You have been eating lunch with a group of friends in the school cafeteria for a few months now -- and suddenly find yourself alone at the table with the one guy you really like. As the minutes tick by, the silence seems deafening, and you struggle to think of something to say. Breaking the silence involves many of the same rules of conversation you would use when talking to strangers. Brush up on your small talk skills, and you will be able to escape from this social situation unscathed -- and hopefully with a deepened connection with a potential new beau.
Comment on the Setting
The easiest and simplest way to break the ice is to make a comment about the situation you are in. Making a simple statement such as, "It's really crowded in here today," lets your guy friend know you are interested in talking. Don't make the mistake of thinking that your statement needs to be brilliant or profound, says Indiana University Southeast psychology professor Bernardo J. Carducci in the article "How to Make Successful Small Talk: The Key to Connecting, Not Just Conversing" on the university website. The goal is to let the other person know you are willing to talk, not win him over with your stunning conversational skills, concurs social and personality psychologist Jeremy Nicholson in the "Psychology Today" article "Break the Ice: How to Talk to Girls and Guys." Other ideas of comments to make might include, "This lasagna is really tasty," or "Oh look, it has started to snow."
Ask a Favor
If you wish to go beyond making a comment about the setting, Nicholson suggests asking for a favor. For example, you might ask your guy friend if he could pass you the salt, hand you a napkin or even go get you a straw. Not only do you break the ice when you ask for a favor, but you may also endear yourself to the guy you like. Nicholson notes that asking a favor of someone elicits the "Ben Franklin Effect," such that the other person views you in a more positive light. If the guy you like passes the salt or the napkin or does go get you a straw, he has invested something in the friendship and will feel more positive about the interaction with you.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
Another way to break the ice is to ask an open-ended question. These types of questions generally begin with the words "what" or "how," and elicit more than a yes or no answer, to help the conversation get started, says clinical psychologist Susan Heitler in the "Psychology Today" article "How to Meet People at Parties: Seven Icebreakers." Examples of questions might include, "How do you like being quarterback?" "What did you think of the last history assignment?" or "What do you do for fun on the weekends?" How do you prepare to ask questions of the guy you like? Do a bit of detective work ahead of time, says psychology professor Susan Krauss Whitbourne in the "Psychology Today" article "10 Tips to Talk About Anything with Anyone." Follow him on social media, and find out what you can from his friends.
Talk About Current Events
Go beyond asking favors and questions, by keeping on top of current events. Watch the news, follow celebrity gossip, or keep up with the top movie, song or video. Throw out different potential topics for discussion, recommends Carducci, and be prepared for it to take a few tries before you stumble upon a subject both of you like to discuss. For example, you might comment, "I really liked the new Tom Cruise movie," or "What did you think about (insert latest political scandal)?" If the guy you like responds, keep the conversation going by asking questions or making statements to support what he says. As Whitbourne notes, don't be oblivious to the world around you -- there are endless topics to discuss when you are keeping on top of local, national and global happenings.
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