from being the wall flower to working a room? Using these skills below you can make killer connections in both your personal and professional lives.
(1) Flattery gets you everywhere
Seriously though, striking up a conversation with a genuine compliment (note: GENUINE), is a great way to get the ball rolling. Who doesn’t love to take a compliment? . . . Actually, most women struggle with this and Amy Schumer NAILS it in this video (FYI – NSFW):
Despite this though, even when we have a hard time taking compliments, we still appreciate getting one. It can even be something somewhat superficial, such as
“I couldn’t help but notice your gorgeous purse! I love it!” or something more serious (see below on Eavesdropping).
You can also use this tip, even if it’s in a group setting. Something such as,
“You all seemed like the liveliest crowd in the room, so I had to pop in to find out what was so fantastic!”
So long as you don’t barge in during the middle of someone speaking or give a phony compliment, flattery will easily smooth your path into joining in and engaging in a conversation.
We all do it. Let’s just put that shit out there right now. But you can use that skill to your advantage when you want to jump into an ongoing conversation. If you are at a party or work event, as you are going to replenish your drink or get some food, listen to some of the conversations around you. What are they about? Is there something that piques your interest? (Note: Don’t be obvious and creepy and don’t do this just to spread gossip. Only use this tool for good!)
If you do find something that sounds amazing, there are three key points to follow:
(1) wait until there is a pause in the conversation
(2) open with an apology for eavesdropping
(3) throw down your conversation gauntlet.
It should sound something like this:
“I couldn’t help but overhear your discussion on Olivia Pope’s fabulous Scandal wardrobe. I am absolutely in love with that show as well, so I just had to hear more!”
“I apologize for barging in, but I overheard your discussion about how America is the last industrialized nation that doesn’t offer mandatory paid maternity leave. I am so passionate about what an injustice this is that I had to come listen to your discussion.”
I do want to add the caveat here that I think women over-apologize (I am guilty of it too), but in this situation, where you are jumping into an ongoing conversation, I do think it is appropriate out of politeness.
(3) It’s All About Them
This rule of thumb I have read in books and learned from my father (thanks, Dad!). Everyone loves to talk about themselves (even if they claim they don’t). So one of the best ways to get someone talking who may be a little hesitant (or if you are the one who is unsure of what to say), is to open with a question about them. First, introduce yourself, then get them chatting by asking them questions about themselves.
If you’re at a social gathering,
“Hi, I don’t think we have had a chance to meet yet. I’m Amanda! [shake hands, let them introduce themselves] It’s so nice to meet you, [their name]. How do you know [the hosts]?”
If you’re at a work event,
“Hi,I don’t think we have had a chance to meet yet. I’m Amanda! [shake hands, let them introduce themselves] It’s so nice to meet you, [their name]. How long have you been working for [the company]?”
and then you should be off to the races.
Other questions include:
- What is it you do?
- How long have you lived in [wherever you live]?
- Have you tried this crazy Snapchat thing yet? [Sidenote: find me on there The Color Coded Life]
- Have you tried Periscope? I’m still figuring it out! [Sidenote: You can also find me on there @ColorCodedLife]
- Do you have any pets?
- Have you been to see [name a movie currently in theaters]?
If you use step four below, you can keep the conversation going for awhile.
(4) Find a Connection
The most important thing to do with all of these rules is to find something that connects you. Research has shown that when you find a bond with someone, no matter how tenuous, you can increase their feelings of likability towards you.
And you can literally bond over almost anything. I randomly bonded with a guy I sat next to in Starbucks (it was one of those booth seating arrangements with tables individually in front of you) over the horrible, awful, soul-sucking entity that is Sallie Mae and student loans.
I used step 2 above (I heard him earlier on the phone with the IRS talking about the student loan deduction) and said, “I couldn’t help but overhear your call. Isn’t Sallie Mae the work of the devil?” He laughed and we ended up chatting for close to half an hour.
You can also share in a complaint, as long as it’s not too serious. Such as,
“Can you believe how hot it’s been here lately? I think I might melt!”
You definitely don’t have to pick something as depressing as Sallie Mae or the weather. It can be something such as you all growing up in the same state, or went to rival colleges, or both love to shop at Target (which I am pretty sure is every woman, ever).
But no matter what you choose, finding a connection is a great way to take a step forward to getting to know someone, or even just having a great conversation.
Download the cheat sheet below, and feel free to reference it if you ever need a little more conversational pep in your step!
I hope these four tips help you to go out there and conquer the world with your mad conversational skills! Do you have any other tips you think I should have included? If so, let me know in the comments!
Until next time, my loves! Have an amazing weekend!