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Talking to People In Real Life: Pre-conversation pep talk


Just as sure as you’ll put on real pants again you’ll also talk to people in real life and face-to-face.

Even if you don’t plan to go back into an office surely you’re planning to socialize in person because there are only so many virtual happy hours any of us can take.

When those in-person interactions happen there won’t be an option to turn a camera on or off. You won’t have the benefit of a chat function where you can type a quick “Hello!” to show you’re contributing to the conversation. You’re going to need to show up and start a conversation all on your own. 

Which is why it’s a good idea to brush up on the conversation skills you need for those in-person interactions because we’ve been communicating in an entirely different way for more than a year. The thought of striking up a conversation out of the blue and possibly with someone you don’t know can be overwhelming right now. Even extroverts can get stressed out, trust me I know from personal experience. 

I also know the intent and attitude you bring to the conversation can make it less awkward. Here are three things you can do to boost your confidence and make it easier. Think of this as a pre-conversation pep talk. You can do this!

  1. Smile! Make yourself approachable and you’ll make it easier for people to talk to you. No one wants to talk to a grumpy, disinterested person. Get out of your own way. Don’t make it harder than it already is.
  2. Apply “Best Intent”. Get out of your own head. Stop thinking it’s going to be weird, uncomfortable or boring. Use the best intent approach which is assuming the best before preparing and reacting to the worst-case scenario. People want to talk to you. They might not want to talk to you for three hours, but most people don’t mind and even enjoy a short conversation. Get out of your own head.
  3. Know that it will be over before you know it. I don’t know what you think a conversation is, but it can have a complete conversation in 30-seconds. And as every trainer on every workout video ever has said, “You can do anything for 30 seconds.” There’s no prerequisite for how long a conversation needs to last in order for it to count. Sometimes shorter is better especially if you’re getting the feel for in-person conversations again. 

Here’s a little insider perspective from TV – 30-seconds equals about six sentences. As a sports broadcaster I frequently write stories between 20-30 seconds. I know how productive a few seconds can be during live broadcasts and everyday conversations.

Talking to people in real life is something most of us haven’t done much, if at all, during the last year. Keep your anxiety in check by finding small ways to practice right now and it will be easier than putting on real pants.



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