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  • Tracy Hooper

How to "Break and Enter" Conversations

Here’s a Confident Conversation question about “Breaking and Entering.” Not something illegal. The question is, how do you “Break and Enter” conversations with Confidence?”

There are two basic kinds of social “Breaking and Entering.” One is a request, “May I join you?” And the other in an invitation, “Come join us.” To break into a conversation -- at a networking event, business meeting or something social like a wedding reception, simply approach the group and ask, “May I join you?” That’s it. No need to apologize, with, “Sorry to interrupt.” Or, “Sorry, am I butting in?” Or, “Sorry, is this a private conversation?” You don’t need to ask.

If you want, you can say, “May I join you? I just heard you talking about Sam’s start-up. Or your new puppy. Or your vacation to Hawaii.” People love to talk about their vacations and pets! Most of the time, people will welcome you in.

It may feel like you’re eavesdropping which can be rude, but typically it’s not eavesdropping if you’re in a larger setting.

Now, how do you know when NOT to join a conversation? Remember this: Toe-to-Toe means NO. If two people are talking and their eyes are engaged and their feet are pointed directly at each other, that’s the classic clue they don’t want to be interrupted. But, if someone’s foot is turned out to the side and they’re gesturing and glancing a bit, that means the door is open and you can enter the conversation. “May I join you?” Most people will say, “Absolutely, yes.”

If they say, “You know, we’re finishing up an important conversation. Could you give us a few minutes?” Say, “Sure. Thanks for telling me. Take care.”

That’s how you “Break and Enter” with Confidence.

Next time, I’ll teach you how you can welcome someone else into a conversation…especially if you cannot remember their name! Stay tuned and thanks for reading.

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