Perfect Your Conversation Skills

Lesson 5/15 - Breaking The Ice


Perfect Your Conversation Skills


Lesson Info

Breaking The Ice

What is Breaking the Ice? Let's just define this real quick, so we all get on the same page. Starting a conversation out of the blue with a stranger. Lori, is that basically your conception? Is there something else you wanted to hear about it? No, that's pretty much how I understand it. Okay, okay. So, let's go with that. Starting a conversation out of the blue with a stranger. Maybe nothing in common, but you want to get interaction and a conversation with them. How do you do that? (big sigh) So easy, right? You just walk over, say (mumbling) But it feels virtually impossible sometimes. You know, maybe they're in a group. Maybe they're looking at their phone or their watch. And you're like, "oh, they look busy." Maybe you think, "oh, I don't know what to say." And then maybe you think, "I got in, now I don't know what to say after I break the ice." That's all true, but above all else, you're on a platter for personal, like a very personal feeling, rejection and judgment. When you'...

re saying, "hello, this is me" and someone just doesn't take it, you think, "oh, you're rejecting all of me, all this." Logically, they don't know you, but we don't think logically like that, do we? We think emotionally. We think in terms of pain. So, when we're trying to break the ice, it really just feels like you're putting yourself up for a personal rejection and judgment. So, I wanna talk about a situation where this feeling of rejection and judgment, it can become secondary. You don't even care about it because something else matters. And this is gonna be one of the keys to breaking the ice as we'll find out. I want you to picture a broken down car in the middle of nowhere. It's your car. You are stranded in the middle of nowhere. Now, let me put it this way: if you're in a parking lot, are you gonna break the ice with someone? No. For a number of reasons, no. Picture a broken down car in the middle of nowhere. Are you gonna have a problem starting a conversation, getting someone for help, flagging someone down? Is this rejection, is this feeling of judgment, is feeling weird or awkward gonna matter? No. Because you will have a situation where the rejection becomes secondary. And to put it in words: you had a social purpose. So, this is kinda gonna be the key phrase for this lesson. You're gonna have a social purpose where rejection didn't matter. All you had to do, all that mattered to you: You had to do something, you had to achieve that goal and get out. You can put it in other words is you have plausible deniability to break the ice. What plausible deniability gives us is, "Well, I'm not gonna be judged because I have to do this." So, what you're really doing is you're constructing an excuse for yourself. Gets us out of our heads. Gets us into the other person's head. Gets us into the conversation. Because when people have issues of breaking the ice, it's really about themselves. The situations always present themselves the same. It's either one person, two people or it's a group. We know how to do that, but we just can't get there. So, this social purpose is very helpful for that. As you're kinda talking about breaking the ice, we had somebody in the chat room comment about breaking the ice when people are on their smartphones. It's sort of like a whole nother layer. It used to be awkward enough just to approach someone. Now you have to approach them, and you have to convince them that what you have to say is more important than what they're looking at. Any advice for people who are trying to overcome people looking at their phones? Um, I'll just leave it at this is when most of us are on our phones, 99% of the time, it's because we're bored and we want someone to talk to. See, the thing is about ice breaking is that everyone else feels the same way. Like, you're at a networking event, right? It's to network, people shouldn't be surprised if you try to network with them, to put it simply, right? So, everyone does feel the same way, but we just can't think of ourselves or we can't put ourselves in other people's shoes because of this fear. And the social purpose kinda takes care of that. Fulfilling that social purpose in these conversations, when you have a broken down car, that's your objective versus a conversation for conversation's sake. When you make that your purpose, that's like a very tough thing to overcome because then you think, "Oh, I don't feel like it, I don't wanna do it, I don't interrupt them." When you make your goal conversation for conversation's sake, you give yourself too many excuses, too many ways to not do it. The social purpose, on the other hand, it's enough to veto that fear of judgment by the most part. So, I do want to present to you four types of ice breakers, three of which kinda utilize this social purpose. The fourth one you already know, but you know if we were all comfortable with this then this wouldn't be a lesson. But the fourth one is already just about being direct. Right? It's just about, "hi, hello, my name is Patrick." So we're not really gonna cover that. But the other three that utilize a social purpose, we're gonna get into right now. Number one, where you ask for a subjective opinion. Number two, where you ask for objective information. Number three, where you comment on a shared reality. I'll go through all these in turn. Let's set the scenario, alright? Industry conference. What I really shoulda done was I shoulda set this at CreativeLive or something. That woulda been very timely and very relevant. So, let's go through these. For the social purpose, the first part, all you're doing is you're asking for someone's opinion. You're wondering, "what did you think about that