It’s true that people love talking about themselves. But only when they feel comfortable about it.
We each have our own set of rules when it comes to the level of comfort. How our comfort increases or decreases depends on the people, events, things and time we are surrounded with. Basically these four indicators: Who, Where, What and When are the determining factors.
If you feel obliged to attend a social event, then chances are when you get there, you’ll probably have to make an extra effort to enjoy yourself and others. If it’s something you’ve been looking forward to, then naturally you’ll act in a way that you want to be there and have a good time. People will see that and respond to it accordingly.
So, what does it take to break the ice?
Back in 2016, I was invited to a lavish Christmas party hosted by a corporate travel agent and their sponsors. Judging by the fancy flyer (an on line version) I received, I expected t would be something big, bold and beautiful.
And? It didn’t disappoint. The atmosphere/energy was amazing – full of gourmet food, heady drinks and hundreds of interesting people. It seemed that everyone had one common goal in mind – networking, networking, networking.
It was exciting yet slightly daunting for me when I was steering through the venue not seeing anybody I knew. Well, except three travel managers whom I normally had contacted with on the telephone but never met in person. So, top on my agenda was to find them and put their faces to names. Luckily, everyone was given a name tag to be pinned on the clothes, I didn’t anticipate it’d be a too difficult task.
I went to grab a drink, did a bit people watching, hovered around the venue a few times to see where the main action was. Getting accustomed to the surroundings, the vibes and the party theme were all part of a strategy to put my mind at ease, just like a good warm-up you do before a major activity that type of thing. Once your muscles are more relaxed, you just go out there and do what you’ve trained or practiced to do.
As soon as I started to feel more comfortable, I decided to make small talk with a few random people, just to test out how far a casual conversation would take me to. Funnily enough, and this is true in many cases, way before we start to talk, our body language has already sent out a signal to a room of people. Basically, it tells them one of these two things:
- Hey, you look interesting. I want to connect with you.
- Oh No, please stay away from me, just leave me alone.
My inner radar was quickly on the look out for some like-minded people and it turned out the person whom I spent the most time with also had many things in common with me.
As I discovered, these four magical ice breakers worked wonderfully for me on that night. I’ll explain why below:
- Names: People love talking about their names. The history, the background, the culture and how their parents chose their names in the first place. They might even tell you, why they decided to change their names later.
- Travel: People love talking about their holiday destinations and adventures etc, the past, the present and the future.
- Languages: If you speak a foreign language, for example Spanish. When you come across any native Spanish speaker, a few Spanish words exchanged here and there (combined with your cute accent) will get you noticed and bring you both closer.
- Pets: Who wouldn’t love talking about their dog(s) or cat(s)? No explanations required here.
Lastly, even to your best possible effort, the results may not always be what you expected. That can happen. When all else fails, what do you do? Stay low-eye. But as soon as the music starts to play, just get up and dance! You never know who might come and dance next to you…