How to Schmooze
|This is how I used to feel in a room of strangers.|
We're in Now Now
Where is that, you ask? Well, I am 100% okay with approaching strangers and starting and maintaining conversations with them. It definitely takes concentration and I can't say it's my favorite activity ever, but it's gotten easier and easier the more I do it. And I do find myself curious and enjoying learning about the other person in the conversation.
Permission to Schmooze
The class left me wanting to learn more, so I borrowed a book from the library about how to do small talk. This book gave me three insights that freed me from the mental constraints that were holding me back. Here is what helped me:
- It is selfish to wait for someone else to start a conversation. The point of this statement is that most people are probably feeling uncomfortable in the same situation as you. Many of them might like to initiate a conversation, but can't bring themselves to do it. So you need to bite the bullet.
- It is your social obligation to start conversations and keep them going. This was a life-changing concept for me, and related to #1 above. Part of what stopped me from initiating conversations was I didn't want to bother people. Changing my lens, and viewing the act of starting and and maintaining a conversation as an act of goodwill to society, gave me encouragement to do so.
- Continue engaging with someone until it's obvious they're not interested, or you get real engagement. You know when you ask someone how they are and they respond that they're doing well, and the conversation kind of ends there? The author writes that you need to keep going, delve deeper, until you get a real back and forth going. This lets the person know that you're genuinely interested, rather than just exchanging polite greetings. They will let you know, through their responses or body language, if they don't want to continue the conversation.