speech?" Industry conference: there's speakers, there's breakout sessions, after the speech ends... "What did you think about that speech?" Subjective opinion, very harmless, complete social purpose and plausible deniability. No one can ever judge you on that because they just listened to it too. Number two, asking for objective information. And this goes back to that car example. You have a broken down car, you need to ask for help, you need to ask for where the nearest gas station is. That's important. No one can judge that. "Do you know where lunch will be?" Who can judge that? It's just something you're curious about, you have a social purpose about and you get it done and over with. Now number three requires a little bit more observation than the others: it's a shared reality. A shared reality, for example here is: "This is a pretty nicely color background, right?" Or, "Wow, this CreativeLive place has a pretty good breakfast spread for you." Another shared reality here: "Man, not a morning person, but we're here." So shared reality in this industry conference: "Can you believe this wallpaper?" You're commenting on a shared reality. Something that you guys are both observing at the time. Probably the elephant in the room. We'll get into this a little bit more. Sherlock Holmes-ian observation is really the common thread and key here. It's the key! Because we know these things, we just don't often think about asking them, and this is kinda gonna play into the exercise we have coming up. It's just a mode of thought that we are not accustomed to doing. We aren't accustomed to thinking outside the box. We aren't accustomed to commenting on our observations. We aren't accustomed even to observing things about our environment. Exercise time. Maybe someone from the back. Anyone? Oh yeah, cool. Hey. Thanks a lot. Your name? Sure. Tim. Cool, Tim. Alright. So, it's called I Spy, and what we're doing here, we are pretty much just testing your observation. Not testing. Testing's negative. We're, we are looking at your observation skills in light of what we could potentially ice break with, right? Okay. So, I want you to pretend you're doing this with me, and maybe we'll bring up someone else later, but what opinions could you ask from me about where we are here? Very simple way to break the ice, right? Yeah. Well, I'm not good at this, cool. No, it's okay. Opinions like, "how is this?" "What do you think about this?" Oh, there we go. What do you think about the food this morning? Solid. Alright. Real solid. So many bananas. I didn't even see one. Oh, I'll show you later. Missed out. There you go. Okay, what else can we ask an opinion about? Were you expecting this many people in the audience? No, it's great though. I love it. Nice. Yeah. Okay, so we can move on to the information. So, this is where you're asking for just objective information about me, about the event, about the space, about anything. There we go. Did you expect it to be this big in San Francisco here or the space for CreativeLive? There you go. Or, that might be number one, but the way to do that for number two would be: "How big is this place?" There you go. Yeah, so. Okay, that's good. What else can you ask for information about? "How long is this session gonna run?" (laughter) When's lunch? When's lunch? "When's lunch? I'm hungry. Where are the bananas at?" Okay, maybe a third one: what shared realities? How many cameras do they have in here? Sure, that'd be number two, that works. Or just the shared reality would be commenting on it. So the shared reality for that would be: "Can you believe how many cam... It's like a paparazzi." Yeah. Yeah. Bright lights? Exactly. Really masculine back lighting. There you go. Can you breathe with all the lights? No, yeah, there you go. So, there you go. Cool. So it's kinda that easy, but it really just depends on observation skills and that's not really something we think about. Right. Taking note of what I can comment on, what's interesting to me about this, what do I wonder about with this, what do I have questions on. Alright, yeah. Okay, cool. Thanks a lot. Thank you. Thanks. Thanks a lot. So, we've got some time, Patrick, to do another one. If we have any other volunteers. It's easier now, come on, you just saw it done once. Anybody else wanna give it a try? Yeah, come on up. Okay, so we got started with the examples there. So, what opinions could you ask about? Yeah, what do you think about the weather today? The what? Weather. Well, you know I haven't been outside since 7:00, so? Alright. It's good? It's really nice, yeah. Okay, so what else? I like this time of the year. You like cold? No, it's not cold. Okay. I mean July is colder here. That's true. She's right. Okay, so yeah, that was a great one. So what else? What other opinion? What do you wanna know what I think about? So what do you think about the ... I don't know. Anything here. The space, the people, the event Yeah. The speaking. So yeah, do you do this often? How often do you? No, not much. I coach a lot personally. I don't speak too often, couple times a year. Okay, that works. Let's move onto the information. So, that would be what do you want to know, essentially, about this? What do you wanna know about me? This is a very direct, "Hey, where is this?" What is this?" Okay. Probably like your coaching practice, so what do you do? What do you coaching on? That works. Let's get another. Let's think of another one. This is tough. It is tough. Yeah. (laughter) When people do kind of draw a blank here, is there anything that you do to try to help them? It's hard, especially right now because we're under the lights, but say you are just at a networking event or something and these ideas are not coming to you. Do you have anything that helps sort of jog your memory or loosen you