A team of scientists from Boston wanted to understand what really happens when two strangers meet, and they made a surprising discovery about the initial conversation between two people.
Their discovery can help us become better at starting conversations with people we just met. How to start a conversation with talk, which I used to see as something quite pointless, turned out to be more important than they first thought. And we need that mental picture to become comfortable moving on to deeper, more interesting conversation.
So — trying to come up with a good opener or something smart to say will mess up your conversations. Instead, start off with really simple small talk subjects. Read the chapter on how to be more self confident when making conversation here. The first thing to know about conversational goal-setting comes from therapist Emily Roberts, who recommends setting positive goals instead of negative ones. This means choosing goals that you can count your progress towards.
For example, your positive, quantitative goals could include:. If you are serious about improving your conversation skills, it will require intentional practice. Setting goals is a great way to hold yourself accountable for practicing as well as tracking your progress as you improve.
You can find free goal-setting worksheets here. Small talk is one of the most universally hated aspects of social interaction.
This is because of two things:. Small talk is what allows us to get to know someone well enough to begin opening up to them about more personal thingsand this is what leads to bonding, the result of which is deeper conversation.
For this reason, small talk is an absolutely necessary part of making conversation, and skipping it is a fast track to social sabotage.
They apply to any situation, so I can always rely on them to get a conversation going. Then I would have been so much more comfortable meeting people, because biggest fear in making conversation has always been that I might run out of things to say. Like we mentioned before, conversations should be give-and-take instead of a game of 20 Questions. If someone gets the feeling that you know a lot more about them than they know about you, they will start feeling uncomfortable.
Balancing your conversations is a good way to prevent this. One way to do this is by answering your own questions.
This allows the other person to get to know you at the same rate you are getting to know them, even if they are too nervous, shy, etc. I work for a travel agency. Before that I waited tables at a few different restaurants around town. Notice that in the example, you are still asking follow-up questions to express an interest in what is telling you. A willingness to share information about yourself causes other people to instinctively find you trustworthy, while exclusively asking questions and not offering any information about yourself can come across as ingenuine and put the other person under a lot of pressure.
Make sure to spend roughly the same amount of time talking as you How to start a conversation with asking questions. Doing this gives the other person a little more information about you, which makes you more memorable, and it also lets them know where they can find you if they ever need your help or want to socialize further. This will also make you more memorable and easier to find should the other person ever need to contact you.
This question helps you determine if you have any mutual friends. However, to turn a simple question into a full-blown conversation you must be able to ask follow-up questions that elaborate on the response the person gives. Here are some examples:. Some follow-up ideas include asking if they like it, how long they have been doing it, if they have any free time, what they do in their free time, and so on.
Perhaps they know each other through a group or met at an event. I ask them about what type of group it is. What do they do there?
Is it hard to learn? Asking how the person is liking the social event expresses "How to start a conversation with" you care they are enjoying themselves. Even though you may have just met the person, expressing an appropriate amount of care and concern is a great way to bond with someone and pave the way for future conversations and rapport-building.
Offering an opinion and asking for their opinion will keep the conversation going instead of allowing their one-word answer to cause the conversation to hit a dead-end. This is easier for you to respond to, as the door is now open for you to share the things you are enjoying at the event. Helping the person meet people will not only help solve their problem, but it will also help you expand your social circle by introducing someone new to your existing friends.
These types of events always make me nervous. Good thing we met, huh? We can stick together! If the person is from the same town as me, I ask them what area they live in and how they like it there.
The whole building is Memphis Tiger-themed! It was one of my favorite spots in college. If they are from somewhere else, you can follow up on that by asking how they liked it there, why they moved and if they plan on moving back. You can also ask what their favorite things to do in that area are in case you ever visit. When discussing hometowns, you can also ask if they have family there.
Some follow-up questions include:. As the person answers your follow-up questions, remember to share any similar experiences you have had related to the question you asked. It sucks to get stuck in job talk.
But it can be helpful to know what someone is working with, as it will help you find mutual interests.
Not everyone may find your job as interesting as you do, and no matter what the topic is, if you talk about the same thing for too long it will inevitably become boring. The question still relates to what you were just talking about, but it opens the door for an entirely new topic of conversation that will naturally lead into many other new topics.
This is my favorite question! No matter what they reply, you can now begin sharing your own How to start a conversation with and dreams. In my opinion, passions and dreams are the most rewarding subjects you can bring up with someone.
These questions should help you to avoid any awkward silences that may otherwise come up, but make sure to also read this chapter on how to avoid awkward silence.
These seven questions have helped me start great conversations with so many people. Ask them in the way that feels most natural to you, and keep them in mind for use when your conversations begin to lull. There are 3 specific things when it comes to making close friends that surprisingly few people know about. This is simply a summary of what we discussed earlier; use the current situation to break the ice by asking a question or stating an observation.
Then you can begin using the 7 universal questions for making conversation. In other words, there are times when it would be perfectly acceptable for you to remain silent and not socialize with the people around you as opposed to events where it would not be acceptable for you to remain silent. How to start a conversation with