• Making Friends

Reader Wisdom: On how to join a conversation

Published: July 15, 2015 | Last Updated: May 14, 2020 By | 10 Replies Continue Reading

In response to a question on one of the Friendship Forums, reader Earthly Star posted advice on how to join a conversation. It has been edited very lightly to make it more readable.

When it comes to approaching people who are too busy talking to other people, and don’t seem to be ending any time soon, here are some tips on how to join a conversation that I’ve learned from confidence/assertiveness classes:

The charming way

I approach the people and say, “Excuse me, I am so sorry for disturbing you guys but I just like to tell you that I really like your dress. Where did you get it from?”

When they reply, I physically move in closer and say “That’s so cool, you have good taste…”

Then I turn to the rest of the people and continue, “…I’m sorry for disturbing you, Hi, I’m Wendy, what are all of your names?”

And if they seem friendly, I am in. If they give me the cold shoulder, I will just apologize, smile and walk on. It’s their loss.

The polite way

Excusing yourself, for example, “Hi, sorry for disturbing you guys but I couldn’t help over hearing, did you just say you’re a fan of the Beatles? I love them, you mind if I join in?”

The punctual way

I come early so whoever else comes early I just mingle with small talk. I often start off with, “Early birds, glad I am not alone.” If she laughs/gives a positive response, I say, “Hi, I’m Wendy, what’s your name?”

The pre-planned way

If I know who is going, I will contact them and ask if I can join them if they are nice people, and I am already in before entering the occasion because we are already in talks. Groups make it easier to meet others because someone is always pulling people in or attracting people in.

The rude way (AVOID)

Listening in the conversation and putting your two cents in without being invited, or, cutting in with complete disregard.

This is what I follow. It works for me.

What tricks have you found that make it easier for you to join a conversation?

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Comments (10)

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  1. Colleen says:

    I may have been getting it wrong the last 60 years, no wonder I have no friends.
    I listen in on people talk, say at my volunteering and when they talk to each other in office aloud I will jump in. I thought that that is why they were talking out loud, so I could join. Ahhhhhh maybe I need to not do that but then I feel like I am cutting them out.

    • Mary says:

      Colleen, If it’s a clear conversation between two or three people, say someone is asking a question ab

      • Colleen says:

        No like, talking about their dog and having a laugh and is looking or turning half way to me as we in same room. Maybe I was right in interjection, I do worry all the time about everything.

        • Mary says:

          Sounds like you’re fine, except maybe for worrying too much 😉

          • Colleen says:

            Cheers Mary, you should be in my shoes, it’s a worry. I guess some have to worry and some not hey?
            That brings up an issue, do we read body language right? Did I think they were including me or trying to get to know me or in their own world.
            I guess all we can do is, do what we think and it has to be right at that time until it isn’t.

            • Mary says:

              I work on trying not to worry about things too much because I tend to, but I get what you’re saying, if we want things to go well with people, we think about that. Maybe it’s better to err towards worry about wanting to get along, because at least we self reflect, than not care how we affect others. Though, those who don’t worry at all, seem to be more at peace..

    • Mary says:

      Colleen, If you’re an average socially savvy person likely there was nothing wrong with remarking in a room with people talking, and you would know the difference between say, a convo between two or three people that has nothing to do with you and changing the topic to yourself, or a brief convo between people that doesn’t involve you that needs to be had (maybe because of the work in your case), and one where everyone is together and it’s completely natural to interject related to the topic. If people talk to everyone but you alot of the time and you’re in the same room, that would not be polite of them. Maybe your natural way without thinking was fine.

  2. Mary says:

    To me the charming and polite ways are the same as the rude. Especially the charming. I would be mortified if someone interjected themselves in a group and said they liked my dress, placing a focus on me that I would never want, and that would seem fake. “DO you mind if I join you” would be fine.

  3. Lauren says:

    These are really good suggestions on joining a conversation. Very helpful and practical. The *charming way* is very good, but there is one thing… I don’t like ppl asking me where I bought my outfit. Maybe it’s just me, but I think it’s too intrusive (unless it is a good friend who is asking).

    There is a really good book on small talk by Debra Fine, entitled the Fine Art of Small Talk. Check it out. It’s also really helpful.

    • Alice says:

      The Friendship Blog really is a great way to tap into what other women are feeling about friendships because often real-time friends will not provide this kind of honesty, at least not without the chance of losing what friendship you may have had.
      How frustrating is it to read the on-going variety of attempts at suviving the behavior of unkind,clueless, or just plain self-centered people. Earthly Star shared some potentially good suggestions. The corresponding comments point out how futile one’s best efforts might be in any one situation. The moral: You probably can’t please most of the people most of the time”. Pesimistic? Not at all, but, rather the marvelous freedom realizing no matter how nice, polite, respectful, well-meaning, cautious, you might be, a good outcome is not a guarntee. After 66 years of life experience I FINALLY know that you need to be respectful of others but most importanly true and respectful to yourself. Don’t chase people. Be you, do your own thing (in a civil manner)and the right people who belong in your life will come to you and stay.

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