How many times have you avoided talking to someone because you didnt know how to start the conversation?
Or were you afraid that after the first words, you wouldn’t know what to say?
It doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some tips on how to start a conversation with anyone.
Your Initial Goal
The initial goal in starting a conversation is to find common ground and similarities. People like people who are like them, so the more similarities you find, the more comfortable the both of you will become.
Before you go to wherever you will be where you will meet people, prepare.
Look up where you will be. Find out information about the city or town or area of that city or town.
If you know you will be talking to certain people, look them up. Find out what you can about them so that you know what their interests are so that you can do some research on their interests. This will give you questions to ask and comments to make.
Current Events and Arts & Entertainment
Stay in touch with current events and recent movies, tv shows, and or games. Know what is happening in sports. These will give you conversation topics to start a conversation and keep them going.
Come up with some prepared general questions to ask. It could be something simple as family or recreation, or it could have something to do with their occupation or their past. Search the internet for conversation questions and you will find TONS.
Be Bold And Confident
When approaching someone, be bold and confident. You may not feel confident. That’s okay. Just act. Pretend you are. Fake it till you make it. The more you act confident, the more confident you will become.
Don’t wait around for someone to come and talk with you. The same nervousness you feel, the other person also likely feels. Be the person who takes the risk and goes up to people and talks to them. It looks good on you when you do that.
Use Your Senses and Surroundings
Some of the easiest conversation topics are those right in front of you. If you are at a party, networking event, coffee shop, street corner – all of those are a basis of similarity and can be a basis for a lot of questions and comments.
Make a comment and/or ask about the music, the street traffic, the coffee, the host, the food, whatever. Use whatever is around you to start a conversation.
You can usually tell when someone is approachable. If the are standing or sitting, looking around, they are likely to be open to talk. Catch the person’s eyes and smile. If they smile back, then they are open to talk.
Or you can go to the person and make a comment ask a question. If they don’t seem like they want to talk with their responses (such as short answers or they keep looking elsewhere), just move on.
If the person is staring at their phone, they may be busy, or they may just be bored because they don’t have anyone to talk to and don’t want to take the risk themselves.
If they are standing or sitting with their arms crossed with an angry frown on their face, you might want to avoid them.
Just pay attention to body language and smile at people. Generally, if they smile back, they are willing to talk .
When you go up to someone to talk to them, look them in the eye, smile, give a firm handshake, tell them your name and ask for theirs. Then repeat their name back.
From there ask a question based on the surroundings or a prepared question.
You can also start off a conversation by a comment or question. For example, if you both are standing in line at the coffee shop. You can make a comment about the coffee or ask a question something related to your surroundings or senses, and go from there.
After you start talking you can say something like, “My name is X, by the way, what’s yours?”.
The A.R.E. Method
Carol Fleming introduced what is known as the A.R.E. Method.
The A stands for Anchor.
The R stands for Reveal.
The E stands for Encourage.
With the Anchor, you want to locate and establish a shared experience. It could be the class you both take, the weather, your location, or even the way you dress.
“The weather has been really nice lately”
“Wow, the food here has been great”
“I love the coffee at this café.”
“The exhibits at the museum are great. “
With the Reveal, You reveal information about yourself related to the shared experience.
“I love to sit outside and read when it feels this good outside.”
“I love the little meatballs at the end of the table.”
“My favorite by far is the caramel macchiato.”
“I loved seeing the dinosaur bones in the previous room.”
With the Encourage, you encourage the other person to talk by asking them a question related to the shared experience that is open-ended.
“What is your favorite activity to do in weather like this?”
“What is the best snack you have ever had at a party?”
“What do you think about the coffee here?”
“What has been your most favorite exhibit so far?”
Genuine compliments and appreciation are great ways to start a conversation. People love being complimented, and it opens the door for conversation.
When you compliment someone, you give the compliment, then ask a question based on the compliment. For example:
“You did an amazing job putting this party together. Did you do it by yourself?”
“I love that necklace. Does it have a special meaning?”
“You sure were able to handle that situation well. How did you learn to do that?”
“You are amazing at soccer. Where did you learn to play?”
“I love your sweater. Where did you get it?”
Just take the risk
The biggest part of starting a conversation is just to goout there and do it. You will fail and make mistakes, and that is ok. Just learn from it. The more you practice, the better you will get.
Try these steps. Remember that your number one goal is to find common ground. Prepare, be bold and confident, use your senses, find the approachable person, greet well, and try out the A.R.E. Method, and you will be on the way to being a conversation star.
What other ways have you found effective in starting a conversation?