Striking up conversation at a party

In summary: I was left standing alone and couldn't find anyone to connect with.In summary, the speaker is recounting a situation from a party where they felt isolated and unable to connect with anyone. They discuss the difficulty of breaking into one-on-one conversations, and suggest using a tray of food or drink as a way to join in. The speaker also expresses frustration with the lack of introductions and interest in each other's professions, citing this as a cultural issue in the Netherlands. They also share a humorous anecdote about an awkward interaction with a man from Ireland at the party.
  • #1
Monique
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So yesterday I was at a party and a situation still bothers me, I was wondering how others would deal with it. Basically I knew none of the women and few of the men on a superficial level. I was in a conversation with my boyfriend and a female. My boyfriend excuses himself, the female also walks away.

I'm left standing, so look around and there's someone I can approach, I ask her how she knows the host and she replies that she's the girlfriend of let's say Joe. Now Joe and my boyfriend have been meeting a lot lately, so I'm happy to meet her and start talking to her. But she's holding a birthday card, she walks away to hand over the card to someone else. I was expecting her to return to continue the conversation, but that doesn't happen.

Ok, alone again, I look around and there are four women standing close by, but they're talking one-on-one. I turn to them in the hope to join the conversation, but I can't make out what they're talking about and figure they're friends and probably don't want me to join their private conversation.

I didn't feel there was anyone in the room I could connect with, so go and find my boyfriend to have a conduit for conversation. I felt pretty bad though and was wondering whether I should have connected to those women. I already congratulated everyone/introduced myself to everyone in the room, so I couldn't use that to break the conversation.

Do other people break into one-on-one conversations of strangers at parties (and how?) or is that better not done?
 
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  • #2
Don't. Just hang on the outskirts of a conversation and wait to be invited in.
 
  • #3
I think you already know how these things go.
Breaking in on a one-on-one conversation is difficult.
Often it will feel for them as a breach of privacy and it also looks like you're desperate to connect which will feel embarrassing to them.
Sometimes it can work, but then you need something special.

One trick that I've learned, is to go around with a tray of food or drink, even if it is not mine.
People tend to appreciate the gesture and some will let you in.
 
  • #4
Great, that already makes me feel so much better! I just did the right thing in walking away :smile: The tray idea is a good one, will keep that in mind.

I just find people to be so careless, if I were among a group of friends and a stranger walks in I'd make an effort to get to know that person and introduce people by giving extra information (This is Helen, I know her from painting class). That at least gives an opening, now I always have to go by cold readings.

Also I find that men never are interested / don't dare to ask what a woman does for a profession. Can't say that it annoys me, but I also find it careless (because all the males do get that question).
 
  • #5
Monique said:
Great, that already makes me feel so much better! I just did the right thing in walking away :smile: The tray idea is a good one, will keep that in mind.

I just find people to be so careless, if I were among a group of friends and a stranger walks in I'd make an effort to get to know that person and introduce people by giving extra information (This is Helen, I know her from painting class). That at least gives an opening, now I always have to go by cold readings.

Also I find that men never are interested / don't dare to ask what a woman does for a profession. Can't say that it annoys me, but I also find it careless (because all the males do get that question).
It's the job of the host/hostess of the party to make introductions and make sure everyone feels comfortable.
 
  • #6
Monique said:
Also I find that men never are interested / don't dare to ask what a woman does for a profession.
Maybe the Netherlands isn't as civilized a place as I thought. I always want to know about a woman's work and learn about it from her. My ex-, our nephew and one of his sisters all work as housekeepers/cook's assistants in rig camps. Their stories, while perhaps banal compared to finding the Higgs bosun, are nonetheless enlightening. (Especially the one with the bear stalking workers when they left the shack.)
 
