Having recently moved towns, not knowing many people here, I don’t have an established social network of friends I could call on or that will call on me like I did in my old town for many years!
As a single woman in her early 40’s, with no kids .. which would be a sure fire way to make small talk with other mum's and no job with ready made colleagues to chat with and not even a dog to have people engaging over walks with! Most would find the task of not only finding new and interesting people to meet but also to strike up a conversation with them daunting! NOT ME! I am loving this part of my journey. I get to engage with strangers, share who I am and what fills my life and makes me tick.
Do you struggle to strike up conversations with people you have only just met? or Even find yourself stuck when talking to someone you know and see regularly? Keeping a conversation going can be a challenge!
So here I am 40.. something, single, no kids, working for myself, no day job, no dog just me myself and I … Yes I chose to do this!
Those of you who know me will know that I am a happy talker and I love to socialise but I am also happy to retreat, be in silence and at complete peace with no one else around me! I also know if I chose to much of the later it will be much harder to make friends here …. SO how do you do it! How do you make friends, start a conversation and keep the small talk going?
Recently, I threw a few of my friends into the deep end with this, on my most recent birthday. Having already moved to Wanaka I decided I wanted to go back to Queenstown and get a group of friends together, some of whom had never met each other to enjoy a late afternoon early evening get together. As they turned up 1 by 1, I introduced those who didn't know one another, their name and a little about who they are and what they do! Knowing they all have me in common and most of my friends live a holistic lifestyle it was easy to find a connection to get them started chatting with. And I loved it.. I thrived as I watched them all chatting, laughing and creating new friendships within my groups of friendships… I also know that some of my friends struggle when meeting new people, when in larger groups, or in social situations in general. I was so proud of them all, well they are my friends after all and I wouldn't be my truest LEO if proudness wasn't something I strive for!
At home in Wanaka a few days later, a couple I’ve met through a coffee group invited me to join them and their friends for dinner, I jumped at the chance, I was thrilled they’d asked me. Now I AM a social butterfly, but I am not going to pretend anything other than what I can only describe as 1st day nerves kicked in for me and my head ran riot with thoughts of... Who are these people? how many will be there? I bet they’ve all known each other for years! What will I say? What if they ignore me? Can I jostle to sit next to the 2 people I know at the table, or would that be too weird? Oh gosh what will I talk about? How will I even start a conversation? …. All this and more was running through my head, and these thoughts are quite unfamiliar to me so to be bombarded with them all at once on the invite of a dinner party was a new experience for me!
Being the conscious person I am, aware of my thoughts I’d catch them as they kept creeping up on me, I;d acknowledge them, laugh at myself and reassure myself that ‘I’ve got this’ ‘i love this’ ‘I thrive on this’ So I decided not to ask the hosts any questions and dive in blind because I knew I’d be fine and I believe in me! My night was awesome, 12 at the table and I feel I made 9 new friends in one evening, some may become valued friends, some may be the hello how’s everything going friend you sometimes catch eyes with in the small towns 1 and only supermarket .. but either way it is a total win.
I know for others, many of my clients and friends included its not that easy.and natural for them to strike up a conversation and keep it going. So below are some tips on how to strike up a conversation with someone, even If you find small-talk challenging, a good conversation technique can really put you at ease and help avoid the awkwardness of you twiddle your thumbs, looking around the room for helpful inspiration in the ‘what-to-talk-about’ awkward silences.A few years ago I came across
The FORM method. It stands for:
Using these prompts can keep a conversation alive and get you chatting easily. So if you ever find yourself struggling to find something to talk about this can help
1. Family and Friends
Many (but definitely not all), love to talk about their family or friends and I include pets here too! This is often a great way to get to know people better, talking about either yours or theirs if they show willing too!If you’e at a social gathering, you could establish how you both know the host? Paying attention to any common links, other people you may know,.If you have more mutual friends, how did the other person meet them? Tell them how you first got to know the person. How long have they known them? Asking, where are they from? Where does their family live? How long have they lived here? Does the person have any children? How many? How old? What’s their favorite things to do? Are they sporting, artistic, play music? Are they single or in a relationship? married? What does their partner do? If the person is in a relationship, are they thinking about getting engaged? How long have they been with their partner? If are they single, who is their ‘perfect match’?
This opens up a whole range of interesting conversation about work, study, schools, and even aspirations. Does the other person have a job, or are they looking for work?If they are employed, What does their job involve? Do they enjoy their job? Is it rewarding? Did they study? How did they come to work in their chosen career? What other jobs have they had?If they don’t have a job: What would they like to do? How do they spend their days? What was their last job or study? Are they looking for work or enjoying life as it is?
A great way to get to know someone for who they are and not what they do is to find out what interests them, even if it’s not how you chose to spend your time, it’s always fascinating to learn what others enjoy to do. If you start by asking questions that relate to your interests and hobbies you could find common ground easier as it something your passionate about to!You may discover you’d both love to try the same activity, and the season can play a big difference!. Do you prefer summer or winters here? Do you Ski or Board? What's your favorite Ski field? Have you ski’d anywhere else in the world?Do you Mountain Bike? Hike? Climb? Do you kayak? Lake or river? Do you SUP? or you may find yourself addicted to the same Netflix series! Was it as thrilling as you hoped? Or did you find the plot obvious? What will you watch next?Do you enjoy music? Do they go to gigs or festivals? what's their favorite band live? Who would they love to see?
We all have dreams, goals and desires, what motivates them? What gets them out of bed in the morning?Best holiday ever? Dream holiday? What’s on their bucketlist?What were their childhood dreams? Are they living them? What drives them to live the lifestyle they chose? Each of these areas can have you engaging in conversation easily and naturally, and you may find yourselves having talked all night without even realising it! Living in the region I chose, I am lucky that most people I meet are passionate about a hobby, mainly involving adrenalin rush and the outdoors, which can be great topics filled with passion and stories. Also so many of the people here were not born here and have moved from another country, again this makes for easy conversational ground, exploring cultures, histories, why they made the move and what’s next. I am privileged to have such diversity to not only start but to keep fascinating conversations going. And before long you will find the FORM technique will have you chatting with ease endlessly about all sorts of interesting things to! Angie x