up a little bit? Just comment on. What I do, I'll tell you. What I do, and we can get into this one as number three, not number two is what do you? I take something. I take an observation in the room and I comment on it. So for me, it's always gonna be this lighting 'cause I think it's so fascinating and I love the color. It looks like a blue lighting. Is it blue? Is it purple? I'm a little colorblind, so... Yeah, it's blue and purple, I guess. Both. Blurple. Okay, okay. I'm colorblind, so I'll defer to you. So yeah, that would be the easy way to do it is I always just find something in the room or about the event, something noteworthy and/or interesting to comment on, and that would be the shared reality. Last question, can you think of another thing to comment on maybe in this room? Well, yeah. Great studio. Yeah. Nice looking studio, right? Right. Yeah, so it can just be that easy, right? Right. So, I Spy. That was it. It's basically: what are my observation skills saying to me? Are they saying anything? Have I even activated them? Have I thought about them? What opinions? What information can I seek out? What shared realities? I do want to make a point on the information. Doesn't really have to be something that you need. Or it doesn't need to be something that you don't know. But the point here is to break the ice. Break the ice. Put the social purpose with plausible deniability. Asking for information is one of the best ways to do it. You don't actually need the information. What happens after you break the ice? This is pretty much the next question I always get. And it's always a relatively simple answer. It's easy to continue as normal. "By the way, hi, my name is Patrick. Oh, the lunch is at 12:30? Oh, cool." "By the way, my name..." It's easy to continue as normal because you've already taken yourself off that rejection plate. You've already gained acceptance. It's, in essence, a warm person already to you. And that's the thing we're gonna discover is when you break the ice, when you do this more, when you practice this more, you're not gonna get a bad reaction. People are nice. They'll be nice to you. They'll be accepting to you. Because that's what they're looking for as well. Everyone's thinking the same thing, and I can promise you that 99.99% of the time, they'll be thinking, "oh my gosh, thank you for doing this, so I don't have to do it. Thank you for taking the role, so I don't have to take it. Thank you for taking the reigns. Thank you for breaking the ice. I'm so happy I don't have to eat lunch alone." So here we get into leaving a conversation, which I think there was a question about that, right? Right. So, it's interesting because leaving the conversation... why do we feel icky about that? It's for the same reason as breaking the ice, right, but for the other person? Breaking the ice, we don't want to feel bad. Leaving a conversation, we don't want the other person to feel bad. So, the good way... Well, the efficient way to leave a conversation also functions on social purpose, plausible deniability, guards against rejection and judgment. You don't want the other person to feel bad. That's why we get stuck in conversations that we can't get out of. That's why we allow people to corner us in the office, at events. We don't wanna be mean, basically. We don't wanna make the other person feel bad or rejected, so we stay. So, how can we do this? How can we use social purpose and plausible deniability here? The conversation escape formula. It might feel like it's being a tiny bit dishonest. Well, yeah, I can't argue that, (audience laughter) But that's not the point, right? The point is to save your time or to just feel better about this interaction, and not leave it feeling bad or making the other person feel bad, which would make you feel bad. What does the conversation escape formula consist of? A tiny excuse. Regret and reluctance, like "oh, I'm so sorry." A dash or urgency. This is what makes it now rather than later. And a future promise. So when you put all these four together, it's actually a very simple thing. You don't really even need to think it out that much. But when you put all these four together, you get something like this: "Oh my gosh, sorry, it's been so good to see you, but I see a co-worker and I need to ask them about an urgent project... we have to pick this up later though!" Like "I'll see you around at the event?" "I'll talk to you later?" "I'll catch up later?" "Lunch next week?" Are we self-conscious yet? Has this been used on you? But that is the conversation escape formula, and it works because we have some sort of social purpose, we feel good about it, and we know that they don't feel bad about it, so that kind of allows us to get away scot-free. And that's that. When we kicked things off, you mentioned how important it was to talk about what you're learning here, like what the big takeaways are from the class, and you had mentioned the term "a conversation superhero." You're kinda becoming that superhero. I just wanna hear you reiterate what exactly will that get people? You know, once they've taken this class, once they become that conversational superhero, how's it gonna help them? If you're a conversation superhero that pretty much means you just get what you wanna get in life. You are not chained by your avoidance and fear. You can talk to people to further whatever goals you wanna further. That's gonna help you romantically. It's gonna help you in your career. Climb the corporate ladder, whatever ladder you're climbing. And it's gonna help you interpersonally and with your friends. You're gonna improve your relationships with your old friends. You're gonna make new friendships very easily because you're gonna be able to get deep and bond with people. And that's a pretty good list, right?

