Like some great inventions, some great techniques in inter-personal relationships and communication are discovered by accident. I discovered one through such an accident today.
I was helping out in school (yes, I’m still studying!) as a facilitator during our Freshman Admission Day exercise when a group of facilitators (all ‘boys’) gathered and chattered eagerly among themselves. Apparently, they caught sight of a pretty freshman and were daring each other to make the first move to talk to her. She was alone and standing at a corner.
It took awhile for them to mumble among themselves before chickening out. By the way, these ‘boys’ were my seniors in school!
Whilst they were tripping over themselves egging on each other to make the first move, I was at the refreshments counter… when suddenly a thought came to mind. Picking up a cup, I filled it up with punch, walked over to the girl and offered her a drink – which she gladly accepted. We spoke on for the next 15 – 20mins… and I forgot all about the ‘boys’.
In all honesty, I’ve never really created ‘props’ like this before to initiate conversations. And today’s experience has highlighted to me the important role props may play where it comes to initiating contact with strangers.
Seriously, a conversation prop may serve as both a shield and a sword.
Allow me to explain the dynamics:
Taking this morning’s event as an example, since the lady was standing alone, my sudden approach could have had a startling and destablising effect on her. And especially for Asians, this sudden approach may appear weird since our culture dictates that we be more reserved, and we can be quite shy.
Secondly, since the room was bustling with people and she was standing alone, I couldn’t really be sure if she was a crazy psycho waiting to snap, or if she was waiting for someone else. Therefore, I needed a test to know her current state of mind.
Notice that there can only be two outcomes to my offer: She either accepts it, or declines.
Should she decline, I’d know that she’s not in the ‘friendly’ mode and it’s better to leave her alone. And since her declination of the drink is just that – a declination to drink. She was not rejecting me personally, and there’s no damage inflicted on my ego.
Now on the other hand, since she had accepted the drink, I knew that she had accepted my gesture of goodwill and that split second allowed me to determine that she was in a receptive state of mind. The result of the ‘test’ allowed me to take a step closer to knowing her better, and build on the conversation.
So here’s one more strategy you can use to initiate conversations and make the first move! If you like to know more about starting and maintaining conversations and the dynamics of small talk, feel free to check out my related posts below! I believe you may also find Doug’s comment about how the prop his dad used to initiate conversations under my post titled Conversation Starters.
Seriously, I think these are valuable resources for anyone who hates retreating into their shell whenever they want to meet new people, or for anyone who simply wants to make more friends! They are easy to use and execute, and don’t require much money to execute!
All one needs is the desire and willingness and knowledge on how to breakthrough!
Now go out check them out and make a new friend today!