Ever had those moments when you really wanted to talk with someone, but simply couldn’t find the right words? I certainly did — especially if it’s my colleagues, my boss, people I highly admire, or somebody I personally find attractive. For some reason, my tongue would get tied up and that pretty much blew my chance for a potentially great conversation.
I don’t want that to happen to you. Fortunately, there are topics you can bring up to start a great conversation with absolutely anyone. All you really need is the basics of making people feel good about themselves. So no offensive topics, gossiping or whining.
To put you in the right track, try these easy tricks to overcome your fear of talking with people. Most cases you’ll be chatting away within seconds. If not, at least you’ll have a few more contacts to add to your phone.
1. Ask for their opinion
Every person has their own view on the world, so take that to your own advantage and start asking them about their thoughts. What do you think of this place? Is dance music your kind of jam? What’s your preference with coffee? Stick with lighter subjects first and then you can work your way up with more serious topics like politics, sports, and culture. I’d suggest using your surroundings, food, drink or music to give you inspiration to start a quick, interesting conversation. It’ll be even better if you chime in with your own opinions to make talking a lot easier.
2. Hit it off with a personal compliment
Wow! That’s such a beautiful watch. Where did you get it? One of my favorite ways to engage with someone is to mention something cool or positive about a personal belonging of theirs, followed by a question. A necklace, a tie, their shoes, their phone, their bag — they all work! You’ll get them feeling good right off the bat, lessening your status as a stranger to a warm companion.
3. Ask for help
There’s nothing wrong in asking for some help. In fact, it can be a really useful conversation starter, such as where’s the bathroom? Think you can show me where the bar is? It’s my first time here, and I don’t exactly have the greatest skills at navigating. This will give the person you’ve talked to a responsibility to answer.
4. Tell your story
Sometimes, people respond faster if you tell them a little snippet about yourself before you ask for theirs. Think of a story that closely connects to the current situation you’re in and just say it. I waited for five hours at the airport the other day. I hoping this flight will be on time today. If you’re honest with your words and feelings, your listener will open up to your direct sincerity and hop into the conversation.
5. Ask open-ended questions
Yes-no questions are the worst nightmare when it comes to conversations. They usually invite dry and boring talks that no one wants to be in. That’s why it’s important to keep the conversation flowing with more follow-up questions. So instead of asking them whether they’re going to get a drink, you can ask, What drink are you getting? Cool. What do you recommend I should get? The possibilities are endless — just find the most suitable responses.
6. Use their interests
Every one of us loves to talk about what we’re into. Whether it’s our kids, pets or a cuisine we’re addicted to, we enjoy sharing our interests with others. Do they love reading? If so, mention a book you’ve recently read. If they enjoy shopping, talk about the new fashion trends you’ve been noticing at the mall. There’s no better way to start a conversation with a topic they love.
7. Introduce yourself
In many cases, the good old “Hi! I’m (your name). Thought I’d introduce myself!” will do the trick. As surprising as this sounds, people feel more special if you approach them with your name straightforwardly. It takes guts to walk up to someone and be the first to talk, which makes your listener respect your confidence and open up.
Editor’s note: Giving credit to Minda Zetlin for her original post: 11 Foolproof Ways to Start a Conversation with Absolutely Anyone.