THE SILENT COMPETITION
Do you have a competitive colleague who usually keeps you at arm's length?
Asking engaging questions is by far the best approach here. How about asking why they decided to attend or what they're looking forward to that week?
Keep things short and sweet and don't fall into the trap of talking too much. Sometimes it is wise to mirror the other person's pace of conversation.
If you are met with out and out silence, then at least you've tried. Never feel awkward about silence, conversation is a two-way street but it helps to have some conversation points prepared in case.
In large companies you might find yourself thrown together with people you've never met or barely spoken to before.
It may sound obvious but introduce yourself really clearly, ask their name and repeat it often to have a better chance of remembering it.
Although it can, and often does sound a little awkward at first, once you're over this molehill the conversation will flow much better.
Smiling through the conversation will put the other person at ease and it'll make them feel comfortable and realise that you are actually interested in what they are saying. You should always make eye contact too. Remember that they may be just as nervous as you too, so there's never a real need to worry.
If you're in a social situation with your boss, keep it casual and don't get into work conversations at a party.
Stay respectful though and don't approach if intoxicated – especially if you have issues you want to air – alcohol will act as a truth serum that you'll regret.
But above all be yourself. Don't feel you have to stay overly formal just because it's your boss. All bosses are just people too.
THE COLLEAGUE YOU DON'T GET ON WITH
In this situation, be aware of your body language. An open stance with the right amount of space between you and them is important.
Listening is key here too, it'll make you look and feel confident if you are engaged.
Keep a natural amount of eye contact and remember to be yourself - don't let someone else sap your confidence.
A great tip if you are really anxious is to imagine a clear barrier or wall between you, which is your confidence protector - using this technique will keep your self-confidence intact. An awkward conversation shouldn't change your whole day, so hang on to your confidence using the wall.
DON'T TALK ABOUT
No talking about the weather! Please. I know this can be an ice breaker but come on - it's dull.
Refrain from excusing yourself or putting yourself down - this is no way to have a decent conversation with anyone and all it does is put you in a position of weakness.
Steer clear of gossip and slating others. Tongues get loose when alcohol is involved and it's always a regret the next day!
DO TALK ABOUT
Talk about your passions; music, work, news.
Make sure the other person is involved in the conversation so it's not just you talking for example 'I've just come back from France on holiday, where have you been this year?'
Always be interested in the other person. Make them the focus and you'll be remembered for making others feel good and interesting. Always compliment, but make it genuine!