Learning how to start a conversation is a key skill in life, my Butterfly.
But it can be so hard to do when you have social anxiety.
I get it. I really do.
It can be so difficult to quieten that voice inside your head that says “She doesn’t like you – look, she’s judging you already, you look like an idiot” enough to spit words out that actually make sense – let alone conduct a 2-way exchange of opinions and value.
But it CAN be done.
And once you know the steps to creating amazing conversations, you will never look back.
I say “steps” but really – there’s only 2 steps:
2: Ask questions.
Two really simple steps.
Looks super-easy on paper (or the screen…)
But the difficulty comes with putting these steps into action.
Nothing new there!
Ok so let’s dive right in, and talk about HOW TO START A CONVERSATION:
To begin, let me just say that these steps are exactly the same, no matter how you’re conversing with the other person.
Whether you are talking face-to-face, or via phone, or text, or messenger – the steps are the same.
You start by GREETING the other person.
Or “G’day” or whatever.
If in doubt, ALWAYS say hello.
Always greet the other person.
Don’t wait for them to greet you.
Waiting for someone else to greet you first gives your power away.
It can become weird, very quickly.
So much social awkwardness comes from each person waiting for the other to take charge.
It doesn’t work – YOU need to step up and START this conversation.
So – greet them.
If they don’t respond, try greeting them again.
If they don’t respond a second time (and there’s no emergency situation that requires first aid for them – if they are conscious and lucid) walk away.
Don’t even bother pushing on with a conversation with someone who is not going to engage with you.
Being ignored rarely happens in person – this usually happens via phone (they don’t answer) or text or messenger (they don’t respond).
That said, I HAVE been straight-up ignored when I’ve tried to start a face-to-face conversation before.
Their problem not mine.
Anyway – usually, when you greet someone, you will get a RESPONSE.
They will say “hi” back.
If you’re really lucky – they will say more than just “hi” and will actually pick up the conversation themselves.
In that case – hurrah!
You just need to listen and respond and ask questions accordingly.
But in many cases, you will just get the simple “hello” back.
Which is fine – because you know what you need to do next:
ASK A QUESTION!
Make it simple:
“How are you?” or
“How are you feeling” (if you know they have been sick and you know them pretty well) or
“How awesome is this weather?!” or
“Fancy running into you here! Do you shop here often?”
A simple, friendly, conversation-opening question.
Hopefully, at this point, the other person will answer beyond one or two syllables – this is ideal.
If the other person responds with a question themselves that YOU can answer, then BOOM – you’re in conversation, baby!
But often, when you’re speaking with people, you will get a one-word, conversation-stopping answer:
Or something equally small.
This is usually where you run into danger of the conversation becoming awkward, but not anymore – if you take this next step to really get the conversation flowing:
Ask another question – something UNRELATED to your first question.
This changes the subject, starts the conversation fresh on a new footing and provides a new opportunity for the other person to engage.
It doesn’t need to feel weird either – timing is everything in this situation.
So: After your first question – after the single-world answer, make sure that your conversation partner isn’t going to say anything else.
3 seconds of silence should do it – enough to create space, but not enough for things to get awkward.
Then ask another question – equally simple, but on another topic – for example:
“How is your mum?” or
“Are you enjoying this wonderful weather we’ve been having?” or
“Have you been to the new shop that’s opened at xyz location?”
Again, this provides a fresh new opening for your conversation partner to answer beyond a syllable.
NOW: If the other person is actually interested in talking to you, this exchange will have given her time to get over the initial shock of needing to converse and prepare her mind for a chat with you.
So if she only answers with one word THIS time, you can conclude that she isn’t interested in talking and you can go about your merry way.
It’s THIS stage that most people are afraid of.
The feelings of judgment and rejection – humiliation that you have put yourself out there by trying to start a conversation only to be shut down.
Those feelings are very normal, my Butterfly.
But it’s important to know that this type of reaction (no engagement – one-word answers) is very rare.
It does happen – but it’s rare.
And when it does, you need to know that you’ve put in your best effort.
You gave her – not once chance – but two.
You gave her an opening, and then when she didn’t respond to the opening, you gave her a chance to recover her wits and you gave her ANOTHER opening.
And if she doesn’t jump at the chance to converse with you, it’s important that you know it’s still a win for you.
Why is it still a win?
Because YOU have social anxiety too my Butterfly – but you still TRIED.
You still opened yourself up and gave another human being a chance.
And it’s highly likely that the other person, once she has recovered her own sense of mind – will engage with you somehow.
He or she will offer you an olive branch of some sort – a text message or a fb message or similar, just saying something like “Hey, sorry I couldn’t stop and chat – my mind was on other things” or something like that.
Allow him or her to own that.
And let him or her take responsibility for the flow of conversation next time.
Because YOU have put in the effort, and that will have been noticed by the other person.
If you constantly struggle to build the confidence to start conversations, try this healing exercise:
Once your mind and body are quiet, see yourself in a bubble of perfect white light.
The white light extends about a metre out from your body, all around, in an oval shape around your body.
The white light touches your skin, and it permeates the surface and goes down into the layers of our skin cells – flooding each and every cell with pure white light.
The white light floods everything it touches with healing energy. It sinks down further, into your bones, into your marrow, into your torso, into your organs.
The white light sinks into every part of your body and gradually comes to meet itself in your core – at your solar plexus chakra, which is just above your belly button.
Focus your attention on your solar plexus chakra. It is golden yellow in colour.
Feel the white light heal and energise your solar plexus – feel the warm, slightly tingly energy as your solar plexus awakens.
Feel the space that is created as your muscles in your solar plexus area relax and allow the healing energy to do its work.
Feel that sunny, vibrant confidence begin to grow in your solar plexus. Stay with this sensation for a minute. When you first feel it, it may feel a little foreign. It may be new to you, but on a level, you know it. You recognise it, and you acknowledge it as you.
Welcome this new confident sensation into your energy field.
Feel your confident energy work its way down, through your reproductive chakra, down to your root chakra at the base of your spine.
Send this energy down to the core of the earth. Feel the earth receiving this energy, and sending it back up to you.
You receive the confident energy back from the earth 5 times as strong as you send it down. It is now imbued with grounding earth energy.
It lights up your root and reproductive chakras as it comes back up to settle in your solar plexus.
Breathing down into your tummy, on the exhale you bring the confident energy up into your heart chakra. Allow it to sit for a moment and feel the warmth and love that the Universe has for you.
Bring that energy up into your throat chakra. Feel the warmth there for a moment.
The energy continues up into your third eye chakra, in the middle of your brow. Thank the universe for your instinct and clarity of purpose.
Bring the energy up to your crown chakra, where it beams up into the sky to connect with the infinite white light of the Universe.
Remain mindful that your energy remains grounded, and is connecting with universal consciousness to gain energetic information and connect you with the flow of the Universe.
The energy that comes back down into your drown chakra is now blessed and aligned with everyone and everything around you.
Each and every conversation you have will be ordered for your higher purpose.
As you bring this energy back down into your third eye, then into your throat, and finally to rest in your heart, you feel ready to start every conversation from a place of self-love.
Cleansed, confident and energised, you are ready to start conversations with ease.
With your confidence renewed, and your faith in the healing power of Universal white light, it is impossible for your conversations to go wrong.
Every conversation you have will be blessed and energised for your higher purpose and growth.
You will clearly see the lesson in every conversation you have, and be able to see the value in every exchange with every person.
And that’s the energetic way to prepare yourself for how to start a conversation, my Butterfly!
Love + light