I love a good conversation with someone new or an old friend! Learning their stories, their gifts, being a resource for them, building on common interests and history. We all need to connect to other human beings and conversation is the way to start that connection.
The happiness report on the website www.actionforhappiness.org states: “People with strong and broad social relationships are happier, healthier and live longer. Close relationships with family and friends provide love, meaning and support and increase our feelings of self-worth. Broader networks bring a sense of belonging. So taking action to strengthen our relationships and build connections is essential for happiness.”
As you spend time with your clients, your family and friends over the upcoming holiday season, here are some tips from my book: The Guests Are Here! Helpful Hints for Easy, Enjoyable Entertaining! on keeping conversation flowing, which can lead to a deeper sense of connection!
9 Points On Keeping Conversation Flowing:
• If you are having a party where there are many guests that do not know each other, make sure to have some facts about each person at your fingertips
• When making introductions, you can say something like: “John this is Mary, Mary works at the bank on the corner and I know her from our kid’s swim team. Mary, John is an old family friend and went to school with my Mom, his kids were swimmers too. Then you can let them take the conversation from there, but you have given them someplace to start
• If you have a close group of friends and are inviting someone new into the group, ask a few of the others to make sure to include the new people in the conversation throughout the night
• I like to have conversation cards under the plates at the dinner table. Once everyone is seated we go around the table and everyone has a chance to ask their question and we get an answer from everyone. You can easily find a list of conversation starters online but I’ve included a few below
• Think of pleasant things to discuss and talk about before your guests arrive
• Participate in the conversation
• Don’t interrupt others while they are speaking, focus on listening to what they are saying. Remember: Listen and Silent have the same letters for a reason!
• Engage the people on both sides of you with questions about themselves
• If you’ve joined a group of people who are standing around and talking, and you decide you want to move on, you can often just walk away. It’s understood that people are going to drop in and out. You can quietly indicate you’re leaving with a quick little nod/wave gesture.
“A real conversation always contains an invitation. You are inviting another person to reveal herself or himself to you, to tell you who they are or what they want.” -David Whyte
Build in some time for a great conversation and be grateful you did!
Try out some of my favorite conversation starters:
- How do you know the host?
- How did you end up at this event?
- Where did you grow up?
- What is your favorite book/TV show/ music/ food, etc.?
- Do you have children/pets/family in town/ etc.? Tell me about them
- Tell me about a time when you ….
- What is the best question you heard today?
- Read any good books or listened to podcasts lately?
- If you were in a circus, what would your job be?
- What is the worst advice you got that you actually listened to?
- Tell me about something that made you laugh this week?
- Tell me about your favorite client/job.
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