Conversation can be considered an art. It requires a certain skill and flourish to start conversations and maintain it interesting and genuinely engage the other party. Some people are just natural conversationalists and can start a conversation without any effort. Others, on the other hand, find it difficult to converse with other people, much less start one. But even if you consider yourself as one of the latter, there’s really nothing to be worried about. Just like any art, effortless conversation is something that can be learned.
One of the things that you should develop if you want to start conversations effortlessly is your body language. People get subconscious cues from other people’s body language so you must be aware of this if you want to strike up a conversation. Keep your body relaxed and learn gestures and hand positions that indicate you are ‘open’ and ‘welcoming’. This means not clenching your hands or your jaw, never crossing your arms and learn to gesture in a calm way. Don’t stand at attention, rather make sure you have a relaxed posture and leg position. You shouldn’t cross your arms and legs as well if you are sitting. Your eyes are also important. Engage the person you are talking to by looking them in the eye so you’ll have their attention and they will know that you are being attentive. Do not look down or around you when the other party is speaking. And most importantly, do not forget to smile
Watch your body language. People’s impressions are influenced not just by what you say, but how you say it. Are you smiling? Are you making eye contact? Do you “look” friendly? Little gestures can subconsciously give off a defensive or arrogant vibe; clenching fists, crossing arms, clenched jaw. Other mannerisms, such as talking too fast or waving hands wildly can make you look nervous. To look open and relaxed, just stand straight, arms loose, with a natural smile.
A personal connection is also a great way of starting a conversation. Try to find out a common ground between the two of you. It could be the same alma mater. An interest in a hobby or a favorite band. Find out what it is you share with the other person and it is a surefire way of starting a conversation that you’ll both be interested in. (Read our tips on making a good first impression.)
A great sense of humor is actually a great conversation opener. Nothing can break the ice more than a good joke that cracks everyone up. Even the most socially guarded person will be disarmed by something that will make them laugh. So try to hone that sense of humor if you want to be a great conversationalist.
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