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How To Start A Conversation With Anyone Without Awkward Silence

How To Start A Conversation With Anyone Without Awkward Silence

“That’s a fine looking chandelier over there, and wow…. how did they even get that huge octopus ornament into the club?”

I’m never too good around my wife’s new friends or colleagues, especially when she’s just ditched me for the restrooms. More often than not, I tend to seem busy in thought because that’s just me. Draw the “Awkward” curtains, it’s time to sit around in silence for a while. But maybe I could try to start a conversation? Maybe not. But what do I say?

“Hey, you come here often?”

“No.”

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Awkward much?

So just before you decide to commit mental suicide like I did multiple times when my wife left me alone with her friends, consider applying the art of drowning out the awkward silence. Simply just repeat these three words in your head until you’re left alone, “I’m not here… I’m not here… I’m not here”. You’ll magically disappear like a fade-out scene and never get to hear from anyone from that night again!

But if you’re looking to break the ice with lesser transgression, check out these tips and tricks to avoid the awkward silence:

1. The Art of Observation

One of the best techniques to break the ice with people you’ve just met is to simply observe before you speak. And by observe, we do not mean ogling, especially at parts unknown. That’s creepy.

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Observations that could turn into potential ice breaking questions could be that eye catching top they are wearing, the new mobile phone they’re pressing into their ear or that dapper hairstyle they’re carrying. You can then change these observations into questions such as, “That top is nice, where did you get it from?”, “How’s the new mobile phone that you’re using? I’m thinking of changing my phone” or “Where did you get your haircut from, I’m looking for a new stylist.”

2. The Conversation Ratio

Rule of thumb: two-thirds of the conversation should be about the person you’re speaking to and one-third about yourself. Why? So that the conversation doesn’t turn from ice breaker to “how to shut down a narcissist”. To be clear, the goal is to never impress during the first impression but to get them to impress you instead.

Dr. Jeremy Nicholson, writer at Psychology Today, says that most people go wrong when they try to impress too much, which ends up in getting themselves judged instead of evaluated. By sticking to the two-third rule, ask them anything that could make it seem like you are evaluating them instead and have them prove themselves to you during most of the conversation.

3. The Praise

Praise is a tricky technique because most extroverts love it, but most introverts can see through it. So before praising someone, you have to first find out whether they’re extroverted or introverted. According to Psychologist Laurie Helgoe, author of Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength, introverts see no meaning in small talk which is nothing more than a barrier between people and real interactions. If you’re talking to one, you can probably figure it out as soon as you say, “Wow, I really love your hair!”

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When praising, it’s good to stick to behavior, accomplishments or clothing because praising someone’s size, shape, weight or looks can go both ways.

4. Look For Differences, Not Similarities

Because we’re all wired to look out for similarities in other people, since we started reading Agony Aunt articles – “it’s best that you sit down with him to end things on a good note because you both have nothing in common” – we tend to neglect the beauty of differences that can make a conversation deeper with more understanding of each other.

Furthermore, being hellbent on looking for similarities can lead us to feeling frustrated so it’s always good to keep an open mind to be accepting and to build meaningful conversations around those differences.

5. Conversation Combo Moves

Success in breaking the ice all comes down to being able to bust a string of combo moves then delivering the final finishing move to make your listener submit by saying, “I really like talking to you.”

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All you have to do to create a combo move is to know which buttons to push, and by that, we mean using topics that are relatively easy to digest, and expanding on them as you go along. Topics can be their favorite restaurant to go to or their favorite sport to watch, and they shouldn’t be “what do you think about Donald Trump’s policies for immigration?” Topics that require a certain level of general knowledge should be avoided at all costs.

Do not let topics slip away so easily. For example, if their favorite restaurant is on Mckenzie Street, you can probably ask whether they live around the area and if they do, you can ask about how long have they lived there or maybe what else is around there in case you would like to visit someday.

Yes, You Can Break The Ice With Anyone!

Even if you’re an introvert, breaking the ice with anyone just takes practice and a lot of trial and error. Just remember that for a first impression, you shouldn’t be judged by trying too hard to impress, but be qualified just by being yourself. Keep an open mind, and we hope that you’ll stop pretending to look at chandeliers and octopus ornaments just to avoid an awkward silence.