Class Description

Whether you want to charm and befriend strangers, be a better networker in professional situations, or become charismatic and bold instead of nervous and lost in social situations, Perfect Your Conversation Skills, with Patrick King will get you there.

This class will teach you repeatable tips and tools to allow you to command any social situation. Bestselling author and conversation coach Patrick King will give you the blueprint for social success even if you’re the furthest thing from a natural conversationalist.

Just a few of the things you’ll learn:

  • How to break the ice with complete strangers in any situation 
  • His proven formula for directing the flow of a conversation 
  • How to avoid awkward silences, long pauses, and other conversational dead ends 
  • Tips for building your self-confidence before important social events 
  • The trick to “owning the room” without being fake or annoying 
Never feel boring or uninteresting in networking opportunities or social situations - instead, look forward to them with excitement!


a Creativelive Student

I would never have thought you could teach conversational skills. But Patrick's information is brilliant and does just that. Even just a few of his techniques have changed my ability to have a successful and fun conversation with anyone. A lot of the suggestions are actually easy to put into practice, even if you're shy. I'm so grateful for this course.

April S.

I'm listening in to a rebroadcast of this course. I am fairly confident in certain kinds of social situations with having conversations but I had to be very intentional about learning to do that over the years. Patrick's course has affirmed some things I was doing naturally so I know I'm on the right track, and he also gave lots of great tips about reading people to determine whether they are interested in the conversation, simple conversations starters and enders, and keeping a conversation moving. I gleaned some useful techniques in a short time and will definitely put them into practice. For anyone who wants to hone their ability to converse with others, as well as anyone who really struggles in this area, I think you'll find some very helpful explanations and techniques.