How to Start a Conversation
Starting a conversation is a common problem encountered by many, especially shy people. We worry if the person we will talk to will ignore us, be frightened of us or may not like talking to us. This post is all about starting a conversation that will hopefully tear down the walls between strangers or strengthen the bond between acquaintances and friends.
- Know if it's even the right time to start a conversation.--We may want to talk to someone, but does that someone want to talk to us? Is he/she in the mood for a conversation or would it be better to let them be alone for a while? This is the first thing we have to bear in mind before starting a conversation. Most conversations end up in a mess because it should not have begun in the first place. Look for signs if the person may not be in a good mood to talk. (facial expressions, gestures that show annoyance, being busy, etc.)
- Look around to see if there's anything interesting to talk about.--See if you can talk about the weather if you're outside. (although if you can talk about something else, it would be better) Is there anything fascinating around you like a parade that might be worth talking about? If there's none, then look at what the person is wearing and/or doing. it might give you a clue as to what topic might interest him/her. Is he/she wearing athletic clothes? (Perhaps you can start talking about sports) Is he/she reading the newspaper? (Then, maybe you can mention a recent article you've read.) Is he/she carrying some heavy things?(Maybe you can help him/her out.)
- Compliment him/her. --Is there anything about the person worth complimenting? (I think so, for if there wasn't, you may not even be interested talking to him/her.^^) If you're both women, maybe you can compliment her make up if she's wearing any, or her clothes or hair or accessories. (Just make sure it really looks nice so as not to insult the person.) If you're both men, then maybe you can talk about his shoes or jacket. (Try to be very careful in complimenting men though if you are both men, for he may think you're gay or a thief.)
- Ask open-ended questions.-- Make sure the questions you ask are those that would invite the other person to talk more, instead of just nodding or answering with a yes or no. However, try to ask questions that are 'safe' (meaning the other person will not likely be offended by it) such as interests, food, weather, news, etc.. People generally like talking about themselves, so you should take this opportunity to prolong the conversation and learn more about that person. From his/her replies, you can get clues as to which topics he is more comfortable talking about. However, try to avoid asking too personal questions and too many questions as well, for it may give an atmosphere of interrogation that will scare off the other person. Also, avoid bringing up topics such as religion, age, marriage, divorce, politics and other sensitive topics.
- Look interested.--Establish eye contact and look interested in what he/she is saying. A good conversationalist is not one who talks more but one who listens more. You can use your body language to also appear interested in the topic or the person. You can lean more towards the person, nod and smile to show that you understand what he/she is talking about.