  • #7
Evo said:
It's the job of the host/hostess of the party to make introductions and make sure everyone feels comfortable.
Oh, that never happens. Especially at birthday parties it's the duty of the guest to shake hands with every attendee and say "congratulations". If one encounters a stranger it's an opportunity to exchange names, but often there are people who just say congratulations no matter if they're acquainted. Or there are people who come in and say "hello, I don't know you all, but I'm not going to shake your hand, I just like you to know I'm Dennis". Seriously, happened last week. The group replied "Hello Dennis, are you going to tell us your affliction?".

Just for fun, get some insight in Dutch birthday parties: http://www.expatica.com/nl/lifestyle_leisure/blogs_photos/the-circle-game-158.html Thank god yesterday there was no dreaded circle.
Danger said:
Maybe the Netherlands isn't as civilized a place as I thought. I always want to know about a woman's work and learn about it from her. My ex-, our nephew and one of his sisters all work as housekeepers/cook's assistants in rig camps. Their stories, while perhaps banal compared to finding the Higgs bosun, are nonetheless enlightening. (Especially the one with the bear stalking workers when they left the shack.)
Oh it isn't, being courteous is not in the dictionary. I met some guy at the party, after finding out he's from Ireland the first question he asked me is if I've ever done a black guy :confused: The conversation only went down from there.
 
  • #8
One thing you can do is walk around and listen out for a conversation that you have something to contribute to, and then join in at the right time. It's hard to find that right time. It's nice when you can butt in at a silent point, but it's kinda awkward if you interrupt someone beginning to say something. If you accidentally interrupt, you can either casually say something like "oh no, you go ahead", or you can say "I'm sorry, I was just going to say that...". If you decided to pass priority to someone else, you'll be in queue for the next thing to say. Either way you're in the conversation.

Another thing you can do is look for people who look like they're just having a conversation of small talk. Those can be kinda awkward for the two, because they're talking just to talk, and they can sometimes be struggling to find things to say. Such as...
"So this is one heck of a party, huh?"
"Yeah... yeah... so... you know Joe from work?"
"Yeah... yeah... I've worked there... let me see... 2 years... no wait, that was my last job..."
etc...

So if you can get in on one of those conversations, they'll be really appreciative. You can say just about anything to liven that one up and make them feel more comfortable.

Another option is you can just talk to yourself and hope someone comes up to you to join your solo-conversation before someone calls the white coats to pick you up.
 
  • #9
Monique said:
So yesterday I was at a party and a situation still bothers me, I was wondering how others would deal with it. Basically I knew none of the women and few of the men on a superficial level. I was in a conversation with my boyfriend and a female. My boyfriend excuses himself, the female also walks away.

I'm left standing, so look around and there's someone I can approach, I ask her how she knows the host and she replies that she's the girlfriend of let's say Joe. Now Joe and my boyfriend have been meeting a lot lately, so I'm happy to meet her and start talking to her. But she's holding a birthday card, she walks away to hand over the card to someone else. I was expecting her to return to continue the conversation, but that doesn't happen.

Ok, alone again, I look around and there are four women standing close by, but they're talking one-on-one. I turn to them in the hope to join the conversation, but I can't make out what they're talking about and figure they're friends and probably don't want me to join their private conversation.

I didn't feel there was anyone in the room I could connect with, so go and find my boyfriend to have a conduit for conversation. I felt pretty bad though and was wondering whether I should have connected to those women. I already congratulated everyone/introduced myself to everyone in the room, so I couldn't use that to break the conversation.

Do other people break into one-on-one conversations of strangers at parties (and how?) or is that better not done?

I can't break into conversations. It seems when I've tried I get the evil eye. It doesn't help that I'm a total dork and it takes me a while to warm up to people I don't know.

I've also found that in a party situation, it's harder to connect with female strangers than with male ones.
 
  • #10
My wife is the social butterfly, she can hop in and out of conversation flawlessly. I, on the other hand, sit in a corner looking angry at being there. However, after being scolded a few times for doing that, I now bring my tablet along and play angry birds. I find asking people for help on level xxx to be a good ice breaker :).
 
