For a lot of people, making friends is easy, but for the rest of us, it is something that puts us firmly out of our comfort zone. The good news is, that making friends can be learned behavior, and practice does indeed, make perfect.
Will Smith's character in Hitch said "it is good to have a plan" and this is exactly what we are going to help you do with these tip tips that you can practice during your interactions at Inside.bar.
If you want to make a good impression and do well at something, preparation can go a long way. This applies to a new task, like joining a gym or going for a new job interview. Doing some preliminary research will make the whole event more successful. The same applies to meeting people. Have some standard conversation starters prepared, so you don't have to battle to think of something on the spot. These are just openers that can offer you the opportunity to start a conversation. Contrary to popular belief, sending a simple message like hi, or hello is not very successful. Starting conversations with a little bit about you opens the door for a conversation to start. An example would be something like, "Hello, my name is John, I live in Barcelona in Spain and am an avid mountain biker, what about you?" By giving some information about yourself, it opens the other person to open up a bit about themselves. By responding with their name, location, and what they like to do, you have three conversation avenues to explore. Expanding the conversation and asking them for more information on what they have already volunteered with other open-ended questions, gets the conversation on the way.
The art of conversation is not to ask questions that may have a yes or no answer. This is too easy to shut down the conversation and leave you hanging. Asking your questions using the who, where, what, when, and how terms, can help you get better answers to your questions. Examples would be "wow, mountain biking, how did you get into that? or Do you go mountain biking on your own or do you belong to a club?, Whereabouts do you ride? What has been the prettiest place you have ever ridden?" you get the picture? By using these tips, you can have an endless conversation.
One of the biggest red flags to avoid is sounding like an interrogation. The questions should be spaced with some snippets about you and possibly even a story about an adventure. If you keep asking questions, you will run out of them in 5 minutes and not have anything else to say. Conversations are about a bit of give and take. Offering up some information about yourself will allow them to also get to know you.
A conversation is also about offering up some interesting information about you. Great stories that could be relevant to the topic will show them that you are engaged in the conversation. It is about taking a journey with the other person and getting to know them, alongside getting them to know you. Being genuine is the best way to make long-lasting friends. If there are aspects of the conversation that come across as fake or far-fetched, will soon get them to move on to the next person.
People do love to speak about themselves. So often we find people who are just wanting to vomit information about themselves, instead of taking it slow and allowing the other person to have space to speak or share their story without being interrupted. It is tough in an online world where you can't always pick up on tone or facial features and expressions, so you can be more definitive about these emotional cues to put the other person at ease.
You should never be the most boring person in the room. Brush up on a wide variety of topics, so you can have some opinion on them. You may not be the biggest football fan in the world, but a five minute read online can allow you to have some conversation on the topic. For example, if the person is European, they most likely have a favorite team, asking them about that is one way to get to know something more about them. You can ask them about their thoughts on players looking to transfer this season or how they like the team's coach and why?
Nothing will stop a conversation in its tracks by someone not paying attention to the chat. It is like that irritating person irl, who is always looking over your shoulder at the door to see if anyone is interesting coming in or flitting from group to group without adding any value. This type of behavior is not conducive to making the other person feel valued. So take the time to focus on that one person and stay engaged with the conversation. When the time is up and you feel you want to move on, a simple "it was really great to chat with you, let us do this again sometime soon" will suffice. There is no need to hedge your bets when it comes to a great conversation.
Nobody likes to be or feel rejected. If you are going to be away from your keyboard or cam, let the person know so they are not left waiting for a response that does not come. Ghosting on chats can leave the other person feeling worse than when they first logged on. If you are not feeling the conversation, rather be polite and end the chat so that you can both move on without the feeling of rejection.
It is difficult when you don't want to hurt someone's feelings, but it is often much better, to be honest with your intentions than try an cover up a reason for leaving or not coming back for a chat. The most interesting people can be found in the most unusual places. Often, older or shy people have the best stories, it is just about making them feel comfortable to share them.
Now, this does not mean telling them the time. It is about chatting to anyone and everyone. There are so many great people out there and sometimes first impressions are not always great. There have been so many people that land up being the best of friends, who met in the most unlikely ways. It is about opening up your horizons to meeting new people, sharing in their stories, and getting to know them for who they are, that we start to appreciate the differences in us all.
Friendships and becoming a connoisseur conversationalist is not an end goal. Meeting people should be a constant practice, every day. Soon, you will discover that you can start and hold lasting conversations with people and leave the meeting with a sense of fulfilment. If someone walks away and says, "what a great person that was, they are so interesting" then you have met your goal.