Perhaps right now you have opened a chat for an online dating service and are thinking about what to ask an invisible interlocutor. Or you have to work face to face with a new colleague, and an awkward silence periodically hangs in the room. Or maybe you are about to have your first dinner with your partner’s parents, and you are terrified of what to talk about with strangers.
“If you care about your digestion, my good advice is not to talk about Bolshevism and medicine at dinner,” Professor Preobrazhensky advised Doctor Bormental in his story “Heart of a Dog”.
Communication experts advise that you also avoid talking about politics, money, sex, personal life, religion and work. However, even after this, there are many topics for an interesting conversation. Let’s review a few proven ways to connect.
What can you talk about with cultural workers, and with employees of factories, and with young acquaintances, and with elderly relatives?
1. About native places
According to behavioral analyst Wendy Patrick, people can hide their address and phone number, but willingly join in the conversation about the city or village where they spent their childhood. A touch of nostalgia gives the theme a soulfulness.
Ask a couple of leading questions – and the interlocutor will quickly get carried away by the story about the peculiarities of his native land, its nature, local cuisine and architecture, and remember something from his past. In his words, you can find “clues” to continue the conversation – perhaps you have something in common. Maybe you are fellow countrymen or grew up in a similar place, with the rhythm of life close to his native lands.
2. About children and pets
If you know that the person you are talking to has children, remember that this is most likely a great topic for questioning. The only exceptions are situations when a person has lost a child or is in a tense relationship with offspring. Before you finish your question, your new acquaintance will already reach into his pocket for a smartphone to show the photos.
Children, as a rule, are the pride of any parent. People boast of their achievements almost more than their own, the success of children raises the self-esteem of moms and dads. By talking about them, you give the person the opportunity to open up from the best, in his opinion, side. And if you get tired of looking at his children, think about the progress that you have already made in communicating with your interlocutor. Well, or ask him about pets, if he has any. And get ready to look at the photos again.
3. About travel
Whether your interlocutor saw penguins in Antarctica or traveled with his family to the sea, or maybe went on a camping trip to Altai or traveled half of Russia by car – each of these trips can become a topic of conversation. Again, the trip is not so personal as to embarrass a person and violate his personal boundaries, but it evokes a sufficient emotional response so that he gets carried away by stories about what he saw interesting in certain regions.
Effective communication guru Dale Carnegie wrote that people really love to talk about themselves. And if you want to win the sympathy of the interlocutor, give him the opportunity to talk about your life within the framework of common and safe topics. In response, most likely, the person will show sincere attention to your person. And this is already a great start for a relationship that can grow into friendship or partnership.