Talking to a STRANGER
To start a conversation with a person you meet for the first time it is often helpful to go through a kind of ritual. The ritual will vary between races, ages, sexes and the status of the people involved.
This is increasingly important these days as many people spend so much time online that face-to-face communication is becoming a deteriorating skill.
Five of the best tips to establish a rapport with a stranger
* Find some common ground to get the person talking
The weather, the temperature, or the environment are common starting subjects.
Where a person is from is often a good topic, or where they grew up.
* Listen and observe carefully
Observe the body language and the dress of the other person. Their clothes may tell you something about their lifestyle or their interests and leisure activities.
Try to show a genuine interest in what the person is doing and gain their confidence.
“I like your tee-shirt. I went there some years ago and had a great holiday. When did you visit New York?”
“How old is your dog? What breed is it?”
* Aim to put the person at ease
Show empathy and be friendly and natural. Smile often. Work on establishing a rapport. Once you have gained the confidence of the person you can ask questions.
“Do you live around here?” ” Where did you grow up?” “Where did you go to school?”
Don’t be too inquisitive. Look for common ground with your questions and comments. Avoid controversial subjects and don’t ask too many personal questions.
* Don’t monopolise the conversation
Try to build on the other person’s views. Share information but don’t dominate the conversation.
* Know when and how to finish the conversation
End on a positive note. “Thank you. I enjoyed our chat and hearing your views. I hope we meet again soon.”
“You will please more people by listening to them than by talking to them.”
Source: “Time-Savers”, Moss Associates Ltd, New Zealand (www.mossassociate.co.nz) and “Time Management Secrets”, Cengage Learning Asia, Singapore and McGraw-Hill Australia. Also available as an E-book from Amazon.com.