What I Learned From A Conversation Fail

¬†Success can be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations you’re willing to have.

Tim Ferriss

One of my favourite communication challenges is to have an ‘uncomfortable conversation’.

I truly believe that the more you practice it, the more at ease you’ll be when it gets to presentation time.

‘Uncomfortable conversations’ can include: asking for a pay rise, cold calling, asking someone on a date, etc, but a very simple was is to initiate a conversation with a stranger.

Last week I braved the below-zero chill in New York City to experience the St Patrick’s day parade. I’ve never seen such a big celebration of this event, nor have I seen so many people decked out in bright green. I think 90% of them weren’t even Irish! Oh well, good on them for getting involved!

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I was bored waiting for the parade to start, so I thought I’d strike up a conversation with a tall guy standing next to me (he was also on his own). I turned to him and said (loud enough so he could hear me) “This parade had better be good! I’m freezing my ass off!”

I expected him to turn to me and say something like “Yeah, it’s pretty cold, isn’t it!”

Do you know what he did?

Nothing.

My words were left hanging in the sub-zero air.

I felt a split-second surge of panic that HOLY CRAP EVERYONE’S GOING TO TURN AND LOOK AT THIS LOSER TALKING TO HERSELF AND THEY’RE ALL GOING TO POINT AND LAUGH.

But you know what? No one turned and laughed. And I actually had a little giggle to myself as I realised there was no reason to panic. So what if it’s a bit awkward? Nothing really terrible is going to happen!

Fortunately for me, two lovely Scottish ladies in front of me actually turned around (yes, most likely to see who was talking to herself) so I just pretended I had directed my comment at them all along. And we had a great little chat! (Tall man missed out)

So if you get nervous striking up a conversation with a stranger, remember this: if your conversation dies, you will NOT die with it. And you’ll probably never see them again anyway.

If you can learn to bounce back from these little uncomfortable moments, it will make you all the more resilient and will give you more confidence in high pressure situations, like a presentation or job interview. So disregard your mum’s advice and get out there and start talking to strangers!

 

 

 

What are your thoughts?