Breaking The Ice

Do you ever feel that making new friends is one of the most stressful things to do in life? I do.

I find approaching someone new and starting a conversation with the said person very intimidating. I can be very warm and friendly but I have difficulty maintaining the flow of conversation or to keep it interesting. This leads to awkward silences most of the time. Usually I run out of things to say after “What’s your name?” and “What do you do?”. Then I ask boring follow-up questions about their job hoping they will ask me back or have more interesting stuff to talk about from there. I have come across many who are happy to elaborate further and I end up just nodding away even though sometimes I don’t follow too well. Then I tend to lose my focus and stop listening. Just empty nodding and smiling. I know, bad Tien…bad!

That is a major reason why I dread going to networking events or parties alone. It’s not that I am not comfortable alone, I am not comfortable being quiet at an event where you are supposed to mingle around and meet new people. Somehow it makes you seem rude. I am very happy to respond and speak to people who approach me for a chat. I can be very, very friendly too. But I will (unconsciously) make that person work really hard at keeping the ball rolling because I am an introvert. Many a time, they usually move on to chat with others after a few minutes with me. I guess I bore them 😉

I have a handful of friends who are naturals at making new friends. They always have something interesting to say and make you feel comfortable in their presence. They are gifted ice breakers. I always think that people who are natural ice breakers tend to be people who are very confident about their own presence. And they tend to be excellent friends too! I envy their qualities. Maybe I lack confidence.

As difficult as it is for me to do so, I still make an effort to go out there and meet new people to build relationships. I realise I can’t be a big baby and not do something just because I don’t feel like it. It is undeniable that most of the time, it is not what you know but who you know. Exchanging name cards and expanding your list of acquaintances is just something I cannot avoid in the real world.

Are you a gifted ice-breaker? Any tips on how to improve ice-breaking skills?


40 comments on “Breaking The Ice

  1. D... says:

    Oh Tien, sweetie, it sounds like you’re just shy. That’s OK, and it’s cute, but to some people it can read as being standoffish.
    I don’t think of myself as outgoing, but I find it easy to talk to strangers. I just chat along with anyone anytime, as long as I don’t find them offensive, and if I do I just excuse myself. But the funny thing is that I used to get so nervous right before school started, but within a few minutes of having done it I was OK. It was the same when I did theater in High School. I feel this way in interviews sometimes. But if I don’t feel comfortable within minutes I know that it’s not the right place for me.
    You probably just need to feel comfortable and find interesting people. If you aren’t interested then it’s hard to fake it (it’s sort of like men, just gotta find the right chemistry).

    • Tien says:

      Good point about men tee hee! Hmm…probably I am shy, or it’s hard for me to get comfortable. It’s hard to feel interested when I am not comfortable. Thanks for sharing Danielle 🙂

  2. Jellster says:

    Yeah, I face the same problem as well, Tien~!
    Recently I have tried to meet some new friends and they have been working in the industry for a few years. Maybe our frequency is too different? I am not sure. I tried to tell them what my research is about, and blank stares come back. And then they talk about mergers and contracts between this company and that, and now it is my turn to return the blank stare. So what is the safest topic to broach?
    Shopping? Sleeping? Outdoor activities? I would love to know as well.

  3. You are so cute! I’m with D. I think you are a shy little violet! I always find that a compliment followed with a question works.

    Oh, I love those shoes! Where did you get them?

    Your hair is gorgeous! What salon do you go to?

    Everyone likes to be around people that make them feel good. Just be sure the compliment is genuine 🙂

  4. Vixter2010 says:

    It’s never easy! I’m sure you don’t bore anyone, you can’t help being shy! Try and set yourself a goal like talk to 3 new people or something and then you will have achieved something great. If all else fails have a glass of wine first 🙂

    • Tien says:

      Thanks Vix 🙂 You have a point, perhaps I should set a number, like 3 people…. so that I won’t feel intimidated by a “party”. Nice tip!

  5. Margie says:

    When I meet someone, I ask them a ton of questions. Most people, I find, are happiest when they talk about themselves. So I let them. I just keep feeding questions. I learn a lot about them, they know little about me… which is a good thing.