  • #11
lisab said:
I can't break into conversations. It seems when I've tried I get the evil eye. It doesn't help that I'm a total dork and it takes me a while to warm up to people I don't know.

I've also found that in a party situation, it's harder to connect with female strangers than with male ones.
I'm the same, also about connecting with females, that's why I wanted to make an effort and get to know some of these females. In the end I only talked to the males, strange how that works.

MarneMath said:
My wife is the social butterfly, she can hop in and out of conversation flawlessly. I, on the other hand, sit in a corner looking angry at being there. However, after being scolded a few times for doing that, I now bring my tablet along and play angry birds. I find asking people for help on level xxx to be a good ice breaker :).
My boyfriend is the same, he can talk to anyone. That doesn't help me, since he takes over any conversation. Playing angry birds, haha, well I've never seen someone use that trick before :smile:
 
  • #12
Were you a "plus one" on the party?
I'm used to it that if someone brings a "plus one" they arrive early and both leave within the hour, even if the "plus one" is properly introduced.
 
  • #13
I like Serena said:
Were you a "plus one" on the party?
I'm used to it that if someone brings a "plus one" they arrive early and both leave within the hour, even if the "plus one" is properly introduced.

Sort of, but I've never left a party early because of that. I'm plus one so often, because my boyfriend has such a large and diverse circle of friends. Yesterday I was supposed to be +1 at some institution's anniversary party that would be filled with absolute strangers that are in the music business, I told him to bring someone else who actually had an interest in music :biggrin:
 
  • #14
Monique said:
So yesterday I was at a party and a situation still bothers me, I was wondering how others would deal with it. Basically I knew none of the women and few of the men on a superficial level.

I have to say, genuinely, that I actually like these situations. I find that embracing the awkward is the quickest method for circumventing it. It's true that violating a one-on-one could be considered rude... BUT if you're able to catch a key word (like "Volkswagen") pause for a moment to see if the context is a casual discussion.

Par exemple:
  • "...just got a red Volkswagen Jetta, too. They're great on gas and..." [GO AHEAD AND JOIN IN!]
  • "...after the cuffs went on he pushed us on the hood of my Volkswagen..." [ABORT ABORT ABORT!]

All you have to do is say: "Couldn't help but overhead you're talking about Volkswagens..." Or "I'm so sorry to interrupt, but are you talking about the new Volkswagen?" Then toss in a "I'm Flex by the way." (But use your name instead.)

In a crowded room it doesn't take long to find a conversation you can join, and usually you'll have a pick of topics! Don't like cars? Move on, the next guy is talking about movies.

It's definitely awkward, and if you're not really accepted into the group it's easy to just say: "Well, thanks for the info, I was just curious... " and walk away.
 
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  • #15
Monique said:
Oh it isn't, being courteous is not in the dictionary. I met some guy at the party, after finding out he's from Ireland the first question he asked me is if I've ever done a black guy :confused: The conversation only went down from there.

Wow, that would be grounds for murder in my book. If I ever found out some guy asked my girlfriend something like that I would go ballistic. I'm getting angry just thinking about it.
 
  • #16
Monique said:
Oh it isn't, being courteous is not in the dictionary. I met some guy at the party, after finding out he's from Ireland the first question he asked me is if I've ever done a black guy :confused: The conversation only went down from there.
trololol don't you just love people :)? Oh god this made me lol so hard.
 
  • #17
dipole said:
Wow, that would be grounds for murder in my book. If I ever found out some guy asked my girlfriend something like that I would go ballistic. I'm getting angry just thinking about it.

HAHAHAHA.

I would have laughed so loud.

"I think I did... but it was so big, it knocked me out. "

My boyfriend wouldn't care but he'd probably look at them strangely.
 
