Painless Ways to Strike Up Conversations With Strangers
It doesn't matter how shy you are, these icebreakers will help get the conversation going.
Sometimes you need to start a conversation with a stranger. Maybe you're a salesperson and you need to prospect. Maybe you're new in town and looking to make connections. Or maybe you're trying to spark a romantic connection and don't want to rely on the same old tired pick up lines.
No matter the situation, the hardest part of striking up a conversation with a total stranger is the very first sentence you speak. Once you get things going, it's easier to warm up, but working up the courage to spit out those initial words can be a bear!
Here are ten tested and proven conversation starters that will help get you on the way to flawless, natural, organic conversations in no time!
1) Introduce Yourself And Ask Their Name - There are very few things in language more powerful than names, both your own and the other person's. Immediately getting a conversation off on a first name basis makes it feel personal right off the bat, and also establishes a rapport.
2) Ask After the Person's Wellbeing - It's amazing in society today how few times most people talk to someone who genuinely cares how they are, and what's going on with them. That's the secret here. Be genuine, and actually care. People want to talk about themselves, and their lives. It's instinctual, it's a need. Just give them a safe place to do it.
3) Comment on the Common Situation You Both Find Yourselves In - Are you waiting in a long line? At a PTA meeting? In a club? Eating in a restaurant? Whatever the situation you find yourself in with a stranger (scratch that - future friend!), you have something in common already by virtue of the identical space and time that you are both currently sharing. Use that commonality to start off a conversation!
4) Compliment Them - Again, this is a situation where falseness will be detected a mile off, so you need to do an internal check and make sure that you are being genuine. But, the truth is, people not only want but NEED to hear good things about themselves, it's psychological imperative. By filling that void, you can strike up a conversation in which the other person, from the very first moment, feels valued and seen.
5) Inquire About Them With Genuine Interest - Just like most people don't have a whole lot of opportunities to talk about how they are doing and how their life is going, although human beings genuinely need to talk about those things, there aren't a lot of opportunities for most people to talk about themselves, what constitutes their life, and what makes them tick with a genuinely interested other party. By providing that opportunity and that interested ear, you can begin what could be truly important and real conversation.
6) The Mysterious Approach...Smile and Then Walk Away - Now, I'm not going to lie. This one takes some finesse. It takes some charm. It takes some savior faire. You don't want this move to come off as creepy, after all! But if you have the inner confidence and swagger to pull it off, it can be one of the absolute most effective techniques there is for piqueing someone's interest. If you can start them wondering about you, in a good way, before you even start talking, then you will definitely stand out in their memory!
7) Comment on the Weather - Now, don't laugh, I know you're thinking this is beyond trite! And, true, the weather is almost comically overused when talking about the subject of conversation starters. However, that is why you never pull this one out unless there is something going on with the weather that is truly remarkable. If there IS a remarkable event happening with the weather, trust me, no one is going to say - "Wow, so you decided to rely on the weather, huh? Amateur!" They're going to be too busy talking about the impending hurricane, or the 120 degree heat, or whatever the case may be!
8) Comment on an Event of Local Importance - From small towns to giant metropolises, people do keep up on news and events that are happening locally. Just like I would avoid politics at the dinner table, I would avoid politics in this tactic as well. Politics are polarizing, and your goal is to build an immediate rapport. Rather focus on upcoming concerts, fairs, plays, graduations, openings, etc - things the whole town is excitedly looking forward to. This will create an immediate positive correlation in their mind between you and the event they are excited about - even if it's only subconscious.
9) Comment on an Upcoming Holiday - From Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas to Valentine's to Memorial Day to Independence Day to Labor Day to EVERYTHING in between, people love holidays. Asking someone what their plans are for an upcoming holiday celebration is a great conversation starter.
10) Be Honest - Just Ask If You Can Talk to Them - You know that old saying, "If all else fails - be honest." - well it applies here as well. If you really can't think of another hook to begin a conversation, just honestly tell them that you're trying to meet new people and ask if it would be alright to talk with them for a few minutes. Sure, it might seem awkward, but awkwardness can be charming. A lot of people will be just taken aback enough by this tactic that it will actually get their attention in a major way!
Lastly, no converstation starter in the world will be good enough to help you if you are just plain terrified and awkward. The best thing that you can do for yourself is to take a deep breath, calm down, and do your absolute best to exude confidence. Inner confidence is the best conversation starter there is!