Making small talk with strangers can be tough, especially if you’re a shy or introverted person. And then you have the added pressure of worrying about how you’re coming across – am I being polite enough? Did I laugh at the right time? Do they like me? It can all get a bit much.
However, new research has suggested that we could be making things a lot easier for ourselves when chatting to new people by adopting one simple skill: asking more questions.
Now, you may think you do this already – some people find it easier to ask questions when meeting strangers so they don’t have to talk about themselves – but according to findings published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, ‘most people spend the majority of their conversations sharing their own views rather than focusing on the other person.’
That’s where many of us have been going wrong. It may sound obvious, but people like it when you give them opportunities to talk about themselves because it demonstrates signs of interest and shows that you’re actively engaging in the conversation.
As reported by The Cut, to conduct the research, Harvard Business School doctoral student Karen Huang and her colleagues assigned people to either ask a lot of questions (at least nine) or only a few questions (at most four) to determine which of the two made the best impression on a stranger.
After chatting to two different subjects via an instant messaging platform, both of the individuals were asked to rate the conversation they had with the study participant. As a result, they found that the people who had been asked the most questions (a minimum of nine) rated their conversations the highest.
Additionally, they discovered that asking a follow-up question made even more of a good impression on the strangers as it displayed that their conversational partner was listening to what they were saying.
So, we hope you’ve taken notes for the next time you want to make a good impression on a stranger.