It’s no secret that some of us are better at socializing than others. For some people, the idea of approaching a complete stranger and strike up a conversation fills them with anxiety. Especially if said stranger has the potential of becoming someone you could do business with. The pressure that you have to say the right thing can oftentimes be overwhelming and have the opposite effect. Which is why we thought we would provide you with some expert advice on how to start a conversation with a stranger.
How to Start a Conversation: 3 Experts Weigh In
1. Ask Questions
One of the best conversation starters you could think of is asking a question. Author and keynote speaker Bernard Marr warns against questions which can simply be answered with yes/no. Most often than not, the conversation won’t continue after the answer. Try asking open-ended questions instead. Moreover, think of some follow-up questions as well, in case you feel the conversation is about to end. Encourage the person you’ve approached to motivate their answers by asking “why”. Just be careful not to overdo it, because you might end up sounding like a child.
2. Talk About an Event
If you know of any recent events, you might start a conversation by talking about them. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an event, it can also be something trending on the internet. For instance, author Katie Sweeney gives two great examples: the Oscars and the famous white and gold/blue and black dress debate. Almost everybody watches movies, so ask about their favorite Oscar nominations. Similarly, almost everyone who’s on social media knows about the dress debate, so this is a fun and light conversation starter.
3. Ask for Advice
Professional speaker and persuasiveness coach Sharí Alexander encourages people to ask for advice, even though they’re experts themselves. Since no one is an expert in everything, there’s always something new you can learn. Moreover, a lot of people love to give advice and feel flattered if you take the time to ask them. The advice you’re asking for doesn’t have to be extensive. You also shouldn’t get too personal with it, especially if you’ve never met that person. The idea of this conversation starter is simply to connect to the other person and allow them to share their thoughts and ideas with you.
4. Try to Avoid Small Talk
Now that we’ve told you how to start a conversation with someone, let us also advise you how not to start a conversation, namely with small talk. We know it’s difficult sometimes to come up with conversation ideas apart from “How about this weather we’re having?”, but the truth is that most people are tired of hearing the same old question. Marr suggests that you should be able to come up with an unique conversation topic, since every situation you’re in is going to be different from the next.
If you’re on the lookout for more conversation starters, be sure to check out one of our previous articles where we talked about 27 hilarious ideas.
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