So you made it to some form of social media site and you’ve finally made contact with another “human being,” or what you hope is a human and not some elaborate cyborg mechanism. The easiest way to evaluate what is polite to start the conversation is to simply imagine you are face to face with this person. Yes, you’re on the Internet and the person can manipulate or lie about themselves, but if you were there in person they most certainly could manipulate their appearance and “adjust” their life story. So treat each person with an equal amount of personal respect just as if they were there right in front of you. Essentially you socialize just as you normally would, and if you have issues with that here hare some do’s and don’ts of basic social interaction.
The key with meeting any new person is interactivity, this doesn’t mean drilling them with questions like an interview and just receiving answers this is where you have a back and forth discussion that progresses forward. That’s the beauty of conversations you draw from common points, situations, you don’t drill basic questions like Name, Age, Location, Orientation, job. These are very personal facts about a person that would be awkward if it were the first words you spoke to someone. Conversation should flow naturally and you can jump around these topics by commenting differently. For example, “Hello it’s a pleasure to meet you my name is William.” Social norms would mandate the person to respond similarly. Think of it as a “Do-As-I-Do” conversational routine. If you feel comfortable revealing things about yourself then by all means you can share. It will only allow the receiver of such information to become more comfortable sharing about themselves. Understand, you should never assume for the receiver to reciprocate the same personal information.
This makes finding common ground between those conversing so crucial. I use relevant or notable movies, entertainment, and everyday occurrences that we all experience to draw from which can lead into such topics as work positions, schooling, etcetera. The key is to really keep it broad in the beginning. Touching on things like working late, doing home work, discussing a new movie you’d like to see, a band coming into town, and etcetera. These types of questions can help encourage interactions, change the course of a conversation, or realistically gather more information without asking direct questions. A great example would be saying, “I’m so excited to have moved so close to Disneyland, I’m getting my season pass tomorrow after work.” This is a simple statement that hits the person with so much information. Look at it closely, I have indirectly informed the listener that I have recently moved, I now live close to the Anaheim area, I enjoy theme parks, I enjoy Disney, I value vacation, and you could even assume that I normally work on Sundays. This allows for the listener to gather the information themselves. It allows for interaction within the conversation and leads your audience to inquire within a multitude of topics. You can singlehandedly maneuver a conversation on a course and maintain almost complete control while allowing for the other person to feel as though it is a normal everyday conversation. Its an art form that has been diluted with the use of online mediums and needs to be brought forth for real emotional connections to be made, or better yet…felt. In this article you will find greater detail in the power of what people don’t say.
Its all in how you transition from topic to topic that makes the experience so much smoother for both parties. We’ve all seen movies with jump cuts, and although they are sometimes used to invoke a specific emotion, that emotion is always a sense of disorientation or discomfort. Just as in films a poor conversational transition disorients our audience just the same. Its an art that simply requires repetitive practice. You will get better and you will find key phrases, specific words and topics that you can easily utilize to transition through easily.
The key with etiquette and conversational skills is simply real world practice, so get out there and start right now.