Last month, we shared with you tips on how to politely close a conversation. For some of us, on the other hand, the most challenging part of talking with people can also be where to start, especially when you’re approaching someone new.
Have you ever wanted to start a conversation with someone but didn’t know where to start? Did you find yourself missing the opportunity altogether as you struggled for the right thing to say, while the person got involved in another conversation?
Don’t let this happen to you again. Luckily, it’s easy to start a conversation with anyone if you follow this 1 simple rule: say something the person will be happy to hear.
Approach the person, speak pleasantly, and try one of the conversation-starters here:
There’s a decent chance you’ll be chatting away in no time. At the very least, you’ll likely be able to get contact info you can use later on.
Comment on something pleasant.
“Nice turnout for this event!” “Did you hear _____ speaker? I thought it was great.” “These canapés are delicious!” You can find something positive to say in any situation, so find it and say it.
Comment on the weather.
It may sound like a cliché or boring start, but remarking on the unusual or pleasant weather is often a good way to start a conversation — it’s a guaranteed shared experience both between you and the listener.
Ask for assistance.
“Could you hand me one of those brochures, please?” “I misplaced a notepad somewhere, have you seen it around your table?” Requests for assistance are another way to make someone feel helpful. Just make sure whatever you ask for is something the listener can provide without much inconvenience.
You won’t often find yourself in a situation where you can help someone you’re dying to talk to, but if it happens, don’t miss your chance to be of use. “Can I help you carry that large box?” “Do you need a seat? There’s a free one over here.” “Would you like a program? I happen to have an extra.” The listener will be inclined to like you and trust you because you’ve helped out.
Mention a mutual acquaintance.
If you have a mutual acquaintance in common, this is a great lead in to conversation. Naming someone you both know will tell the listener you’re part of his or her extended social circle. Many people will begin thinking of you as someone they know, or should know.
Praise the listener
This works when you’re wondering what to say to someone prominent in your industry or company or someone well known. You’ll never insult someone by saying, “I really love your work,” or “I thought your last article was very insightful.” To be a source of new business for you.