THE ART OF TALK
No-one knows small talk like an escort. Master of charisma, charm and real-life girlfriend experiences Estelle Lucas schools us on navigating parties like a boss in six easy steps
1. KNOW THYSELF
Some people are natural-born entertainers. If that’s not you, that’s okay, you just have to figure out how to step outside your comfort zone. Before meeting a stranger, I try not to take myself too seriously or anyone else too personally. Self-talk can be your cheerleader or your demise, so remind yourself that pre-party anxiety is natural. In a social setting, everyone is innately picking up on cues you send out, so it’s important to relax.
2. READ THE ROOM
Use your senses to take in the energy around you. Why is everyone here? What’s the noise level? What is everyone’s relation to each other? Are there any cliques that might be challenging to work into? Are they standing or sitting? Are they drinking? What’s the body language? Are you feeling overwhelmed or calm? Answering these simple questions will set up an idea of how to proceed. If you need some time to process, give it to yourself. Go to the bathroom or step out for a second. If you have a friend with you, debrief with them.
3. TAKE INITIATIVE
If there’s a common reason for everyone being at the party, that’s a great conversation starter. It’s important to establish eye contact and listen, because the conversation is going to dry up faster than you think, and you’ll need to keep the flow going until you uncover another topic you can both talk about. Aim to find common ground – that way you both can enjoy engaging with each other. People enjoy relating above all else, it’s just a matter of finding out how.
4. SMALL TALK IS NECESSARY
It’s boring, but small talk keeps conversation going before digging beneath the surface. Ask for name, origin, how their day has been, occupation, hobbies, what’s on for the rest of the night/week or compliment their appearance. You can also offer commentary or ask for theirs on the evening unfolding around you. Maintain a sincere conversation by asking for their opinions and reiterate what you understand from what they’ve said. Answer the questions you pose as well, as this is your chance to offer up new subjects to discuss.
5. RUN WITH A COMMONALITY
It takes just one common exchange with most people, and it will spark up another and another. This will make you appear absolutely charming and easy to talk to. Try to mirror their body language without making it obvious. When they pick up a drink, pick up your own. You want to be on their level the whole time.
6. DON’T TAKE THINGS AT FACE VALUE
It won’t always be smooth sailing. You will encounter someone who stonewalls. Rather than losing yourself into the conversation, you could feel like you’re losing it. It’s key not to go too deep, too fast, especially if you smell confrontation. People have bad days and their own dramas that can affect their engagement in the present. Move on. The beauty of social engagements is there’s always another person to talk to so if one interaction is going south, excuse yourself (for a drink or bathroom break), read the room and try again.