My brother, Stan, and I were talking about how great a conversationalist his young son is. He said, "The only thing that concerns me is that he gets quiet and shy when he first meets people." I explained, "It's uncomfortable for a child to meet someone new and know what to say. You can prepare him ahead of time with the questions he'll be asked so that he can have his answers ready. For example, "What grade are you in?" "How do you like school?" "What's your favorite subject?" This will give your son a chance to know his answers beforehand. He'll feel more confident interacting when he knows what to say."
A few days later, Stan told me that my advice worked well. He also explained to his son that he should let the person he's talking to answer a question. He said, "You should ask, "How was your day?" Stan told me that people were impressed with how articulate his son is and pleasantly surprised that he asked about their day.
Social and business situations can be stressful, even for adults. We don't always think about how we're going to respond when asked to speak about ourselves. Suddenly, we get tongue-tied, trying to remember the name of our favorite book or talk about the last movie we watched. It's easy to feel nervous when you don't know what to expect, but a little preparation goes a long way.
Take a moment and think about the people you're going to be meeting. Is it a networking event, a party, or a first date? If you're discussing your business, have a clear and concise message prepared. The last thing you want to do is 'um' and 'ah' your way through a conversation about your work. You don't have to memorize verbatim a written speech, but you should practice what you want to say so that it comes across naturally. You'll find yourself feeling polished and self-assured. Remember to take the time to listen to others and follow up with your new connections.
A social event is a fun way to be introduced to different people. It's a more casual and relaxed environment. Still, it helps to relieve any anxiety you may have by visualizing the party and imagining what types of questions you may receive. Think about what interests and hobbies you have and how you'd describe them. Walk into the room with your shoulders back, your head lifted, and smile. Your body language will convey an openness that will attract people to you and put your mind at ease.
Listening to others as they communicate their thoughts on different subjects allows you to be mindful. Your focus is not on yourself anymore but on them. When we intentionally listen and not formulating what we're going to say next, we create a relationship with that person. We all appreciate being heard and not talked over while we're sharing our opinions. We develop mutual respect and have an enjoyable conversation.
It's easy to ask, "How are you?" and expect a simple answer, "I'm fine, and you?" The question, "How was your day?" and genuinely wanting to know is a beautiful expression of love and compassion. It means you're taking a moment to listen, and lets that person know they're valued. When my nephew asked me, "Aunt Celeste, how was your day?" I said, "It was perfect. Thank you for asking." He said, "Tell me why it was perfect." Our conversation made my day.