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Meaningless conversation

For a verbal species, we certainly seem reluctant to talk to people sometimes.  It could be a holdover from your parents telling you not to talk to strangers but at some point, you’re going

to be thrust into a situation where being able to engage in meaningless conversation will come in handy.

So how does one walk up to a stranger and start talking?  You do just that.

  1. Find your target.  Take a deep breath, smile and begin with a simple introduction.  No need to come up with something witty and memorable, they won’t remember it either.
  2. Try to find something in common.  This is easy if you’re at a party (ask how they know the hosts) or at a specific activity/class (ask if this is their first time attempting the activity).
  3. If you’re talking to them cold, mention a current headline.  It helps if you keep well-read on the news of the day.  Don’t get too personal.
  4. Ask questions but don’t interrogate.  If they blow you off, don’t be upset, just say it was nice to meet them and move on.
  5. Practice extricating yourself from the conversation as well (it was lovely to meet you but I really need to wish Jenna a happy birthday).

Of course this will become more natural with practice so take every opportunity to do so – waiting rooms, cashier lines, public transit.  You’ll be surprised how quickly the fear of initiating a conversation fades.

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