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How to start a conversation

For someone who is an introvert meeting new people can be a difficult experience. The main problem that introverts and most people experience is not knowing how to start a conversation when you meet someone. You get to meet people in different places – while traveling, at work, and at parties. You would probably like to talk to them but don’t know how to do it. Some people face this problem even while talking to a person they know. They just don’t know how to get started.

We tell you how you can start a conversation with someone whatever may be the place or situation. The tips given here can help you easily start a conversation.

Start with the weather

One of the oldest and most popular ways to start a conversation is to talk about the weather. “It’s a fine day, isn’t it?” or “It’s so dull and gloomy, hope the weather clears up soon” are good examples to start a conversation using weather. Based on the response of the other person, you can continue the conversation by moving on to other topics. From weather, you can talk about why you are at that place and let the conversation flow.

Apart from the weather, you can even start with the latest news. You can talk about sports and how your favorite team is doing. You can even talk about the trending news for the day. It is advisable to leave out religion and politics when you are starting a conversation. After all, you want to start a conversation, not a fight!

Start talking about the situation/venue

When you meet someone, it will be at a venue or in a particular situation. So, start with that. For example, if you are at a party, you can probably start with “X has organized a great party today, I am glad I am here”. If you are at an office event, you can start the conversation by talking about the event. You could start with, “This is the first time I am making a presentation, how about you?” This not only starts a conversation, but also draws the other person into it.

If you are at a bus stop or train station, you can start a conversation by asking when the next bus/train would arrive or how crowded it is. If you are at someone’s house for a party or any other event and meet someone new, you can start a conversation by talking about the house owner. You can start with, “X has such a nice house, I love the way she has done the interiors.”

Start with an introduction

This is the best way, especially at business events where people meet to network. You can walk up to the person you want to talk to, offer your hand and say, “Hi, I am X.” You can move the conversation forward by telling something about your work/career in one line and explaining why you are at this event. This approach would be good at work/business events but may not be suitable for social events.

Compliment the other person

To have a good conversation with someone, you need not be ‘interesting’, you have to be ‘interested’ – in the other person. One good way of doing this is by offering a compliment. You should do this, only if you are sincere about it or there is something worth complimenting.  If you are at an official event, you can offer a compliment to the other person on the talk he delivered or on the award he received. This will help to start a conversation. A compliment will flatter most people and make them open up to you. Don’t offer a compliment that sounds fake or artificial.

Talk about a mutual friend

If you have a mutual friend, maybe the host of the party, you can start the conversation by talking about him. “How do you know X?” or “I know X from a long time, he is such a great guy” can be a good way to start a conversation. If you meet a new colleague at office, you can talk about the boss. That would be a good enough subject to start a conversation.

Use IFR technique

IFR stands for Inquire, Follow-up, and Relate. This is a great way to start a conversation and take it ahead. The first step is to inquire or ask a question. You can then follow-up on the answer given by the other person to the question. Lastly, relate the answer to yourself or the other person to get the conversation going.

You can consider the following example on how to follow this technique.

You: “Do you know who the next speaker is?” (Inquire)

Other person: “It is Ms. X.”

You: “Wasn’t she the key speaker at last year’s conference?” (Follow-up)

Other person: “Yes, I enjoyed her talk last year.”

You: “I missed her talk, but I sure I am going to enjoy her talk today. I am interested in <subject/topic>, how about you?” (Relate)

Starting a conversation with someone from the opposite sex

This is one reason most people like to start a conversation. You have to start talking without sounding flirty. One of the best ways to do it is to ask the direction to some place (“Can you tell me where the library is?”). You can borrow something from the other person. (“Can you lend me a pen for a moment?”). You can even ask the other person something specific, like “Are you here for the training on Java?” You can then use the IFR technique to take the conversation ahead.

Follow-up is important

Starting a conversation can be done in any of the ways listed above. Once you start a conversation, follow-up by continuing the talk. Talk more about the other person, not about yourself. This is the best way to make the other person respond to you. This is a great way to move the conversation ahead and get to know the other person.