How to start a conversation with a stranger or friend – Not everyone likes small talk about everything. In fact, such conversations perform a very useful function: they help to defuse the situation, get out of an awkward situation or start communication in a foreign company, as well as unobtrusively start a conversation and get to know a new interlocutor better.
How to understand that you are too carried away, and how to start a conversation correctly? These five simple tips will help you establish contacts and stop being shy at a crowded party or at a reception.
1. Ask a question
Many people use the easiest and most standard way to start a new conversation.
“What do you do?”
This is a great question to start a conversation with a stranger in countries with a cult of work, such as Singapore or Hong Kong. People from there are used to identify themselves with their occupation.
If you know that this person loves his job and devotes a lot of time to it, feel free to ask. You will get a long enough detailed answer so that the conversation will not end after a short phrase and an awkward pause. Also, the method is well suited for talking at various conferences, seminars, and business events.
After that, you can ask a huge number of working questions: “how long has he been in this business and has been working at this company?”, “Does he like this job?”, “What prompted him to join this company?” and so on.
Questions about clients, business trips, careers, and funny incidents at work—the possibilities are endless.
“What brings you here?”
This question is especially useful for various events, whether house parties or business meetings. Use the answer to continue the conversation.
For example, a phrase like “I’m here to meet new people” means that this person is open to communication and new acquaintances. Perhaps you can share interesting events that are included in your calendar.
“What did you do today?”
Sometimes the answer to this question is standard and uninteresting. And sometimes, they can reveal fascinating details about the interlocutor.
“How was the event?”
If you know where the person has been before, use that as a conversation point. For example, one of your friends or colleagues recently returned from a trip or was at an interesting conference. Ask him about the event.
“What will you do this week?”
Since the question is about the future, ask it closer to the end of the conversation so that you can politely say goodbye later.
Be aware that you may be asked follow-up questions, so be prepared to answer them.
For example, an option that works best in a women’s company: “What a beautiful dress! It fits so well on you. Where did you buy it? And all questions that relate to accessories, hairstyles, and appearance.
Starting a conversation with a friend like “You look great! Did you have a good rest / go on a diet / start exercising? And so on also works well with men.
Compliments regarding the work done will be pleasant to everyone without exception. They work especially well with open and emotional people.
3. Use surrounding objects as a conversation hook
Having met at the conference, say that you liked the speech of a certain speaker, indicate which moments made a good impression, and ask the interlocutor what he thinks about it.
Use what is happening around you for a conversation, thus creating a comfortable atmosphere. After the ice melts, you can move on to more personal topics.
4. Ask for advice or ask for help
Often one question or a simple request for help can lead to a long, exciting, and fruitful conversation.
Why does it work? Because most people like to help. It gives them a sense of importance, a sense that they have done something useful. And admiring reactions to the answers make them feel like a senior mentor.
These may be work-related questions. For example, you can say that you are currently busy with a new project and would like to know the opinion of a person since he is an expert in this field.
Even if you don’t really need help, still ask for it. Advice given by another person can open up interesting prospects before you were previously unnoticed.
The most interesting thing is that a normally silent and modest person can break his standard behavior pattern and show himself from a completely different side. Some people just blossom when someone is interested in their hobbies.
5. Tell something about yourself
What have you been doing in recent months? What new and interesting things did you learn? What goals do you want to achieve in the near future? Tell him about it.
This method is the opposite of method #1: you take the initiative and share some information about yourself that might be interesting.
It is better to use it if your counterpart is very shy and is unlikely to start a conversation with a stranger or friend. Or if the person didn’t respond to your question or comment. Then you can start by being the first to tell about yourself and thus show sincerity.
When people see your willingness to evaluate and discuss, they can relax and open up in return.