When getting to know someone new, first interactions can be daunting. There’s often pressure to make a good first impression and show off the qualities that set you apart.
Besides showcasing your best self, these interactions are also a prime opportunity to learn about the other person and decide if you want to keep getting closer. But you don’t have to dive into those early chat sessions or first times hanging out simply hoping for the best – a few key strategies can help you navigate them with ease.
To make the most of these crucial interactions, arm yourself with these quick and easy tips on communication skills. Social intelligence is not just about properly communicating but also about forming relationships with empathy and assertiveness. We will show you how to put this into practice.
If you’ve ever tried studying for a test or tackling a major work project in a distracting environment, you know how hard it can be. The same goes for first interactions with someone new. Buzzing phone notifications and other distractions can pull you out of the present moment, making it hard to form a meaningful connection with the other person.
If you’re interacting face to face, put your phone away and maintain regular eye contact with the person you’re with. If you notice your mind wandering, rein it in by turning your attention to something physical, like the food you’re sharing or the color the other person is wearing.
When interacting online, similar rules apply. If you’re in an audio room or live chat, treat it like a party or date. Find a private space and avoid multitasking, though do feel free to grab a drink and turn on some mood-setting music.
Give Sincere Compliments
During first chats and early dates, you may be so worried about what the other person thinks of you that you forget that they might be worried about what you think of them. Giving a genuine compliment can help put them at ease, which can make your first interactions much smoother and more relaxed. Plus, sharing some affirming words can be a subtle way to express your interest, without coming on too strong. This is how social intelligence works in practice.
Challenge yourself to find one thing to compliment about the other person within the first 10 minutes of your interaction. Keep in mind that the best compliments are sincere and meaningful, not forced or superficial. Rather than complimenting how someone looks, for example, highlight a character trait or behavior. If they talk about starting a business, tell them that you admire their ambition. Or if they offer you their jacket, express appreciation for their kindness.
Take It Slow
Nervousness can turn even the quietest person into a chatterbox. Though it’s important to express yourself when getting to know someone new, rambling on and on could lead to accidentally saying something you don’t mean or that you didn’t intend to share. Even worse, talking without giving the other person a chance to chime in could make you seem self-centered, even if you’re actually just nervous.
If you tend to talk too much – and too quickly – when you’re chatting or meeting for the first time, try slowing down. Before the interaction, slow your breathing by counting your breaths. Inhale for four seconds, hold for seven seconds, and exhale for eight seconds. Repeat this pattern several times to ease your nerves.
Then, once the conversation has started, remind yourself that there’s no rush to respond or answer questions – you can take a moment to collect your thoughts. Even if you’re talking live or in person, allow space for a few “ums” and “ahs” if you need to pause to think of what to say.
When you don’t know much about a subject, the only way to master it is by staying curious and asking questions. This applies to people too. Questions are the key to keeping the conversation flowing while learning more about each other.
If you need an icebreaker, start by asking open-ended questions that can’t be answered with a simple one-word response. For example, ask what the highlight of their week was or one surprising fact about them that most people don’t know.
Keep in mind that some people might not want to disclose personal or private information during first interactions. Play it safe by sticking to light topics in the beginning. Save conversations about past relationships, money, politics, and family drama for later, unless you’re both comfortable divulging.
Keep It Positive
Life has its ups and downs, and almost everyone needs to vent sometimes. There’s no sense in sugarcoating a bad day. However, most people’s brains filter out the positives and respond more strongly to the negatives. If you can relate, you may end up complaining or making snide comments during interactions more often than you realize.
Get into a positive mindset before meeting someone new by trying a gratitude exercise, where you notice (or even journal about) the small, everyday things you appreciate. You can also practice leaning into positivity with the people you’re already close with. Balance out criticisms and complaints with discussions about recent accomplishments, hobbies you enjoy, and events you’re excited about. Then, when you interact with someone new, a positive mindset will likely come more naturally.
You’re Ready to Spark a Real Connection From the Start!
The first few times you chat or meet face to face don’t have to be awkward. With the tips discussed above, you can find plenty of opportunities to create a deep and genuine connection with someone new. Start initiating your first interactions with others looking for friendship and fun in Jaumo’s online events and chats!