Life is no fun when you have no friends! In episode eleven, we’re going to look at how to make more friends… from scratch.
I figured a typical bench in a park at lunchtime would be a good place to begin for this short tutorial, since this kind of setting is common wherever you are in the world. All you need is a seat and some sunshine!
Starting A Conversation
To strike up a new conversation smoothly, you’ll want to look for remarks that you can fire off without any rehearsal. Spontaneous observations that are delivered ‘off-the-cuff’ allow you to express yourself in an authentic manner, but there is a knack to it.
I prefer to start conversations with remarks that make me laugh just as readily as the people I am talking to!
Here’s a good habit to get into: be aware of your surrounding environment at all times. As you walk around let your attention drift upon things that quietly make you smile; whether that’s a dog chasing a pushbike, or a mischievous kid throwing a frisbee at his Dad’s head! If it makes you grin, it’s gold!
Doing this will really develop your initial conversation skills quickly, which is key if you want to make more friends easily.
As I approached the two seated girls, I noticed that they had both (for some unexplained reason) removed their shoes and tucked them under the bench! I was bemused by this quirky fact and the first thing that popped into my mind was the goofy idea:
‘I’m going to steal your shoes!’
Now, this might not have been the “perfect” line, but the thought of sharing that silly idea made me smile, so it was perfect. After all, I was already starting the conversation from a ‘Win/Win’ mindset: it’s either going to turn out well or make me laugh.
(NB. You can read more about the win/win mindset in Chapter 5 of my free ebook. Enter your details on the signup form on the right to get it now!)
The spontaneous icebreaker I used happily made both of the girls laugh, which was great. However, most importantly, my joke made ME laugh too, so I knew I was going to have fun!
Already the conversation was charged with some happy emotions, which makes everything else easier!
Keeping The Conversation Going
When you strike up a conversation with a witty observation, it’s easy to let the giggles fade into silence (and most people leave at that point). For the conversation to continue, you have to be different and keep the dialogue going: this often takes a focused effort on your part, so be ready for it!
You have to take full responsibility for the conversation as soon as you begin speaking, hence it’s best to continue enjoying the topic of conversation, no matter how anyone else chooses to react to it! To keep the conversation going, it’s vital that you take it upon yourself to keep your mouth moving as much as possible to begin with.
In the video, this happens the moment I ditch the joke and ask:
“Where are you from?”
Not the most exciting question to ask a stranger but I am showing an interest in them. At this point, I choose to listen carefully to their short answers and make reasonably long statements about what they say. Doing this helps the conversation along by introducing new topics to talk about and provides yet a further reason to stay in the conversation.
The situation is not uncommon: they are sitting and I am standing. This could just as easily be happening at a table in a bar or on a sun lounger by a swimming pool. It may seem common sense to sit down with them and join them on the bench straight away, but why rush?
The longer your conversation continues, the more comfortable the people you speak to will feel. I chose to sit down when they started asking me questions about my life, which showed that they were curious about me too. Sitting down at this point feels like a natural progression in the conversation.
(And it should do!)
I believe a pivotal point in any conversation is when you establish first name terms with the people you talk to. Some conversations with strangers can last hours without this formality passing. However, when people are spread out (such as in a park, or even a quiet airport terminal) I have found that learning a person’s name will accelerate rapport in the early stages of conversation.
From this point, the conversation flows pleasantly as we share stories about what we’ve been up to and where we are going during the rest of our day and life in general.
Once we have reached an invisible point where we all have around five cool facts we can share with each other, we have established a strong sense of rapport. From here all that is needed is to remain talking comfortably, suggest doing another activity (frisbee?), or take their details and meet them another time, which is what I demonstrate here.
Having great conversation skills is about making everyone feel comfortable as quickly as possible. When you make people feel comfortable, you easily make more friends. You don’t need the charisma of Bill Clinton to pull this off, just patience and a gentle persistence with the discussion at hand.
However, what should you do when your conversation doesn’t go to plan? See below for more tips!
Exclusive Bonus Video: How to Talk to Difficult People
The deeper into the Vault you go, the more valuable gems you’ll find! It’s never easy talking to difficult people! During a recent filming, I encountered another two women sitting on a park bench. One seemed warm, whilst the other was very aloof. I decided to make an exclusive video, revealing what I discovered when I persisted with the conversation and maintained a positive attitude!
You can only see the video on how to talk to difficult people on my Facebook Page (to find it, scroll down the wall to August 2011). Keep up to date with more exclusive videos like this one by clicking “LIKE” on my Facebook page once you get there!
When you’re ready, be sure to watch episode twelve and I’ll show you the very best way to approach groups of people and connect with them!