Has a one on one conversation ever felt just as intimidating as walking up on stage to speak in front of an audience? Both are their own brand of nerve-wracking, but there’s a solution for both. However, for today, we’re going to teach you how to master the art of making conversation.
Welcome to Snapreads! Today, we’re bringing you 7 ways to make a conversation. Let’s get started! Whether you’re looking to strike a conversation with a coworker, a crush, a friend, or even just a stranger in the street, one of these ways is bound to strike gold. And you know what? The more you practice, the easier it gets to make conversation.
The 5 Second Rule
by Mel Robbins
⏱ 14 minutes reading time
🎧 Audio version available
Ask for their Opinion
If all else fails, or you’re not even sure where to start, then asking someone for their opinion on something is guaranteed to get you a response. Everyone has opinions, maybe even too much of them. If the person you want to speak to is an acquaintance, one that you don’t really know well, then your best bet is to start with some light-hearted subjects such as music, movies, TV shows, food, et cetera.
A “Do you like to watch horror movies?” will result in the person sharing why they love them or they are going to confide in you how they can’t stomach being scared. The same goes for “What do you think of this song?” They’ll answer why or why not they like that song, and maybe you can ease that conversation into speaking about the artist or ask them which songs they do like. Stay away from potentially sensitive topics such as religion, politics, and things like that unless you already know this person well.
If asking for their opinion fails or you can’t think of something in particular to ask them about, then the next option is going up to them for a piece of advice and recommendation about something.
Ask for and Offer Assistance
This goes both ways; asking for and offering assistance can lead to an entire conversation and even an exchange of phone numbers at the end. Assistance can include anything from offering to help that person carry something to offering them your seat. That person will feel grateful, thank you, and they may be more inclined to like you and be interested in what you have to say next. Just be sure not to overdo or offer too much help such as paying for that stranger’s bill without knowing them or be intrusive if they decline the help.
On the other side of the conversation, you can be the one asking for help. Doing this makes the other person feel needed and helpful, which can make them like you more. Again, make sure that your request isn’t intrusive or excessive and is something that won’t cause too much inconvenience to the listener.
As Open-Ended Questions
Is this the holy grail of conversation starters? Find out for yourself! Open-ended questions don’t just start a conversation, but they may save it from stalling or from becoming boring.
Think about it this way: if you ask a question, and it can be answered with a simple yes or no answer, then don’t be overly surprised when a simple, one word answer is what you get. On the other hand, open-ended questions open entire worlds and realms for the conversation to go in. After that open-ended question, you can follow it up with other questions to keep the conversation smoothly flowing.
For example, let’s say you’re trying to strike a conversation with someone who’s about to eat or at a restaurant. Ask them what kind of food they plan on having and follow it up with asking for recommendations, ask what drink they think can go along with that dish. When in doubt, ask “Why?”
Other examples of how to make a conversation include asking why they chose to go to a particular college, why they chose their major, the story behind an interesting article of clothing they’re wearing, their hobbies, and what they enjoy about them. Such lighthearted questions work like a charm, and it gives positivity to the conversation and makes them feel good.
Mention Something in Common
Finding and mentioning something in common may just be the key to striking a meaningful, easy-flowing conversation.
Does the person you want to speak to have a mutual acquaintance with you or something you know? Then start by asking them about that acquaintance. For example, mention how you currently know this person.
This trick makes people start thinking of you as someone they already know or as someone they should know– it breeds familiarity into your fairly new relationship. Just be sure that this mutual person is someone you’re both on good terms with unless you want to invoke another unsavory reaction.
But what if you can’t find someone you both know? Have no worries! What about a shared experience?
Shared experiences can be talking about the town or city you both may be from. Do you happen to have attended or are currently enrolled at the same school or college? Do you both go to the same dentist? Or do you share a love for a hobby? Find something that’s common ground, and here’s another trick! Make that common ground a path that leads to asking for advice on that experience.
Have a Friendly Approach
As much as we don’t want them to, but first impressions stick. And sometimes, first impressions are made not just within the first few seconds of meeting someone, but before either one of you even starts talking. This is why this tip is essential when it comes to confidently striking up a convo and keeping it running.
Before it even starts, watch your body language. People will be more welcoming and enthusiastic about what you have to say if you have a friendly approach, one that’s expressed with an open and confident body language. Think about when someone first approaches, whether you know it or not, but your brain is trying to figure out if they are a friend or a foe. If they make you feel intimidating, happy, or sad– all of this counts on body language.
So what should you do? You can never go wrong with appearing relaxed. Take a deep breath, roll your shoulder down and back, and smile when you recognize someone you want to talk to. As you walk over, make eye contact and say hello.
This then leads us into how much enthusiasm and energy you should show them and put into this conversation. The answer is a moderate amount. You want the conversation to feel good to that other person. If a person, a stranger, really, walked up to you, slumped over and told you that they feel awful, and then asked you to maintain the conversation, you wouldn’t feel particularly happy about that encounter.
It’s also easy to keep your enthusiasm to a reasonable amount. Not looking like you just chugged two Red Bulls is a healthy balance between excited and hyper.
So the next time you meet someone, find a comfortable balance of energy you can display. Chances are that this stranger will be drawn towards your amazing energy.
Captivate Them With a Story
You have more than a podcast series’ worth of captivating stories waiting to be shared, so why not use that as a segway into a nice conversation. The person will enjoy hearing it, and they’ll probably share a similar story of their own and you’ll both feel connected to each other. Make sure to listen equally to what they have to share as well.
Think about what your favorite stories to tell are. Have you read or watched anything super interesting? Now, you’re ready to captivate them.
Ask About Their Kids or Pets
If all else fails, then asking that person about one of the things– childhood pets, current cats or dogs, and you know they have kids, then asking about them and for updates about their adorable antics is a great conversation starter. The matter of fact is that people love to talk about themselves, and they love to talk about the things that matter to them even more.
At the end of the day, chances are that people probably won’t remember the exact thing that you said, but they’ll remember how you made them feel.
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