Those first conversations can be tricky. If you’re new to London and don’t know anyone in the city then you might feel some pressure to make friends quickly. Although it’s understandable, this mindset probably won’t help you feel relaxed when you do meet new friends in London. Many people find making conversation awkward but here are a few tips to help you feel more prepared.
You can tell a lot about someone just by watching their body language. Their mood, energy levels and level of approachability can all be communicated in a second without words. In a conversation, your body language will be equally important. For instance, making eye contact shows someone that you’re interested and listening to what they have to say. This is not to be confused with staring, which will just make people feel uncomfortable! Looking around the room is fine, it depends on how much eye contact you would naturally make in a conversation.
Non-verbal agreements are also a good way of showing you are paying attention to what your partner is saying. Nods and “mmhms” will demonstrate you’re really listening and could have a positive effect on the conversation.
Reading the Signs
Staying aware of how the other person might be feeling is important if you want the conversation to be a positive experience for both parties involved. For instance, if your conversation partner seems quite shy, showering them with deeply personal questions probably isn’t going to help… Use your judgement and, if the conversation grinds to a halt, don’t panic. After all, with two people in the conversation, each have a 50% share of the responsibility to keep it going.
The trick of finding the right balance in a conversation is about just that: balance. Expressing your own opinions and views is important as it enables the other person to get to know who you really are. It is possible to express your likes and dislikes and be agreeable without being dishonest and conforming to group opinions. Balance is also about sharing the conversation. While you will have your own views to offer, try not to do all the talking and don’t let the other person do all the talking themselves.
Two great questions to ask yourself at the beginning of any conversation are “What do I want to get out of this conversation?” and “What do I want to know about and share with this new friend?” Keeping these questions in mind will allow you to be curious, yet maintain boundaries you are comfortable with. You can show you are interested in them by asking about their job, their hobbies, where they are from originally and why they came to London. At the same time, however, getting too personal too soon won’t work in your favour. If anything, it will attract the wrong kinds of people and repel those who could become good friends over time. Balance is about intuition, good judgement and genuine curiosity – with these tools it will be difficult for the conversation to go badly and, if it does, the chances are that it won’t be your fault.