I was reminded by David Maister in his Masterclass about Dale Carnegie Courses, which he thinks still has the same value today as thirty years ago. I also agree. My wife, many years ago, took a Dale Carnegie Course and really benefited from it. I went to a classes that spouses were invited. I still remember what they taught us and have used it frequently. They gave us way of making small talk at social occasions.
The story goes like this. Imagine a house with a name on a mailbox, wife and family at front door,with sport gear in the front yard, a plane flies out of the chimney, and parachute comes down with a question make on it. The house reminds you to talk to the person about where they live and the mailbox their name and address. Then the sports gear reminds you to talk about hobbies and recreational activity. Wife and family reminds you to talk about the person’s family. The airplane reminds you to talk about vacation and vacation plans. The the question mark reminds you to ask the person their idea on something. Once you have used these memory joggers enough you can branch out with you own ideas.
I have found this very helpful in gathering where you do not know anybody. I have also used other techniques which I will discuss later for other uncomfortable situations but the approach above is pure gold. Try it you’ll like it. Mikey likes it.
There is a lot to that approach. I also leverage the use of writing notes as a way to focus my mind on listening.
I have a copy of Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” in hard cover that I picked up at a yardsale or a church bazaar. It is an interesting read, expecially the focus on listening and talking about the other person’s interest and not your own.