What do you do when you are in a conversation and you don’t like small talk? If you want deeper conversation you will need to work on devising new strategies to become a better communicator.
You are going to the Christmas party. It’s lunchtime, a sit down dinner. As much as you like your work colleagues, you are sometimes wondering what to talk about away from work. In a recent coaching session, I helped my client find new strategies to cope with an upcoming dreaded Christmas meal so that he could enjoy himself and connect better with his colleagues. Today, I’d like to share the five best tips to help you get there, just as my client did.
1. Get prepared: Before the party, make sure you know one thing about each person around the table. Hobbies for example, or are they married? Do they have children?
2. Even if you are not interested in what they are, ask questions about it anyway: If they’re interested in football and you know nothing about the latest match, ask a general question about the players who are in the news, the huge fees they earn or the transfer fees they attract. Ask for their opinion, what do they think? Do their teams warrant the wages they pay or not? So you can start a general conversation and actually a controversial conversation which can make others really analyse and think a bit deeper. The same applies if your colleague loves canoes but you are afraid of water! But you know about physics and water, and flow and waterfalls and then other countries having hurricanes and so on. Perhaps you may ask how it works when the canoe is in a storm, or if there are a lot of waves, look at the subject from a different perspective. See this as it is literally thinking outside the box!
3. Come with the right attitude. If you have been to a few works parties and you think you can’t take anymore. Shift it. Think to yourself that you are only going to be with these people for a couple of hours at the most, maybe three. Decide to have a good time! Now whatever happens. It will be a nice place, it will be a nice dinner in nice surroundings. It could be worse, you could be stuck with your mother in law for a whole week end! So you need to shift your perspective from negative to positive. Another way of looking at it is that some people have got no other friends, relatives or work colleagues to go out with and to celebrate with.
4. If you dread being put next to someone you particularly don’t want to talk to, be assertive, request to sit next to people you want to talk to. Do it politely, be friendly, but be firm. If you are, then make the most of it, be open and just ask questions
5. What about asking someone who is generally quiet a question? Ask about their lives, take an interest in them. There are always people being left out for a number of reasons. Reach out to these people, it is their party too. They might be dreading the party too, maybe they need to hear my tips! There you go, there is a good conversation starter, how to deal with uncomfortable Christmas parties!
Enjoy instead of dreading the Christmas party! You can do it!
If you want more tips about speaking, confidence and communicating with ease, what about looking at my blogs? or join me on a course in the new year? I am running “Overcome your fears of speaking in public” course in Chelmsford on the 28th of January. Drop me a line to find out more!
Have a wonderful Christmas everyone! I am not being sarcastic!