Breaking into a group conversation can be hard. When should you do it? What do you say? How do you approach?
Find The Croissant Feet
When scanning a room full of people, look for what I call the croissant feet. Croissant feet happens when someone’s feet are pointed outward, creating a V-shape. The feet are usually angled outward, away from the conversation partner(s). You’ll usually see this when someone is bored of a conversation or looking for someone else to hop in.
In a group, you might notice most people facing towards the center. But you might spot someone’s feet open just a bit to the side, welcoming a bit of connection. Or, you might see their eyes scanning the room a bit.
That croissant person is the person you should approach.
At your next networking event/party/outing, here’s what you can do:
- Try to look for groups of people and find some croissant feet.
- Make eye contact with the croissant person if you can.
- Walk towards them and flash a little smile.
- You can also give them a small “Hi” hand gesture.
- Lightly touch their upper or lower arm and say, “Hey, can I join you?” You might also experiment with other phrases. Check out 57 Killer Conversation Starters So You Can Talk to Anyone
What happens is that when you ask permission, that person becomes your ally. And most of the time they will always agree. If they don’t, no worries! Just continue looking for some more croissant feet.
Be An Adder
Once you’re in the group, be an adder. This means being able to contribute rather than take from a conversation. We like people in conversation who send us cues of warmth. If you want to learn more about sending cues, you can check out Cues by Vanessa Van Edwards to help you understand body language better.
Unlock the Secrets of Charisma
Control and leverage the tiny signals you’re sending—from your stance and facial expressions to your word choice and vocal tone—to improve your personal and professional relationships.
You can give warmth by:
- A nod
- A smile
- A light lean
- Vocal cues, like Mmhmm, Oooh, and Aha
You can also be an adder by being interesting and talking about interesting things.
Have A Back Pocket Question
Oftentimes in a group setting, a conversation topic will sort of fizzle out and there’s that pause when everyone’s just awkwardly quiet. Awkward? It doesn’t have to be!
Have a question for that pause! Asking questions1https://www.hbs.edu/ris/Publication%20Files/Huang%20et%20al%202017_6945bc5e-3b3e-4c0a-addd-254c9e603c60.pdf—especially follow-up questions—has been shown to increase likability. That question can be something like:
- “Does everyone know the host?”
- “Did you see that thing on the way here?”
- “The food here is good!”
- “Doing anything fun?”
- “Got any weekend plans?”
- “Isn’t this venue amazing? Has anyone been here before?”
When you have questions, you’ll be more curious and people will find you more interesting. Try these amazing questions for later: 450 Fun Questions to Ask People in ANY Situation (That Work!)