Some people are born with the gift of gab and love to talk, talk, talk. And thennn, there’s the rest of us. You know, the eyes-down-earbuds-in kind of people who do our very best to avoid making small talk (or even eye contact). C’mon fellow introverts, who’s with me?
Unfortunately for us, talking to people face-to-face is actually a legit skill that you need to master in order to be successful in school, relationships, work, and life in general. The good news? There are a few simple tricks you can use to strike up a conversation with anyone, anywhere…without the typical small talk awkwardness. So, eyes up, phone down. Ready? Let’s go.
3 NO-FAIL CONVERSATION STARTERS
1 | COMPLIMENT + QUESTION
This two-step tip is as easy as it sounds. First give a compliment and then ask a related question. For example, if you see someone wearing a shirt with a picture of a snowboarder on it, you could say: Hey, cool shirt. (compliment) Do you board? (question) Keep it casual by complimenting someone’s appearance or something they’re reading, eating, or doing, like this:
“That’s a great book. Do you read a lot of sci-fi?”
“Your hair looks different today. Did you get a new style?”
“Your performance last night was awesome. How long have you been playing piano?”
“That pizza looks amazing. What’s your favorite pizza place around here?”
2 | ASK FOR OR OFFER HELP
If you see someone who could use a hand or if you need help yourself, take advantage of the opportunity to use the situation as a conversation starter. While you’re helping out (or getting help), keep the conversation going by using one of the other tips on this list.
“That looks heavy. Let me give you a hand.”
“You look lost. Can I help you find something?”
“Could you please reach the top shelf for me?”
“Do you know what time third period ends?
“I’m stuck on this math problem. Do you have a second to help me out?”
3 | FIND COMMONALITY
Starting a conversation by mentioning something you have in common helps people relax and be more open to talking than if you were just a random stranger. So think try to think of something you might have in common, such as playing the same sport, having the same hobby, or liking the same music. Then use what you have in common to start the conversation with a question, like this:
“I passed you on the bike trail on Saturday. Do you ride every weekend?”
“You watch Riverdale, right? Could you believe last night’s episode?”
“I had Mr. Davis for World Civ last year, too. Are his tests still totally brutal?”
“I heard your brother’s starting quarterback tonight. Are you going to the game?”
BONUS TIP | ASK FOR AN OPINION
The first three tips above work really well, but this fourth one truly never fails. Like, ever. Why? Because everyone has an opinion. And as long as you don’t ask about anything too personal or controversial (like politics, religion, or gossip), asking someone’s opinion is possibly your best shot at starting a quality conversation with someone. Here are a few ideas to try:
“So, what did you think of the game last night? Was that a bogus final call or what?”
“My playlist is totally tired. Any good music suggestions?”
“Hey, how do you think you did on the test today?”
“What’s the best thing to eat here? Should I go for the burger or the wings?”
That’s it — everything you need to get a conversation rolling.