The principle behind starting a conversation is to make the group comfortable, but once they’re comfortable, what comes next?
The answer is simple – ask a question or make an observation.
It’s called bridging, and it’s a skill that anyone working on improving their social skills should be comfortable with.
The Bridge Technique:
A bridge is a way to propel a conversation forward and steer it in the direction you want it to go. The first bridge generally happens right after the opener, you ask a question or make an observation. That question or observation should lead to a routine or identity story that will help you build value.
Bridge to Routine Examples:
Observation: I noticed you are wearing a few rings. – leads to – The Ring Finger Routine
Question: Do you guys use the same shampoo? – leads to – The Best Friends Test
Observation: I love the music in this bar. – leads to – It reminds me of this one cocktail lounge I found when I was traveling in Australia… (Identity storytelling)
Tips For Bridging:
One of the best bridges to use after the opener is, “How do you all know each other?” It gives you valuable information about the dynamics of the group.
Observations about body language are great, but if it’s about someone’s physical attractiveness, will come off as hitting on. When starting out, focus on non-physical bridges to be safe and to keep the group comfortable.
Bridges are great for leading to conversations. If you are a musician and want to talk about music make an observation about the music in the venue, then bridge into your story. If you love your job and want to talk about a work-related story ask, “Do you all work together?” Get their answers and bridge into your story.
Bridges are used throughout an interaction, not just after the opener. Anytime you need to move the conversation forward or steer it, a bridge can be applied. In other words, when you feel like you’ve run out of things to say – use a bridge. If you can make a habit of this, you’ll never run out of things to say again.