  • #18
dipole said:
Wow, that would be grounds for murder in my book. If I ever found out some guy asked my girlfriend something like that I would go ballistic. I'm getting angry just thinking about it.
I wouldn't be angry. I've met one or two Irishmen and found they have a weird sense of humor.
 
  • #19
Monique said:
Oh it isn't, being courteous is not in the dictionary. I met some guy at the party, after finding out he's from Ireland the first question he asked me is if I've ever done a black guy :confused: The conversation only went down from there.

WannabeNewton said:
trololol don't you just love people :)? Oh god this made me lol so hard.

It made you what?! :eek:

EDIT: OH! I didn't see the "lol" at first.
 
  • #20
Priceless.

Again, WannabeNewton's gender is in dispute.
 
  • #21
FlexGunship said:
It made you what?! :eek:

EDIT: OH! I didn't see the "lol" at first.
I must have put the "lol" in there by accident.
 
  • #22
She did say the conversation went downhill.

Cheers
 
  • #23
HayleySarg said:
She did say the conversation went downhill.
Oh jesus christ this is just pure gold. I feel like I'm in a Seinfeld episode.
 
  • #24
dipole said:
Wow, that would be grounds for murder in my book. If I ever found out some guy asked my girlfriend something like that I would go ballistic. I'm getting angry just thinking about it.
If a guy asked my girlfriend that - I would be completely unaffected.
 
  • #25
Jorriss said:
If a guy asked my girlfriend that - I would be completely unaffected.
That hurts man. That just hurts.
 
  • #26
WannabeNewton said:
That hurts man. That just hurts.
Don't take it personally babe, you know I love you but this is the 21st century.
 
  • #27
WannabeNewton said:
That hurts man. That just hurts.

Go write a song about it.
 
  • #28
HayleySarg said:
Go write a song about it.
I did. . True story.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #29
This 2 are going to end up married. WBN and HayleySarg.
 
  • #30
Lies. I don't like blond girls.

Cheers
 
Last edited:
  • #31
HayleySarg said:
Lies. I don't like blond girls.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #32
It's okay. I understand. You wanted to roll in my deep. </3

Now I must scurry away. Out of respect for this thread. I don't want to derail it too wildly.
 
  • #33
HayleySarg said:
I don't like blond girls.

neither do i.
 
  • #34
Monique said:
...

Do other people break into one-on-one conversations of strangers at parties (and how?) or is that better not done?

I very seldom interrupt a one-on-one conversation.

Though yesterday, I did. I told a gentleman sitting on a bench, not too look, but the lady sitting next to him had just laid an egg.

He, and the two ladies sitting to his left and right, looked at me as if I were insane.

They all looked older than I, so rather than telling them to get up and see for themselves, I bent down, picked up the egg, and showed it to them. The conversation didn't go much further, but at least they didn't think I was insane anymore.

But putting eggs underneath people* would probably be a very strange thing to do to break into conversations, so you might try buying a t-shirt. Nothing too bright. In a social setting like a party, I would recommend the lowest contrasting, most Earth toned of colors.

Think subliminal.

PHYSICS FORUMS

--------------------------
* No, I did not put the egg there. I just thought it was very strange to see an egg in that spot underneath that lady. In 23 years, I'd never seen an egg on the ground like that. (They don't allow chickens into the fair, so my first illogical thought was; "That lady just laid an egg. How strange. I must share this with someone.)
 
  • #35
I live in the Netherlands and striking up a conversation at a birthday party does not need to be difficult usually the people know each other very well or they don't. When they do not know each other the conversations are usually shallow i.e. a nice way to barge into the conversation and change the subject.

Also, Monique, this kind of talking your way into conversations is exactly one of the problems dutch males have when trying to flirt with girls in groups it is hard!

I just ask some silly shallow questions usually that gets the conversation started up pretty fast at a birthday. Also, being a women should be advantageous when joining social interactions. Walking away is the wrong thing to do the Dutch people will think that your not interested in them!
 

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