You can put all that behind you with you a few easy steps. Starting a conversation is not difficult if you know how to do it...
1. Consider what you want from the conversation
Often this will just be small talk on a social level, but it may also be something like a date, a new job or to sort out your finances. The latter examples are a little more tricky than the first, admittedly, but you can do it!
2. Plan what you want to say
People often feel a little easier in their minds if they have a bit of a script worked out in advance. The thing to remember with a script, though - is to make it just a few sentences to get you over the initial trauma of opening your mouth and speaking that first time in a new situation. Any more than that and you will sound false.
Right, so you know what you want to get out of the conversation and you have a little script worked out for the first few sentences, Let's see how that works in practice when it comes to the conversation.
Breath slowly and make yourself aware of your breathing. Concentrate on just your breathing for a few seconds and you should feel some of the tension you are feeling begin to ease up.
If you can stop gritting your teeth long enough to smile, people will be likely to smile back. Yes, this sounds like obvious advice but is well worth repeating.
5. Listen well
Listening always helps you in conversations. It will show you when others have finished speaking so you know where to come in and if you listen well you will also pick up clues about what you could say.
6. Introduce Yourself
When you feel comfortable, say 'Hello, my name is ____' if the other people do not know you. That will also give you some breathing space as the other people will probably go on to introduce themselves to you in return - if their Moms have taught them good manners!
Try to remember names and use them in the conversation when talking to people. They will like that and they will warm to you. The more they warm to you, the nicer they will be to you and the better you will feel. Using names is a simple trick but it really works wonders in getting a conversation off on the right foot.
7. Make a Thoughtful Comment
You will probably find it easier at first to talk by making a comment on a more substantial contribution that someone else has already made in the conversation. Make your comment positive or constructive, not negative or condemning. Tell the other person you agree with them or add an example which illustrates the point that they have just made and supports it etc.
You will soon be accepted as part of the conversation and the person you backed up will feel you are an ally and will back you up in return. You have arrived!
8. Offer a Different Opinion
Of course, you can disagree with the person in your comment too - we are all entitled to our opinion! But be aware that disagreeing is likely to focus more attention on you. If you are ready for that - great! If not, hang back a little from expressing an opposing opinion.
9. Be Polite
Whatever comment you make - be polite. That sounds so obvious, but you would be amazed how many people get carried away in the heat of a conversation and snap at anyone who dares to disagree with them.
10. Share New Ideas
Are you feeling braver yet? If you are listening well to the conversation, and you should be, there will be ideas that come into your mind. Just put one of those ideas out there and see what people think of it.
That is it! You have done it! You have learned how to start a conversation.