As language learners, we are always keen to practice with new people we meet who speak the language that we are studying but there are a few things we must always keep in mind when being introduced to new people for the first time.
Rules, we hear you say! Not exactly rules but more of a rough guide to make sure that your conversations always flow well and to help you avoid awkward situations or silences.
1. Look for common ground
If you have just been introduced to someone at a party by a mutual friend and you need to make conversation with them, the most important thing to do is to look for common ground to establish a conversation.
In this instance, the party and the mutual friend make up the connection. This is instantly what you should be using to get the conversation going.
A: How do you know Dave?
B: He was my flatmate at university.
A: Great! Did you guys have many parties like this one there?
B: Yeah! Those parties were crazy! How is it that you know Dave?
As we can see from this short introductory conversation, using common ground such as the mutual friend and the situation that is occurring is a great way to stimulate a conversation as well as practicing your English with the person that you have just been introduced to.
2. Keep the negativity to a minimum
After being introduced to someone for the first time you need to remember that the last thing they want to do is listen to complaints so make sure you keep negative thoughts or comments hidden or to a complete minimum.
We recommend doing this as if you start to complain while meeting someone for the first time, they may not want to get to know you anymore because they could think you are a serial complainer instead of a friendly person.
Additionally, complaining or being negative just creates a negative mood to begin with, so it should go without saying that it should be kept to a minimum so positivity can prevail and hopefully make the encounter go as well as it can.
3. Always act interested
There is nothing worse if a conversation starts well but then suddenly falls flat and dies creating an awkward silent atmosphere- so don’t let it happen!
We understand that thinking in English can sometimes be a little complicated especially in a situation where there is a little more pressure but we are sure you would rather that than have to endure the awkwardness of wanting the ground to suddenly swallow you up.
Baring that in mind, it’s recommended that you always take an interest in the person’s hobbies or job as you may find by asking questions about these that you have a lot more in common than you think.
By taking an interest in someone’s life when you have just met them should, in theory, encourage them to ask you questions so that there is actually a full two-way conversation and not just a one-sided interrogation.
On the other hand, if the person generally gives off the impression that they do not want to ask you any questions and you have already asked them a lot of things, return back to the neutral conversation to maintain balance.
4. What you shouldn’t mention is important to remember
Like most languages, there are issues in English which should not be discussed with strangers or people you have just met in order to avoid an awkward situation.
In English, issues which should be avoided are generally known as “taboo topics”. Some of those include money religion and politics just to name a few.
If someone happens to engage you in conversation in the direction of a taboo topic, approach with caution and be careful that you do not offend anyone or be offended yourself for that matter.
How is this politely avoided?
A: Did you say you worked at Apple?
B: Yes I did
A: How much do they pay you?
B: Enough to survive. Where was it you mentioned you worked again?
As we can see from the example above, the taboo topic involved was money but the awkward situation of discussing salary was politely avoided by giving a generic polite answer and diverting the conversation back to the fellow interlocutor’s job.
This is obviously not always possible but try to adopt a calm method as such all of the time if you can.
Now it’s time to meet people and practice!
Now all that’s left is to practice everything you’ve learned.
Check out this other article for more ideas on what to say and avoid during a first encounter so as not to create an awkward silence.
Remember that with our online course you’ll be able to perfect the many different aspects of English so that you’ll be able to express yourself like a true English speaker.
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