Featured photo credit: How smart dining will add fun via youtube.com

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Last Updated on June 24, 2019

Why Social Media Might Be Causing Depression

Why Social Media Might Be Causing Depression

A study [1] published in Depression and Anxiety found that social media users are more likely to be depressed. This was just one of the huge number of studies linking social media and depression[2] . But why exactly do platforms like Facebook and Instagram make people so unhappy? Well, we don’t know yet for sure, but there are some explanations.

Social Media Could Lead to Depression

Depression is a serious medical condition that affects how you think, feel, and behave. Social media may lead to depression in predisposed individuals or make existing symptoms of depression[3] worse explains[4] the study above’s senior author Dr. Brian Primack. So, the problem may not be in social media per se, but how we use it.

Signs You’re Suffering From “Social Media Depression”

If you feel like social media is having a negative impact on your mood, then you may be suffering from “social media depression.” Look for symptoms like:

• low self-esteem,

• negative self-talk,

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• a low mood,

• irritability,

• a lack of interest in activities once enjoyed,

• and social withdrawal.

If you’ve had these symptoms for more than two weeks and if this is how you feel most of the time, then you are likely depressed. Although “social media depression “is not a term recognized in the medical setting, social media depression seems to be a real phenomenon affecting around 50% of social media users. As explained in a review study[5] published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, if a person has a certain predisposition to depression and other mental disorders, social media use may only worsen their mental health.

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Social Media Could Crush Self-Esteem

We know that social media and depression are in some way linked, but why is this so? Well, according to Igor Pantic, MD, Ph.D.[6], social media use skews your perception about other people’s lives and traits. To explain this further, most people like to portray an idealized image of their lives, personal traits, and appearance on sites like Facebook and Instagram. If you confuse this idealized image with reality, you may be under the false impression that everyone is better than you which can crush your self-esteem and lead to depression. This is especially true for teens and young adults who are more likely to compare themselves to others. If you already suffer from low self-esteem, the illusion that everyone has it better off than you will just make you feel worse.

Causing Social Isolation and Other Negative Emotions

Another commonly cited reason for the negative impact of social media on mental health is its link with social isolation. Depressed people are more likely to isolate themselves socially and chose only to interact indirectly through social media platforms. But communication online tends to be superficial and is lacking when compared to real-life interaction explains Panic. What this means is not that social media leads to isolation but the other way around, possibly explaining why we find so many depressed persons on these sites.

Lastly, social media use may generate negative emotions in you like envy, jealousy, dislike, loneliness, and many others and this may worsen your depressive symptoms.

Why We Need to Take This Seriously

Both depression and social media use are on the rise according to epidemiological studies. Since each one has an impact on the other, we have to start thinking of healthier ways to use social media. Teens and young adults are especially vulnerable to the negative impact of social media on mental health.

Advice on Social Media Use

Although these findings did not provide any cause-effect explanation regarding Facebook and depression[7], they still do prove that social media use may not be a good way to handle depression. For this reason, the leading authors of these studies gave some suggestions as to how clinicians and people can make use of such findings.

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One suggestion is that clinicians should ask patients about their social media habits. Then they can advise them on how to change their outlook on social media use or even suggest limiting their time spent on social media.

Some social media users may also exhibit addictive behavior; they may spend too much time due to compulsive urges. Any compulsive behavior is bound to lead to feelings of guilt which can worsen depressive symptoms.

Having Unhealthy Relationship with Social Media

If you feel like your relationship with social media is unhealthy, then consider the advice on healthy social media use provided by psychology experts from Links Psychology[8]:

Avoid negative social comparison – always keep in mind that how people portray themselves and their lives on social media is not a realistic picture, but rather an idealized one. Also, avoid comparing yourself to others because this behavior can lead to negative self-talk.

Remember that social media is not a replacement for real life – Social media is great for staying in touch and having fun, but it should never replace real-world interactions.

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Avoid releasing personal information – For your safety and privacy, make sure to be careful with what you post online.

Report users who bully and harass you – It’s easy to be a bully in the anonymous and distant world of social media. Don’t take such offense personally and report those who abuse social media to harass others.

The bits of advice listed above can help you establish a healthy relationship with social media. Always keep these things in mind to avoid losing an objective perspective of what social media is and how it is different from real life. If you are currently suffering from depression, talk to your doctor about what is bothering you so that you can get the treatment you need to get better. Tell your doctor about your social media use and see if they could give you some advice on this topic.

Reference

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