It’s a funny realization to notice you love talking to people but can’t seem to start a conversation.
I’ve always been considered as someone who cannot stop talking. My explanations in conversations are so long I rarely get the opportunity to get to the point.
Despite this, I still have a large group of friends throughout the world and can often find someone to have a drink with me if I want company.
How I made those friends? To be honest, I am unsure about this.
I believe it stems from luckily having made very out-going friends and simply joining in many groups, thus extending my own circle.
Little by little, those connections grew and people in those groups became friends. I definitely have some “context friends” whom I love but I probably would lose sight of if we didn’t meet in our usual setting of partying.
Either way though, I don’t have a problem to talk to people I know.
When it comes to meeting new people however, that’s a whole other story.
I cannot find words or topics to mention, my eyes stray away from the other party, and I start panicking.
That’s a particular problem when you realize that I speak many languages and love using them.
My own circle has very few people in love with learning languages or speaking languages I want to practice. For this reason, I know for a fact that I should meet new people.
I took part in the Polyglot Conference last weekend and it was an incredible experience which would inspire pretty much anybody to learn more languages. But it also reminded me of how much I have trouble starting conversations.
A while back, I had exchanged with a now-becoming-famous-in-the-language-community woman called Lindie Botes and wanted to actually talk with her during that weekend but never found the guts to actually do so.
But I think I may have finally found a way to overcome this fear.
One of the speakers during the conference explained how he practiced his languages every morning by writing down simulated conversations.
He would write both sides of a conversation and look for words, and expressions to add to each conversation.
Since I don’t have a problem with exchanging with people I know, this means I mainly lack the skills to handle “small talk”.
Practicing simple conversations first and then extending seems like a great way to both improve my languages and get myself ready for different situations.
For instance, I could practice the below topics:
- Hobbies: giving different hobbies to the 2nd fictional character and asking details about it. Mainly focusing on hobbies I don’t have.
- Work: giving different work positions to the 2nd fictional character and digging deeper into those.
- Personalities: Creating fictional characters with very varied personalities. From the out-going to the autistic, to the angry one, to the one agreeing with everything and so on.
By varying the fictional conversations, we can feel more ready for the “real” world and thus lower our fear to meet new people.
Then, obviously, experience will become key. Getting out of my comfort zone and talking to new people little by little should become easier.
And, who knows, maybe next time I see someone I want to talk to I won’t shoot myself in the foot!