  6. analyfe says:

    I have the exact same problem! I enjoy talking to my close friends, and even new peopl, but I have a hard time carrying on a conversation. Friends have given me advice about what to talk about and how to keep the ball rolling, but as in introvert it’s harder said than done! Well, good luck in your efforts to open up! 🙂

  7. Michi says:

    I am totally a gifted ice breaker. Well, it really also depends on the atmosphere and people around me as well. I find that I don’t really do well at “posh” parties or events, but do very well in almost every other situation. The key is being okay with being silly and of course, being sincere, smiling a lot, and asking questions or making comments that will show the person that you are interested in them (where are you from? Oooooh, I love your dress!) 🙂

  8. Very honest post Tien! I am sure if we meet someday, we will have tons of things to talk about!
    I tend to find out what other people are passionate about. Let them do the talking.
    Also, you don’t have to talk about you and the other person doesn’t have to talk about him or her: just pick a random subject. You can mention you read about something interesting lately and ask what he or she thinks about that. It can be anything and the idea behind it is that it can surprise the one you talk to. Suddenly you might talk about space ships, the latest box office hit, Japanese culture or pinguins on Antarctica.
    It helps if you keep one particular objective in mind: today I want to learn something new! So ask about passions and opinions and learn something new (and then blog about it)! Good luck!

    • Tien says:

      Very good pointers Emiel! I sure hope we will meet someday. I’ll let you do the talking, I am sure you have heaps of travel stories that I would like to hear 😉 Thanks for the tips! 🙂

  9. Bill Tucker says:

    Me:At a gathering where I know no one, I find a corner and eventually someone with a similar inclination will join me there. Then the crowd just seems to grow. Well said Tien.

  10. genn says:

    I’m most definitely not a gifted ice-breaker. While I can be real chatty with close friends, I clam up at social events where most people are strangers to me. But because I tend to be rather observant, I encourage people to talk about themselves for example, compliment on their bag, accessories etc. And most people do like to talk about themselves. 🙂

    • Tien says:

      I noticed that too, Genn! People like to talk about themselves. But like I mentioned, it all just ends up with empty nods and smiles from me, which is not very nice sighs! Thanks for sharing Genn!

  11. Patti says:

    That’s really something that remains difficult throughout life – there’s always some situation where you just don’t quite know how to fit in.

    I have found that I do best if I find folks who seem uneasy and then I do my best to make them more comfortable, so I make myself sort of a hostess. Makes me feel easier and also hopefully helps other people mingle.

    • Tien says:

      Yes, Patti, I believe you got the word right – fit in. I always feel awkward around strangers too. Thanks for the tip 🙂

  12. scrambled7 says:

    I’m sure you’re just shy, that’s all. It’s always like that at first 😀

  13. Jaclyn Rae says:

    I’m introverted too so I can definitely relate! I always just try to compliment people and get them to talk about themselves 🙂

    • Tien says:

      Hi Jaclyn! Yes, sometimes I use that tactic too….it helps a little but I will always go back to square one soon after 😦

  14. misspinkles says:

    I’m not normally a shy person, but when it comes to networking events, I turn into a shy person and don’t mingle.

    It’s hard, I wish I was one of those gifted people that can just talk and get along with everyone. Life would be so much easier… hahaha

    • Tien says:

      Hi Miss Spinkles! Thanks for dropping by to comment! Me too….somehow I have trouble warming up to a stranger especially at networking events! I envy those people too 😉

  15. shinloo says:

    i certainly need some advices as i’ll be going to a team building (organized by the company i’m working with) soon… that’s a time to get to know people from other departments… =.=|||

    p.s. sorry i’ve been dropped out from your blog (actually, other blogs too) for a few weeks… well let’s just say i wasn’t in the mood… but i promise will catch up with all your older posts 😉

    • Tien says:

      I have to say this again….somehow we are SO ALIKE! Haha….! Oh no worries, I haven’t been blogging much too since my internet went bonkers weeks ago. Will be blogging normally soon!

  16. Nicole says:

    I pretty much always start with small talk about the weather. Ha, ha!! 🙂

  17. Khanum says:

    Oh I’m definitely an ice breaker! buh where I am shy, I am really shy and can’t help it. And that’s around opposite gender.

  18. Sarah Batool says:

    ahh I have always faced the same problem,,,I felt you have given words to my feelings lol but I’m in constant effort to change this attitude as you for sure need good public relation skills for moving ahead.
    new to blogging world,,,looking for some good writers and glad to come across your blog 🙂

  19. […] I have friends like any normal teenager. Friends who really clicked with me always ended up getting segregated into other classes each year. You see, every year, everyone gets reshuffled into different classes. Can’t figure out why they did that. Probably to make you mix around? So yes, I always ended up separated from “my group” and I had to readjust every year to new classmates. I remember it being very stressful for me. I was an introvert. Still am! […]

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