Are you trying to settle into a new role in your new workplace, trying to build meaningful relationships with your colleagues? but are stuck wondering ‘What’s a good conversation starter?’. In fact, this aspect is not just restricted to the workplace. We all encounter numerous instances in our daily life when we miss out on opportunities to talk to someone new while thinking about the start of our conversation.
Well, conversation starters can be a tricky aspect in getting to know any new person. The way you start a conversation in a way decides the tone of the conversation and how the person perceives you. Conversations are key to your overall development. Exchanging thoughts and ideas with each other is the stepping stone in building meaningful connections.
The key to starting any conversation is to show an interest in the other person, to make them feel like their opinion matters. The way you start a conversation eventually helps you in building valuable relationships with your co-workers and friends.
Here are 8 ways you can start a conversation that’ll keep the other person interested:
Conversation Starter #1: Observe Something Nice
A positive approach to the start of the conversation always creates a positive impact on the other person. We tend to like people who notice something nice and credit us for the same. So the next time you set out to talk to a new person, start with a positive observation about the things around you.
For ex – “That was a great talk by the speaker, what is your take on it?”
– “We had a really good brainstorming session today, I loved all our ideas.”
Conversation Starter #2: Ask an Opinion
You should be keen on listening to what the other person has to say about an issue. Asking an opinion shows that you are involved in the conversation and you respect the other person’s thoughts and perspectives. However, it is important to stick to relevant topics which concern both of you.
For ex – “What did you think about the Group Discussion round?”
– “Would you recommend this course that you have been taking?”
Conversation Starter #3: Compliment Them
Complimenting someone about them or their work always sets you on the right foot. Compliments show that you care for the other person and appreciate their effort. The occasion and what you compliment them on also makes a difference. Don’t push if you don’t have to.
For ex – “I really loved your work on the thesis, it must have been difficult.”
‘…it must have been difficult’ acts as a great opening – it is a subtle invitation for the other person to share their thoughts about a particular issue, since you have established that you understand their situation . This encourages them to speak more and gives you a chance to learn more about the person and carry on the conversation.
#4: Volunteer to Help
Offering help establishes you as an approachable and warm person. It makes you trustable and likeable. If you think you can help a person out in a situation, you should go forward and lend a hand. Your willingness to help is noticed as a positive aspect.
For ex – “Do you want help with the project?”
– “You seem like you are new to this place. Can I show you around the place?”
#5: Ask for Help
Just like volunteering to help, asking for help is also a great conversation starter. It makes the other person feel valuable and useful. Asking for help establishes you as a down to earth person who is willing to ask for help. However, remember to ask something which concerns the both of you.
For ex – “Can you help with setting up the place?”
“Can you help me with this project?”
#6: Common Ground
Look for common ground which instantly creates a connection between you. Talk about topics that interest the both of you. Common interests make the conversation last long and keeps the other person involved.
For Ex – “Hey, these college reunion parties are always awkward right? Socialising with people who were absent for 10 years of my life.”
#7: Shared Experiences
Acknowledging a shared experience helps you gain trust in the other person. Talking about things which both of you encountered and experienced makes the conversation more relatable and significant. Make sure the experience is relevant and recent, you can’t go about asking things like “How was the World War II experience for your family?”
For Ex – “These office parties are always difficult for us first timers, isn’t it? You are supposed to bond with people who basically are going to overburden us for the rest of our lives!”
Conversation Starter #8: Show Interest
The most important aspect of having a fruitful conversation is to show a keen interest in the other person. Through your intent to listen, you need to make them feel like their opinions and experiences matter to you. However don’t go overboard with your interest in the other person’s personal life, since it can be considered as unprofessional in some settings.
For Ex – “Hey, I saw your paintings online the other day. Do you do this full time or is it just a hobby?”
Now that you know how to start a conversation and sustain it in a positive direction, here are a few topics that work well as good conversation starters. While it is important to make conversation, it is also equally important to be mindful of certain topics that you should avoid, or wait until you’ve managed to create a good bond with the person. Keep note that conversations are different in formal and informal settings as well.
Now that you are all prepared to start a conversation with someone new, make sure you have a positive and welcoming body language. Starting the conversation is the first step, how you steer it in the right direction will determine how good or bad the interaction is. Remember to have a positive and open mindset, show your interest with follow up questions and be an attentive listener. Now that you’re well aware of the essentials of a good conversation starter, take that first step and you’ll be able to see how much of a difference it makes in your interactions.