If you find it tough to know what to say to someone you really want to talk with, then you'll be happy to know that most of us started off rather socially awkward and were able to improve – so can you.
It happens often, we meet someone at a party, in passing at the grocery store, on a social outing, out on a date or just in our place of work or school – and we become paralyzed.
You want to strike up a conversation, but what can you say that won't look like you are trying too hard?
What if they don't find you interesting, first impressions are significant?
How do you break into a conversation when you walk up into a group – I have to admit this is the most difficult for me. Knowing both how to get the timing right AND how to inject yourself into a larger group takes some guts and know-how.
Yet, we must.
Without knowing how to break the ice and start a conversation, we cannot hope to meet the people that will be important in our future. We become self conscious and our self esteem takes a beating.
What if we had some common conversation starters that helped with confidence building when we meet someone new we want to talk with?
So let's look at 6 conversational ice breakers we have found to make starting a conversation with a stranger or someone you don't know very well.
1. "Did You Hear (Or See) That…"
The key here is to pull something from the news, current events or even have a few recent 'amazing' stories in your back pocket in order to have content for this type of opening ice breaker. As humans we are naturally curious and love to hear interesting stories…by sharing something of recent news we avoid having to create an interesting ice breaker ourselves and instead rely on what is making news.
2. "What Are You Working On " (obviously for work situations) or "How Many Times Have You Been Here Before?" (social situations)
The key to these ice breakers is to show genuine interest, make sure you really want to know more about what they are doing or perhaps their social interests in terms of how often they visit this place (bar, movie theater, store, etc…)
3. "Where Did You Get That…"
In this case you want to use your observational power to recognize something interesting about the other person…their clothes, their car, a book, coffee, their luggage, etc… People love to talk about themselves, so find something (nearly anything) and get them talking to break the ice.
4. "Have You Been To…"
With this conversation starter, you want to come prepared with some common places that you have been thinking about going, but perhaps have never been. For example, "have you ever been Club Z?" or "Have you ever tried coffee from Coffee Shop Y?" Again, the idea is that you are genuinely interested in their feedback. Even if they have not, it gives you an opening to continue the conversation by saying something like "I haven't either, but I was talking to a friend last week that said…"
5. "What Do You Like To Do Outside of Work"
I really like this one for either social or work situations, you often come across as exceptionally friendly when you ask about non-work related things. This is also a great conversation starter because it is "open-ended" meaning that they cannot give a "yes" or "no" answer, but must respond with more information that you can then use to keep the conversation going.
6. "The Craziest Thing Just Happened To Me…Has Anything Like This Ever Happened To You?"
Again, with this one, you want to have a list of interesting or strange things in mind before starting your conversation. Maybe someone said something strange or you observed an odd occurrence that you can share, then make sure to ask them the open-ended question that will get them talking about the same or similar situations they have observed. This is both interesting and a great ice breaker.
We all know that the first few minutes of a conversation are the hardest, so in order to get things rolling and make a good first impression go ahead and practice these ice breakers. Practice them in front of a mirror or even video tape yourself. If you can, have a friend represent the stranger so you can practice with real people in front of you.
Once you learn the power of these conversation ice breakers you will be amazed at how awkward it USED to feel starting conversations and meeting people.
Do you have a way you found works to start a conversation or to meet someone new when you are nervous? Leave a comment.