We’ve all walked into a room looking to meet new people and make friends. But once you say hello and offer a quick introduction, your mind goes blank. Completely black.
You start sweating and your stomach starts to squeeze. You run to the nearest corner and have no idea what happened.
You don’t know what to say! You don’t know what to do! You don’t know where to go!
The causes/problem: The crude and mean animal called fear and anxiety ate you for dinner and spit you out.
There is no other feeling that makes you feel small, embarrassed, and nervous than anxiety does.
If you’re feeling nervous or don’t know what to say during a conversation then you’re not alone and we certainly want to help you.
Sometimes the best way to understand why this happens is to become aware. Let’s make a list.
If you’re having some trouble talking with people it might be because you:
- Feel judged
- Feeling afraid
- Have too many thoughts rushing in your head
- Feel overwhelmed
- Lose track of the conversation
If you’re feeling anything in the above list you might be reacting to the fight-flight-freeze reaction. It’s a rapid-fire, automatic, body response we go through when we are in “danger”.
The freeze response causes your mind goes blank. Your brain is panicking under pressure. Your brain and body are overruling “slower, more reasoned thought” when it perceives you’re in a dangerous situation so that you can react quickly and get out of harm’s way.
Most of the time you’re not in a dangerous situation when this happens. A lot of times it’s when your boss asked you a question or when someone you’re romantically interested finally talks to you. Then, your mind goes blank. That’s the freeze response.
If you’ve gone through this, you can overcome it. There are solutions.
Believe that you have the ability to think clearly when having conversations without your mind going blank.
So, how to talk to people even if you don’t know what to say and your mind goes blank?
Here are the solutions.
First, exercise and meditation can be very helpful to reduce anxiety or nervousness.
Second, practicing positive thinking and changing your mindset can help take your social skills to the next level. This is something we talk a lot about in our course, Next Level Conversation.
Third, to reduce the chance of your mind from going blank you can practice and prepare conversation starters.
A thoughtful conversation starter can change the direction of a discussion within seconds, taking your conversation game to a new level. It can be the difference between going on a second date with a romantic partner or and being liked at work.
That’s why it’s important to have a variety of conversation starters ready to go! It will help you form connections with co-workers, customers, partners, or anyone you meet at a social event more easily than you are now.
The ability to start a conversation translates to more opportunities and more meaningful relationships in your life. It’s a game-changer.
So, let’s talk about what makes a good conversation starter.
Here are 4 tactics to improve the start of conversations and reduce the chances of your mind from going blank.
- Use open-ended questions: This is the most impactful conversation tactic and what you can use in every conversation. A broad question typically generates far more engaging answers than a yes or no question.
- Be random: Break out of the regular weather and job-related questions to improve your conversation skills. Nothing is wrong starting with basic starters but surprise the person you’re talking to out of their mundane conversation routine. Don’t be afraid to ask random questions to get a conversation going or to spice it up!
- Discover content: Ask someone if they recommend any books, blogs, podcasts, or videos. You might find a mutual interest that you can talk about for hours.
- Use fun facts: Fun facts are ideal for happy hours. Here’s a fun fact: Did you know the famous line in Titanic from Leonardo DiCaprio, “I’m king of the world!” was improvised.
Protip: Use whatever is around you. And, try to think quick on your feet. Have things to talk about, such as what you’ve read, news topics, what the person is wearing sports, or things you’re interested in.
In our course, Next Level Conversation, we talk about the best ways to have easy, comfortable conversations without feeling nervous.
Below are a few examples you can use to start conversations more easily. Feel free to tailor the examples to what you think will best fit your conversation:
“Hey, I’m John, it’s great to meet you. What a great happy hour! Who do you know here?
“Hey, Jess, great to see you here! What do you think of this event so far?”
“I love your shoes. Do you mind sharing where you got them?”
“Your lunch looks and smells delicious. How did you make it?”
“Beautiful weather, isn’t it? What are your plans for this beautiful day?”
The above examples will help you think of ideas on how to begin or alter the start of your conversations. Remember to make it a habit to practice daily. If you say almost anything with confidence, you’ll be able to create and start a conversation easier than you think.
Summary of this post:
- Adopt a more positive mindset.
- Your fear and anxiety might be caused by the flight-fight-freeze response.
- Use exercise and meditation to lower your anxiety.
- Prepare conversation starters before social events and know your audience.
- Use open-ended questions, discover content to find things in common, be random and talk about fun facts.
- Have as much fun as you can. You got this!