Are the conversations with your language exchange partners going nowhere fast? It is likely that you’re making this one little mistake that is hurting your conversations from the start.
Time and time again I see people making this mistake; over time I have a developed a strategy to overcome it and make my interactions with language exchange partners a lot more fun and the conversations a lot more meaningful.
So what’s the mistake?
All of the time I see people who start off a conversation with the infamous and most unoriginal opener…
“Hey. How are you?”
And what is everyone’s answer to this inevitable question?
Or if they are a little more social then they might say, “I’m fine, thank you. How are you doing?”
Which of course you respond to by saying, “I’m fine too”
From this point the conversation is done, and someone has to awkwardly put it back together
So the point that I want to make is to get rid of this phrase all together. Just take a moment to think about how often you use the phrase “how are you” to your really good friends, and you’ll probably find that you don’t use it much at all (I know that’s the case with me). You might find that you only really use it when you are checking on a friend if they have been sick or maybe even sad.
Here are a couple of reasons why you want to let go of this phrase and adopt a new strategy
- It’s unoriginal and everyone is doing it – This means that if you are one of the rare people who don’t use it, then you automatically stand out and people instantly want to learn more about you
- No one ever tells the truth – If you are talking to someone that you are meeting for the first time and you ask them how they are doing, what are the chances of them responding “You will not believe it! I got a traffic ticket earlier today, so I was late for work, and because I was late I had to stay later. I was supposed to go to a cookout with all of my friends after work; I haven’t seen some of them in years, and I missed it. You want to know how I’m doing?! I’m terrible!”
I’m sure that they will just tell you that they are “fine”. Or how about this response: “I met the most gorgeous woman yesterday; she was so funny and really cool too. We’re going out tonight and I’m sure that it’s going to be amazing, so I’m doing great!” Chances are you won’t get that response either. Why is that?
It’s because you and the other person have not built up enough trust in each other yet.
- It places too much unnecessary pressure on someone to carry the conversation – What do you say after someone say’s “I’m fine”…… (I’ll wait)….. Exactly!
So what do you want to do instead?
I know that you are learning a foreign language and you want to use easy phrases that you can remember, but taking a little bit of an extra step will make your language learning process so much more fun; you learn more and faster when you are enjoying yourself. You’re going to have to be a little more creative, but that’s okay. The more practice you get exercising your creative muscles, the more you’ll like it, and so will your language partners.
However you choose to exercise that creativity, you will need to allow your personality to shine through
Here are two ideas for you (Things that I have done/ Still do):
- Use humor – Say things that you think are funny because as a general rule people will feel how you feel. Have you ever been around a person you that was sad and all of a sudden you started to feel sad? That is this rule in action. If you’re in a good mood and find something funny then usually (But not always) others will find it funny too. It’s a great way to make both of you feel more comfortable talking to each other
- Share with your language exchange partner something that you have learned about their country or culture – There is a saying that goes,
By showing them that you have an interest in their country or culture, you show them that they can trust you a little more
Now for the challenge? Do you think you can handle it?
For the next 7 days, I do not want you to use the phrase how are you, how are you doing, how is it going, or any other similar phrases. In fact I want you to post in the comments below what you plan to use or what you have already used that’s creative and gains the interest of the other person. Share this challenge and this article with your friends on Facebook so all of you can see if you can make it through the 7 days.