Like most teenage girls, I spent majority of my life being extremely shy. I was unsure of who I was, who I wanted to be, and too concerned with what others thought. Years of dealing with all of those fears pretty much ruined my ability to talk to people. My mother would tell you I did not speak for years, but I was always talking to myself. So, how did I overcome my fear of meeting new people, or even speaking in public? I have one class to thank for it, and I am going to give you the secret!
I am currently finishing up my finance degree, and the university I attend added a specific class to the curriculum this past year. This class is called Dale Carnegie. It is a program that is used by a lot of employers in a professional setting to enhance their employees. Five things that this course specifically targets is building self confidence, strengthening people skills, enhancing communication skills, develop strong leadership skills, and finally to reduce stress and improve attitude (which is something I need!). My university is currently the only one that actually requires it within the college of business, so props to MTSU.
Let me say, the only way you can gain self confidence is within yourself. You can read all of the books on the planet to try and achieve that, but it is something that you have to work on. Trust me, I have been working on it for about twenty-seven years, and I still lose it sometimes. Something I have always struggled with is finding something to talk about with people who I may have just met, or someone who I don’t know that much about. In the settings that I have been in, this seems to be a pretty popular issue. Unless there is alcohol, then you find yourself not being able to stop talking. That’s my case at least.
So, how can you find something to talk about? Let me give you this image in your head.
Picture a name plate, like you would find in an office. It is in the yard of a house, whatever house you imagine. Inside the house you see things moving around, dogs/kids/aliens/demogorgons whatever you want to picture. Coming out of the top of the house is a work glove. Covered in dirt and clearly worn. It is holding onto the tail of a plane, but not just any plane. This plane has tennis rackets for wings, and between those wings is a balled up newspaper bouncing back and forth.
Crazy, right? That’s what I thought too. Before you think I am talking some nonsense, let me explain why that crazy picture will help you. If you can just remember that image then it will help you find things to talk about with others! Let’s break it down.
- Name Plate: This is your introduction. The name plate is significant in finding out who that person is. Some question examples would include, What’s your last name, What is the origin of that name, How do you spell your name, etc.
- House: Talk about where the specific person is from. Not necessarily their home address, social security number, and work schedule. Find out if they have moved, if they are going to move, where they are originally from.
- Contents of the House: I love to talk about my friends and family. It is genuinely one of my favorite conversations. Don’t be afraid to ask about siblings or dogs, or as I call our dog, my furry little brother. I can fall in love with people over animals, so this is definitely something I talk about a lot.
- Work Glove: Obviously it is about work! What do they do? Where do they work?
- Plane: This deals with travel. I adore talking about my trips and adventures, and I also really love hearing about other trips. Where do they want to go? Do they have trips coming up? Where have they been?
- Tennis Rackets: Hobbies! What do they love to do? Are they into sports? If they are, let us all hope they are not Alabama fans (GO VOLS!). Do they play any instruments? You know, what do they do for fun.
- Newspaper: This kinda deals with touchy subjects such as religion, politics, views, opinions. While there is no wrong answer, and that is why the world is so cool, sometimes it is better to leave those things alone unless it is an appropriate situation or relationship. You never know who you will offend these days.
Hopefully my weird little image is going to help you find things to talk about in situations. From networking with potential customers/employers to hitting on that really cute guy at the bar who looks like Harry Styles, these are pretty generic questions to ask anyone. Beginning a conversation can be pretty difficult, but guess what, people love to talk about themselves! I know that I do! I think communication is really the key to building self confidence. If you can walk into a room and at least speak to one person, you are normally far more comfortable than when you walked in. If this helps you, let me know!