mardi, septembre 18, 2007

Hello My Name Is....

Making small talk is perhaps one of my biggest challenges. I wish I knew where it came from because I'd like to unravel it and grease my social abilities just a little bit more.

Nothing's more awkward than not knowing how to go just a step past breaking the ice. Even worse is talking in a group. As a woman, this is critical knowledge. I grew up around all men except for my mom, and most of my friends are men. This needs to change. But back to that conversing and hanging out in a group thing. Very quickly I can find myself drifting to the outer banks of a group like a small object in a river. What would be a lot more preferable is to be in there going along for the ride.

Deep down is an extrovert that I can't seem to plug into. It's like there's a crimp in the cord and I have to hold it just a certain way to make things work. Does anyone out there have any general tips on small talk or mingling in group? What goes through your mind as you approach a group? And without calling attention to yourself in a "needy" manner? For the record, needy is the worst. Ever. But drifting into a one on one conversation that you can't seem to extract yourself from is much, much, much much much much much worse. I'd rather be part of the fun.


Anonymous Phil Gerbyshak said...

How about asking a question first, to break the ice, and get others talking first. Like what's the last book, last movie, last TV show, last magazine, last article, last something, someone else has read. Then ask a follow-up question as simple as "Really. That's interesting. Tell me more." And then listen intently. Hopefully you have a response, so then you respond. And it just goes from there. Be interested, and you'll appear interesting.

And smile. Smiling helps break the ice too.

Last, don't be shy about sharing your passions, and let folks ask questions about it. Passionate folks love other passionate folks, so share it, and others will feel it too, and want to plug into you.

11:39 PM, septembre 18, 2007  
Blogger David B said...

Just my two cents worth on this. One of (the many) jobs I had while a platoon SGT in the 101st was to get new soldiers to our Brigade buddied up and working as part of the team.

The social aspect of this led me to discover that new soldiers who became "part of the crowd" versus those who did not was almost completly based on either shared experience or extraordinary experience.

Shared experience, for instance, meant that a new super shy soldier who happened to be coming from a posting in Korea was almost immiediately part of the group that also had that experience. They had terms and experiences that they could all relate to, and more importantly, extrapolate to fit current situations.

Soldiers who had extraordinary experiences (presidential detail or sniper qualifications) had enough of that "new car smell" to keep them centered into a group until they became an integral part of it.

Perhaps Phel instead of trying to become more a member of the group you should look at having experiences that match your target group. Do a lot of them play tennis or kayak for instance. If they do, then give tose things a try and you will have something to relate to them in conversation that they are already attracted to.

7:30 AM, septembre 19, 2007  
Blogger Fuzz Martin said...

As a guy who constantly takes part in group projects and presentations with people that I know nothing about, I have some advice for you:

1.) ALWAYS look everybody you're talking to in the eye. It's all about confidence. You want people to trust you and take credence in what you're saying.

2.) LISTEN to what everybody else is saying. It sounds simple, but if you drift, you're out.

3.) Break the ice with ONE person first, and snowball it from there. It's kinda like trying to get everybody on your side at jury duty. Get one person, then the both of you can get others on your same page.

4.) Sometimes I'll lightly poke fun of something or someone (outside of the group) to get a smile on my group's faces. If you get them smiling, talking to them is simple.

5.) Be the first mover. Offer some info and ask a question that everybody in the group can answer ("I'm Phel, what are your names?;" "The flight from Milwaukee was terrible. How were your flights?;")

6.) If all else fails, ask, "Did you hear what Fuzz Martin said on the Morning Buzz with Fuzz this morning? Man, that guy is friggin' hilarious!!!" ;)

Just have confidence in yourself, Phel. The people in your group want to be able to talk to you, too. That's the nature of group dynamics. Everybody wants to be able to get along with everybody else (save for the catty girls). If you speak first, you'll look like the natural leader of the group, and they'll all respect you more for it.

4:30 PM, septembre 19, 2007  
Anonymous Basher51 said...

Phel, I am in the same boat as you. I'm very bashful around strangers. Even at events that I'm invited to I never feel comfortable until others start talking to me first. I'll be intested to read the responses.

9:38 PM, septembre 19, 2007  
Blogger Phelony Jones said...

This is really great information everyone. Thank you so much for posting it, the fact that you had so much to offer shows me that this is a visible thing, but also universal.

Phil, I like the approach of "tell me more/what else?". In the past day I've tried that and have been amazed at how much more information I'm able to get - especially on a professional level.

David, welcome and nice to have you here! I often forget to ask people about their interests. Mostly I make assumptions about who will/won't like me or that I'll be able to relate to. My interests are so varied and odd, and it surprises me that some people...seem to have good social skills...but don't seem to have many interests. Guess I need to ask about them because I could be wrong....

Fuzz. Fuzz Martin. Extrovert Extraordinaire :) Those are all excellent, and you've taken the stigma out of it. Confidence is such a biggie. As an introvert with a quiet demeanor, it can appear that I'm not confident and sometimes I'm actually not. But a lot of the time I'm fine... just trying to figure out what to say and I think listening and the eye contact are probably key. Sometimes I have trouble with eye contact because my eyes are all over the place when I'm thinking. It's very distracting to people but I can't think without it.

And what if you lightly poke fun at someone outside the group and they're somebody's sister? Or mama!!! ;P

Thanks everybody - this is super helpful just to hear it from normal people and not...a book. And more comments here will always be welcome. I'll be watching, I'm sure Basher will be too.

10:25 PM, septembre 20, 2007  

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