How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
A simple way of starting a conversation is to introduce yourself. This may seem simple, but it is also an opportunity to intrigue the other person and get the conversation going.
Simple topics include your name, occupation, family and hobbies. More adventurous topics include some of the things you have done which are brave, daft or interesting.
A powerful approach, particularly in sales, is to include a description of what you can do for the other person.
Be very careful about appearing too arrogant or otherwise putting the other person off, although in some settings boasting can be permitted or even desirable, particularly if you want to dominate the conversation.
Heaven forbid, but you can make up something strange about yourself. Say you are an Arctic explorer, a professional mud-wrestler, a reformed burglar or an assassin or something else outrageous. Play it cool. Particularly if you will never meet the person again, this can be harmless fun. If they challenge you, you can decide whether to bluff it out or admit you were having fun (and then talk about fun in general).
Use this as an opportunity to show that you are like the other person in some way. You can also do the opposite, showing that you are different.
Use this introduction to offer a straw, giving the other person something about which they can ask or reply, thus extending the conversation.
Remember not to tell too much about yourself at once. Do this in the exchange of a balanced conversation or such as a teaser to surprise them.
Hello. I'm Jeff Barker, your union representative. I can help you with any employment issues you have.
Phew. I spent all last weekend looking for a new house.
Oh, I'm no good with computers. It's good to meet someone who knows what they are talking about.
Hey, man. I'm the leader of the Kookahs. Yuh hear me? The leader, man. An' don' we have fun.
Talking about yourself can be used to show your status and superiority, thus taking control of the conversation. It can also be used to show that you are friendly and harmless. It helps you position yourself relative to the other person and also within their frames of reference.
By exposing a vulnerability, you are saying that you trust the other person not to attack that vulnerability and so establish a pattern of mutual trust. Doing it too much or too early may make you look like you are seeking sympathy or are conceding in supplication to prevent them harming you.