Do you know how to start a conversation with someone you’ve never met before? Or that person who has become an acquaintance but with whom you are not intimate? Many may feel that there is nothing wrong with this situation, but there are those who feel extremely uncomfortable in everyday social interactions.
Starting and maintaining a conversation can be a source of great anxiety. After all, how do you know what the other person is thinking? The discomfort of those who are socially anxious is actually not related to the other or the environment, but rather to themselves.
In this post, you’ll understand why some people get stressed when they interact with others and how to reduce discomfort in social interactions.
Why is it hard to know how to start a conversation?
Conversation is the exchange of information, courtships and opinions between two or more people. In some cultures, “small talk” is highly valued.
In the United States, for example, small talk is excessively practiced between acquaintances and strangers. The approach starts with a compliment or a comment about the weather, developing into a conversation about the day’s activities, the neighborhood where he lives, work, among other subjects.
The words come easily and fit together so perfectly that the topic never seems to end, even if it’s a brief conversation. However, not everyone masters this fluidity of speech.
For people who are anxious, shy, or very introverted, it’s a challenge to know exactly how to start a conversation. Thoughts pile up inside their heads, making them nervous during a social moment. Apparent nervousness ends up disrupting their conversations and, at times, preventing friendship or affective ties from developing.
“What comments to make?”, “What to do if the other person frowns?”, “What if they ignore me?” and “Will I bother?” are some examples of anxious thoughts that affect the social interactions of this group of individuals.
They are caused, above all, by anxiety. Through it, negative feelings and emotions are manifested, such as pessimism, insecurity, fear of judgment and shame. So, simply thinking about how to start a conversation becomes a problem of gigantic proportions.
Obstacles to socialization
If you fit into the group of individuals who cannot dialogue with others, don’t worry. People who have difficulty socializing often feel bad about being socially inept. Unpleasant comments (“Strange”, “Smug” and “Awkward”) contribute to the fixation of negative opinions.
But not knowing how to interact with others is a very common problem shared by thousands of people. You may simply be a more introspective person who prefers to observe and contemplate rather than participate. There’s nothing wrong with that.
When talking becomes exhausting and a reason to avoid meeting anyone outside the safe environment of the home, this awkwardness becomes a problem.
Like it or not, we live in a society that needs a constant exchange of favors so that survival is guaranteed. Knowing how to start a conversation is not just a matter of cordiality, but of forming useful connections to survive, grow and prosper.
Next, look at the main impediments to healthy socialization. They will help you identify which elements are present in your life.
How to start a conversation and make social moments more comfortable
The extremely shy person doesn’t know how to start a conversation with someone he doesn’t know, even when he needs to interact with another person to resolve a problem. When she manages to maintain a connection, she feels nervous until the end of the conversation and doesn’t say what she would have liked to say.
The fear of others’ judgment ends up affecting their relationships, professional and academic performance, and also their enjoyment of life.
Social phobia is the fear and anxiety of being exposed to certain social contexts, resulting in isolation or avoidance of behavior. The person with this phobia fears being the target of humiliation and is ashamed simply for being who he is. The worry is so intense that it accompanies physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, sweating, dizziness, tremors, and retching.
Agoraphobia is similar to social phobia, except that it focuses on the fear of being in public or busy places with no possibility of escape in sight. This disorder leads to social isolation and, in severe cases, to the fear of leaving one’s home.
Places that can cause an anxiety crisis are: markets, shopping malls, a line of crowded establishments (bank, bakery during peak hours), theater, cinema, classroom, among others.
Pathological anxiety makes the daily lives of people who suffer from it less fruitful, joyful and productive. That’s because it promotes disorder.
emotional and disconnected thoughts, turning simple activities into daunting challenges.
It also gets in the way of social interactions and the deepening of friendship bonds. As the person cannot communicate properly, he starts to avoid moments of socialization that generate discomfort.
Panic Syndrome causes sudden anxiety attacks, increasing the panic person’s discomfort in social environments. That way, she starts spending more time at home and avoiding friends and family so she doesn’t find triggers.
Low self esteem
Lack of self-esteem creates problems that spread to various areas of life. People with low self-esteem cannot relate to others because they think they are inferior, ugly, uninteresting, among dozens of other defects that only reside in their heads.
How to start a conversation?
Starting a conversation is not as difficult as it sounds. It’s not scary either.
Although there are people who notice behavior and appearance with meticulous attention, most do not care about these details. The speech content and the quality of sensations provided by interactions are more important. These are the elements that will stay in the memory of other people.
To provide them, you can practice starting a conversation. That’s right, practice is an excellent way to end stress in social moments!
The tips below are intended to reduce your discomfort in social interactions and also promote the practice of dialogue.
If you are very nervous talking to people, practice deep breathing daily. Practice facilitates the execution of relaxation techniques, improving your performance for when they are really needed.
Before leaving the house or approaching someone, take a deep breath (with description, if you wish) to calm down and be able to think logically during a conversation.
make small talk
Most people aren’t interested in deep conversations. They don’t even remember the topic discussed when they return home or minutes after the conversation ceases. This is because the “small talk”, or the small talk seen above, is intended to distract and entertain people in moments of leisure.
In the checkout line, at the restaurant, at the arrival of the food delivery boy, on public transport, among other social contexts, people just want to pass the time.
In these situations, you can talk about what you did the day before (a meal, a hobby, a conversation about a current topic), comment on the weather, or share an to-do that you are on your way to do.
After the first contact, let the other person speak. Conduct the conversation by asking questions about your profession, an interest, where you are, and a hotly discussed topic at the time.
There is always something going on in the world and people love to talk about popular topics like TV shows, music and virtual app trends. Ask questions about it and add comments if you like. Remember, however, to keep the conversation light.
If the other person is not open to answering you, that’s fine. Don’t push the envelope and stick to your own. You may feel slightly embarrassed, but ignore that feeling. Interactions like this happen all the time.
Share your interests
How to start a conversation and make social moments more comfortable
We are happier when we talk about what we like! So talk about your favorite sport, a hobby you love, or the last movie you saw and liked.
Share your thoughts on recently consumed series, TV shows, books, or music. If the other person has done the same, the conversation will be very nice! Also, to create intimacy with someone, ask about their tastes and show interest in finding out more.
Seek conversation with multiple people
This tip can be daunting for those who aren’t used to socializing often. However, a great way to learn how to start a conversation without getting nervous is to start a conversation with several people. Delivery people, waiters, cashiers, doormen, drivers and store employees…
Take silent quizzes and challenges with yourself and make small talk with as many people as possible. Most are happy to have a distraction from the same routine of work. If you find someone grumpy, just move on to the next person.
Eventually, you will get used to the exercise and feel more comfortable starting conversations with acquaintances and strangers.