To break the ice and communicate with a person you do not know can be tough. But it is possible. It just takes practice and confidence. If you are not confident speaking to a stranger, you can practice by avoiding asking the same question to someone that you know well. Here are some tips on how to break the ice and communicate with someone you do not know:
Be honest. This is probably the most important tip. You do not want to sound rehearsed and you do not want to sound like you have no respect for the person you are talking to. You want to have fun and be yourself, but also to get everyone involved so that the communication will be a lot more authentic.
Just say what you want without pausing to think about how you are going to say it. It may seem like you are being really obvious, but this is a great way to get everyone’s attention. Let everyone know that you would like to get everyone involved and that you are open to suggestions.
Start by giving your date/date/mate some instructions on an activity. If you are both skilled at that, it will make the entire evening much more fun. Otherwise, it will take away from the ice and the true purpose of a good time. Make sure you have the fun questions ready, however.
You can use your natural wit and ask simple, yet fun questions when you know that your date/mate has a difficult skill, such as, “What do you like to do for fun?” If they respond with something like, “That’s a great question” or “I never really have any hobbies,” you can keep going until they give you the full detail on their favorite pastime. You can then take that information and use it as directions for conversation.
Be specific about instructions. Sometimes it is best to specify which aspects of your instructions they should try and achieve. “Please take out the garbage in the garbage can.” Rather than saying, “Please fill the trash in the trash can,” specify which actions you want them to do.
One of the best things that you can do if you want to ease tensions is to be direct. When talking to many people, it is easy to let your tone become insincere or come across as rehearsed. This is especially true when you are talking to someone you know very well. Directing your tone is a big turnoff for many people. In order to break the ice, you must remember that it is important that you sound clear and concise so that others know that you are trying to solve their problem.
Also, you may consider using a short, direct question that has a specific time limit to ask the question. “If you could give me one tip that would help me right now…would it be related to me?” That will get a response from the participant immediately. Because you asked the question with a time limit, the other participants are much more likely to respond. It will also show that you are interested in solving the problem. Following these basic principles when talking to someone will help you have success!
Another great tip that will help you is to avoid using any random fact about yourself that you do not know. One of the worst things you can do is say something like, “I used to date strippers all the time in college,” or “I was in the Army for 10 years.” While it may be flattering to say these things, they will just make the other participants feel defensive and insecure. Instead, choose a topic of conversation that is more positive and personal. This way, they will feel comfortable answering your questions and giving you their honest opinion.
Here is a great shake that I recommend to use after you have introduced yourself, your objective, and a positive topic of discussion. You can start by shaking the other person’s hand and making eye contact. While the shaking is occurring, tell them that you are very interested in knowing what their goals are in life and how they go about reaching them. Next, request that they give you some information that will help you better understand their goals. Finally, tell them that you would like to shake their hand and share something interesting about yourself with them.
At this point, you will have succeeded in creating a connection with the other person. You will also have shown them that you are interested in what they have to say, and you will be able to answer questions about their goals and give everyone a bit of a sense of what to expect. After the introduction, the shortest amount of time will be spent on the explanation of your topic of interest, and you can then ask questions or give directions. While the objective statement is extremely important, you do not have to spend too much time on this part of the exercise-it is not vital to the success of your communication process.