In every conversation there ends up being this awkward pause where neither of you can think of what to say next. It happens. It’s not the end of the world, and sooner or later, one or both of you will either wander away to more interesting places or think of something else to talk about.
Starting a conversation, however, can also feel awkward, especially if you don’t know the person well or you feel out of your depth and shy. What do you say? Whose job is it to say something first? Is talking about the weather too pass to even consider?
If you feel shy about striking up a casual conversation with strangers, a little practice will help to reduce that initial feeling of panic. If you identify yourself as shy or introverted, you can still learn to be outgoing when you want to be. Keep in mind that most people are ready to give you the benefit of the doubt and will respond to your attempts to start a conversation, even if it only lasts 10 seconds.
The next time you’re at a party or other social event or even standing in a long line at the grocery store, try one of these conversation starters and see what happens. If it’s hard at first, it will definitely get easier with practice, and pretty soon you’ll be chatting with perfect strangers as if you’ve known them for years.
At a Party
How do you know the host?
What’s your favorite restaurant?
What’s your favorite movie?
Tell me about what you do.
If you could choose another career, what would it be?
I love your hair/dress/shirt/shoes/handbag etc. Where did you get it?
What have you read anything lately that you loved?
In the Line at the Grocery Store (or anywhere else)
(Bring up some crazy weather event, if a crazy weather event has just happened)
What’s your favorite recipe to make? I’m looking for new ideas.
(If you’re trying a product for the first time, hold it up and ask someone in front of you or behind you if they’ve ever tried it and how they liked it)
What’s the best thing that’s happened to you today?
Do you know how to tell if [insert name of fruit or vegetable here] is ripe?
Try starting conversations with all kinds of people, including those of the opposite sex and those of the same sex as well as people of all ages (only speak to children you don’t know if a parent is nearby and can hear you). Talk to people who look friendly or those who look lonely. Greet the cashier at a store or restaurant and ask how they are doing. Stop a stranger and briefly compliment him or her on something about their hair, clothing, or car. The more comfortable and confident you are in starting a conversation, the more interesting you will appear to be. The more people you talk to, the more experiences and adventures you can bring up in other conversations. Never accept that your shyness or unease is a permanent condition.
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