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We often find ourselves in moments of awkward silence or those where we wish we could chat up someone. What holds us back is not knowing the right questions to ask without coming off as a creep or someone with bad intentions.
At Bright Side, we understand the need to be good at starting great conversations socially and to ward off any awkwardness that the wrong approach or questions may create. We have compiled a list of easy questions and ways you can start friendly conversations, and keep them going.
1. Discuss your surroundings.
This is a technique that’s useful in many situations. Simply use your senses to observe the environment you are in and a few basic visual clues about the person before striking up a conversation. Take cues from the place you are in or something that the person may be holding — like a book or a certain brand of coffee. Use that to start a conversation on the topic. It can be something like: “Hey! That’s a great book, Have you read XYZ by the same author?” or “I love the fries they serve at this restaurant. They’re the best!”
2. Help the person feel comfortable around you.
Express interest in where a person is from. This takes the focus away from you trying to strike up a conversation and makes it more about the other person. It helps them to think about their hometown, a parent, family, or a related event. Asking this question is a great and impersonal opener to a conversation. Plus, you get brownie points and more to talk about if you’re from the same place. There’s not a lot to worry about if you don’t have any idea about the place they’re from. You can just follow up with questions about the food and culture of that place. Both are generally considered safe and polite topics.
3. Be slow to ask personal questions.
Weather is always a safe subject and is often considered small talk, but the right small talk can lead to meaningful conversations later. Besides, small talk is the way to go when you’ve just met someone. Anything more personal can seem intrusive. Keep it light and simple especially if this is the first conversation. Open-ended questions are great to elicit a response from the other person.
4. Pay attention to the little things.
In a world where social media is probably the most unifying force, people long for genuine connections. This might be surprising, but it’s the small things that matter and it’s the little things that make a big difference. Asking people about things that are often overlooked and stir up good feelings in them is one way to do this. Example question : What’s the nicest thing that happened to you today? This question expresses a genuine interest in the other person’s life. It also spreads a general feeling of positive vibes and sets the tone for a pleasant and good natured conversation.
5. Use humor as a tool.
Humor is something that can seldom be ignored and no one can resist a good laugh. Humor connects people. If you’re blessed with a good sense of humor, make use of it by saying something funny, perhaps about the situation you and the other person are in, or about a common malady. Do be careful not to say anything crass or something that might be misconstrued as being said in bad taste.
6. Use current events and pop culture to stir interest.
Ask about something that recently went viral like a song, a movie, a dance move, or a food dish. Steer clear of politics… Most people establish a connection to things that happen in the world around them like a recent viral event or any newsworthy item.
7. Ask them for a small favor or for help.
Not many people are aware of this simple psychological trick but people love feeling important and no one can resist an easy good deed. Asking people for help or for a favor lets them know that they are in a position of dominance — even if it’s only for that second, and most people won’t refuse to help you out. This is also usually because the task involved should be pretty easy and effortless. For example, “Please pass me that book if you don’t mind?” or “May I borrow your pen for a second?”
How to keep the conversation going:
It’s not always easy to come up with something smart, funny, or interesting to start a conversation in any setting. In this case, just be yourself and be sincere. We often underestimate the power of pure and simple sincerity — it does go a long way. If you’ve been chatting with someone and would like to stay in touch with them even after the chat is over, ask if they feel the same way first, and then ask for a contact number or their social media handle. You never know where a chance meeting and conversation with someone may lead. They can often have pleasantly unexpected turns and turn into great stories later. So go ahead, break the awkwardness, and start something new.
What questions or ways do you know of to avoid awkwardness while chatting someone up? Please let us know in the comment section.
Preview photo credit Mr and Mrs Smith / Regency Enterprises