The era of smartphones, apps, and online communication has killed the art of conversation. Communication is key to all professional and personal relationships. Yet, how do you start a conversation effectively?
Engaging in meaningful conversation can involve any topic; however, there are some general rules of thumb to consider, which vary depending on who you’re talking to and the situation.
4 Rules to Create Effective Conversation
1 – Be Honest
Don’t make things up. Whether you’re networking professionally, on a date trying to make small talk, or meeting new friends, being honest is the quickest way to impress someone and gain their trust.
Talk about what you know, and don’t be afraid to admit when you don’t know something.
2 – Be Courteous
Ask two questions for every bit of information you offer about yourself. Conversation starters help get the flow going, but it’s not just about you. Make it a point to listen as much as you talk. People connect with those that make them feel heard.
3 – Pay Attention To Signals
You may be the suavest conversationalist out there, but if someone doesn’t want to talk to you, pay attention. Reading those signals and following them is also a sign of respect and will contribute to the good impression you’re making.
4 – Ask Open-Ended Questions
Don’t be super specific in your conversation questions. Instead, choose open-ended questions that allow people to take the conversation where they think is appropriate. It’s a great way to get people talking without restriction. Just make sure you listen so that you can continue the conversation from there
5 – Watch Your Body Language
One way to get people to open up and truly engage is to show them that you’re also listening and engaged. Body language plays a significant role here.
Face the person you are talking to, make eye contact, and give them signals to show that you’re listening (e.g., nodding your head).
22 Ideas to Spark Meaningful Conversation
These ideas are meant to help bypass superficial conversations and get people to open up about their real opinions and thoughts. These conversation starters include a combination of questions to ask others and information to share about yourself. Often, opening up first gets others to as well.
- Introduce yourself, state where you are from, or why you’re there
- If someone makes an introduction, discuss how you all are connected
- Ask about where someone is from, where they grew up or went to school
- Ask about your latest travels or upcoming travel plans
- Share a new experience you had
- Discuss items on your bucket list you hope to cross off
- Tell a (tasteful) joke related to the situation you’re in
- Talk about impactful movies
- Discuss your favorite documentaries
- Comment on the meal you’re having
- Share restaurant recommendations and unique establishments to try
- Ask about professional background and experiences
- Bring up an opinion you have on current events
- Talk about the financial markets, news, trends, and investing strategies
- For sports fans, talk about the latest news and share your thoughts
- Discuss the latest book you’re reading (or one you’d like to read)
- Bring up an interesting new resource you have found or life trick to share
- Bring up hobbies – cooking, sports, artistic endeavors
- If the time of year is appropriate, ask about holidays, events, or time off
- Connect with others based on a common issue or struggle you’re experiencing
- Share some happy news or positive event you’ve recently had
- Discuss the most recent life lesson you’ve learned
Find Your Groove
These are specific ideas to spark conversations and really get to know the people you’re with.
It can be intimidating to break the ice when meeting new people and get the conversation going, but don’t let that stop you from trying. The more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll be with yourself and how you speak, and the more comfortable you’ll be in awkward situations.
Conversations starters are good to have in your back pocket so that you are prepared for small talk when you’re with people you don’t know. If you hate making small talk (as many do), hopefully, these tips will help you stay true to yourself and make the conversation more authentic and interesting.
So get out there, push the boundaries of your comfort zone, and find out what your go-to preferred conversation starters are.
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This post was produced by The Female Professional and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Image credit: iStock.
Sanjana is a physician anesthesiologist, avid traveler, and entrepreneur. She founded The Female Professional in order to give women a voice, a community, and provide resources to help them overcome hurdles and achieve success.
With her experiences as a physician, as a CEO of a startup, and as a writer, she understands the struggles and frustrations that women face. She also understands what it takes to move past those things and come out on top.
Through this platform, Sanjana aims to empower women to be their best, authentic, selves, achieve work/life balance, and live life to the fullest.