Fall is here and with it comes holiday gatherings. Of course you’ll see close family and friends, but you might find yourself with a new crowd. Maybe you’re meeting your significant other’s family, maybe it’s a business gathering, or maybe a new social setting. Whatever the occasion, it can be tough to jump into conversation with new people, so here are a few suggestions.
· Ask people about themselves. It’s easy to generate conversation when you show interest in someone. Go beyond the simple: "what do you do?” and find out what makes them tick. Do they have any interests or hobbies? Do they read or watch a particular TV shows. Hazard a guess – maybe they don’t love The Walking Dead, but they do love Orange Is the New Black. Even if you don’t share the interest, you can learn something new about it.
· Bring up your own interests. People enjoy talking to people with strong interests. Maybe cycling has been a great source of fitness, but it has also taught you more about the geography of your home. Maybe you’ve met interesting people through volunteering at a recent festival.
· Travel. Ask other dinner guests where they’ve been recently – if you’ve never been there, what do you know about it? Maybe they can shed some light on common misconceptions about a place or tell you about the fabulous meal from the hole-in-the-wall restaurant.
· Work. If the topic of work does come up, ask people more specific questions about their job. What kind of people do they interact with? What do they wish people knew about their job? What do they wish people would ask them about their job? Getting beyond the daily grind and into the deeper relevance of people’s occupations can get their wheels spinning.
· Current events. If you’re just meeting someone, it’s wise to steer clear of politics and religion. Maybe a recent human-interest story really spoke to you. Ask them if anything has stuck with them.
· Funny stories. Certainly you have a funny anecdote that never fails to amaze. Telling the story to a new audience can liven it up; you may even see it in a whole new light. Just give a brief overview and see if they can match it. No one can help but try to one-up crazy stories.
The trick is to show interest in what others have to say. Pay attention and ask questions, and you’re bound to win them over.