We live in an age where we can interact with anyone on the planet instantly.  Global communication has never been as easy as it is now.

While this level of communication has had some obvious benefits, it has also impaired how we communicate with each other.

Our thoughts occur in memes, or in commenting on statuses.

We spend so much time communicating online that we forget to have conversations with those in our own house.

So how do you start a conversation with those around you instead of in a pop up window? We will address how to do it with friends & family.

Important factors to consider when starting a conversation are where, when, who & what.

Firstly think about the location. A great place for a conversation is walking. You are doing something, but your focus is on conversing with the person at hand. A bad place for talking is noisy places. Have you ever had that annoying instance where the person asks you to repeat something a dozen times, and in the end it wasn’t something worth that much effort? It labors a conversation and sucks the life out of it. In addition, a lot of communication is non-verbal, so missing the subtleties of the conversation means you aren’t getting the most out of it. Find a place where you can focus on what is being said. It might be at a café, in a park, at the dinner table, or in the lounge room with some soft music playing in the background.

When you have the conversation is important too. Having a conversation when your partner has just got home from work is not always a great time for them. Some people need to unwind for half an hour, and then they are open to having human interaction. Having a conversation with someone while they are in the middle of something is not a good idea either, they will have a hard time focusing. Dinner time is good because people are relaxed & attentive. Personally, I find late-night conversations are best because people have their guard down and “D & Ms” (deep & meaningful conversations) are more likely to emerge.

Your audience characterises your conversation. Does your workmate want to hear about your gall bladder operation? Probably not, they might be grossed out. But your Mum might want every detail. Is your teenager wanting to discuss Michael Bay’s remake of The Notebook? Perhaps some Awkward Silence conversation bait would work better.

Which brings us to what to talk about. If you ask the same questions to those close to you every day, the answers might be less engaging. Invite opinions on news topics. Or get some conversation bait from your Awkward Silence subscription.

When starting a conversation keep it light but also keep it interesting. If you go in too hard too early, you are like a TV series that tries to have high drama before you care about the characters. It goes through to the wicketkeeper. So warm up with something like:

- If you went to jail, what would be the charge?
- Do bugs have emotions?
- If our family was the Village People, who would be each character?

Once people have got in a talking mood, try going a bit deeper. Fun conversation is great, but deeper conversation creates bonds & trust. Vulnerability is one of the best components for enriching conversation. When someone reveals something personal of themselves, it’s like someone taking their clothes off. People are captivated, intrigued. Perhaps your sharing of yourself will encourage others to share too. Try some of these conversation starters:

- What’s something on your bucket list that you will achieve this year?
- Who is the first person you want to see when you get to heaven?
- When was the last time you cried?

Once people get talking, they can get very excited to share their side. In large groups, this can often involve interruptions. So try to hear people out.  Let someone have their say. 

If you disagree with what they are saying, let them be entitled to their opinion. Be respectful.

Awkward Silence make starting a conversation a lot easier with new conversation starters emailed out each week to subscribers.  Subscribe today.

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