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How to Start a Conversation and Make Friends

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How to Start a Conversation and Make Friends


15 min read
10 take-aways
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What's inside?

How to step away from the sidelines, get into the conversation and connect with other people.

Editorial Rating



The easiest way to get to know people is through conversation. Don Gabor outlines the basics of engaging in conversation, and provides tips and techniques to help you overcome initial shyness, ease your way into good conversations and, thereby enhance your business and social life. He applies plenty of practical troubleshooting advice to many typical conversational scenarios, and points out some potential roadblocks that can impede good conversation. Before you even open your mouth, you need to become aware of your body language and that of others. Gabor suggests ways to build up your sensitivity to nonverbal communication so you can apply various conversational techniques, such as “active listening” and scoping for “hot button” topics to start, build up and maintain a dialogue. getAbstract recommends this primer as a quick boost to help you reach out and connect with people in all settings.


Body Basics

If you sometimes feel like a wallflower, examine your body language. You may actually feel that you’d welcome getting into a conversation, but if you cross your arms or don’t look people in the eye, your body is saying otherwise. Be in tune with your body language and that of others. Be sure you have an open, friendly facial expression and a ready smile if you want to give the immediate impression that you are open to conversation. Holding a hand over your mouth might be comfortable, but consider the subconscious impression this body language gives. To project a positive attitude, and show interest in others and what they have to say, remember “SOFTEN”: “Smile, Open Arms, Forward lean, Touch (for example, a friendly handshake), Eye contact (never stare), and Nod (show interest).”

When you first talk to someone, make an open, receptive impression by using a combination of techniques. For example, you don’t need to consider whether it is the right time to extend your hand in greeting if you’re the first to do so. If you find it difficult to look people in the eye, consciously build up your courage by making eye contact with people for very brief periods. ...

About the Author

Don Gabor is a communications expert who has written several self-help books, including Talking with Confidence for the Painfully Shy and Speaking Your Mind in 101 Difficult Situations.

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