Dear eNotAlone: I have been checking out this woman for weeks and I am determined to find the courage to go and talk to her. I feel anxious when I am around her because I'm not sure what I'm supposed to say or do. She seems very charming, smart and nice so I want to start a conversation with her in the best way possible. I need advice on how to start a conversation with her and also advice on developing a conversation.
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Starting a conversation with someone you're interested in can be daunting, especially when you don't know where to begin. Before you approach her, take a few deep breaths to relax and clear your mind. Doing this will help put you in the right frame of mind and give you the confidence you need.
Once you're ready, you need to make your presence known. A simple "hello" is enough to start the ball rolling. However, don't put yourself in a position that requires you to take risks. Instead, make yourself available while allowing her to come to you. If there is something interesting happening around you, use it as a springboard for conversation. For example, if you spot a dog playing in the park, you can use that as an opportunity to break the ice with a comment such as "That looks like fun!"
Once you've made contact, the next step is to establish a dialogue by asking open-ended questions. Open-ended questions require more than a single word or short phrase as a response. It can be helpful to have some pre-prepared questions at the ready so you don't get tongue-tied or stuck for words. It's also important to be an engaged listener. This means actively responding your conversation with comments, nods, or smiles as appropriate. Demonstrating that you are truly interested in what she has to say is the key to keeping the conversation going.
As well as maintaining eye contact, it is also essential to be mindful of your body language. When you approach someone, how you stand and how you carry yourself can impact how the person interprets your message. Avoid crossing your arms, and instead, keep them relaxed at your side. While talking, try mirroring her body language if it is appropriate. This makes a person feel as though they are connecting and being understood.
Although it can seem daunting to start a conversation with someone new, it's usually not as difficult as we think. As the conversation starts to flow, the fear of rejection or saying the wrong thing will begin to drift away. You may even find that the topic of conversation shifts naturally to something you have in common with your companion.
The most important thing is to be yourself and relax. Having the courage to approach someone, and engaging them in conversation, is an admirable trait. Don't beat yourself up if things don't go exactly according to plan, as conversations rarely do. Go easy on yourself, stay positive, and remember - practice makes perfect.