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I'm fine one on one but have trouble conversing in a group!


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I've had this problem for a long time and I'd like to see what I'm doing wrong so I can break it.


I'm a shy person but for the most part do not have serious issues conversing with people when I am one on one with them.

The difficulties come when that person joins in a group. I'm often the one to be shut out and left speechless with not a single thing to say.


This is what often happens:

1.) I'm out to lunch with my co-workers. They start engaging in small talk then suddenly the conversation switches to something I'm not very well versed in such as talk about sports that I do not follow (like football teams that are not in my favorite team's conference) or who is going to win the Heisman trophy this year.


2.) I'm out with a friend that works elsewhere. We go out with her friends/co-workers and then the conversation switches to talk about their workplace which I have nothing to add to since I don't work with them.


And it's not like they're intentionally trying to shut me out. In most of these instances, they usually ask me why I'm being so quiet.


Does anyone else have difficulties with this? How do you get the conversation "back in your court" again? In the past I've gotten the conversation back in my favor by saying something off-topic or outrageous. Sometimes it works and I get a few laughs but other times it backfires and they go right back to their previous conversations.


Any advice from very well-versed outgoing people that have no difficulties in the art of conversation?

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I deal with the same thing! That is, I prefer one-on-one to larger groups.


When people start talking about things I dont know, I've found that two things help the most to help you stay "in":


1) Listening. This help you get context clues about a conversation you know nothing about.




2) Asking a question about what someone said. Asking a question about a topic in the conversation gives you more information about the group is saying, without looking or feeling stupid. Plus, it helps you to look more involved, and it makes you look like you care about what they're saying, when really you have no clue what they're talking about.

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How long do they stay on the topic of sports or their work? Is it during the entire time that you are all out? When I want to change the topic (because the conversation is getting too boring) I'll make a comment about something that is related to what they are talking about but it would be more of an observational type of comment. For example, if they were talking about baseball and you don't know anything about the sport, you can say something like, "I love going to the ball park to watch a game. You can just sit back, hang out, have a couple of beers, and enjoy the game." Something like that. Essentially, try to find a way to change the topic so the conversation can go another direction. If that doesn't work maybe the people that you're hanging out with isn't your type of crowd. That happens, sometimes you just don't click with certain people. To me, if all they talk about is sports and work, it doesn't sound like a fun group anyway.

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The advice given so far is really great! I used to feel the same way when I was younger. I could be shy in large groups although I was always good at conversation in small groups or one-on-one.


I think the best thing you can do is make general comments or ask questions even though you don't know the topic (as already said). Or you can ask the group about something they have in common - where they met each other, where they work, etc.


Other than that... I think I have also realized that it is okay to not fit into every group or every situation. Sometimes other people are closed off or don't care about getting to know you. That is fine too - excepting that maybe you just don't click with somebody or a certain group.

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