How to Start a Conversation the Right Way

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How To Start A Conversation: (55+ Examples For Every Situation + Tips)

Few situations increase anxiety more than starting a conversation, especially wtih someone new. But we also know that conversation is the foundation for building and maintaing connections with the people around us.

Some situations don’t fit into a work or dating context, making it tough to decide what conversation starter to use. Imagine being on a long plane ride next to a stranger or going out to lunch with an acquaintance. That’s what these general conversation starters are for.

What’s Your Story? This question leads to an answer that gives you a better idea of who a person is. The topics they choose to focus on say a lot about them, and it’s easy to find more dialogue to branch off this conversation starter.

Do You Have A Favorite TV Show Or Movie? This question is similar to asking about a person’s favorite book and can be used interchangeably to engage in dialogue. Choose whichever topic you enjoy speaking about more.

What Was The Best Part Of Your Week? Positive conversation makes people want to keep it going. Speaking about the best things that happened in a given week is an enjoyable and recent topic to discuss. That makes this question a great conversation starter.

Good Conversation Starters for Work

What’s Your Favorite Thing About Working In ______? Everyone has their own motivations for why they went into their professional field. Discussing it can be an interesting conversation in the workplace. It can also bring up commonalities between you and your co-worker’s passions.

What Do You Like About Working Here? This question seeks clarity into what your co-workers enjoy working at your company. It can spark a productive back and forth about what your team does well and where you can improve.

Have You Heard About ___ On The News? The ulterior purpose of the nightly news is to give professionals topics to use as conversation starters. Just make sure the story you choose to discuss isn’t too controversial or inappropriate.

Are You Looking Forward To (The Nearest Holiday)? While this question can be a little tricky because you don’t want to impose religious beliefs on your co-workers, it can help you get to know them better.

Can I Ask You For Some Advice? The purpose of working with a team of colleagues is to turn to each other for help and guidance. Asking someone for advice on something related to your job can lead to a more secure and productive professional relationship.

Conversation Killers

While political commentary, gossip, complaints, and offensive jokes might be how your uncle starts conversations during your family get-togethers, it is probably not an example you should try to emulate in your day-to-day life.

Some research suggests that when it comes to conversation openers, your best bet may be to stick to comments that are fairly innocuous. In one study, participants were asked to rate the effectiveness of a number of opening lines that might come from a potential romantic partner: flippant “pick-up” lines, open-ended, innocuous questions, and the direct approach.  

Few respondents appreciated the pick-up line approach, but responses tended to be split when it came to preferences for the other two opening styles. Women tended to prefer the innocuous questions (“What’s your favorite team?”) while men favored the more direct approach (“I’d like to buy you a drink!”).

The authors of the study suggest that it is best to err on the side of the innocuous approach when choosing a way to initiate a conversation with a stranger. This type of conversation opener tends to be less threatening, yet encourages the other person to provide some type of response.

Start Simple

Commenting on the weather, the room, or the food might seem cliche, but there is a reason why this sort of icebreaker works so well. It’s a simple, easy way to get a conversation rolling, offering a bit of common ground between two strangers. Talking about inconsequential things can lead to further conversations about personal preferences, backgrounds, hobbies, and deeper topics that can help forge social bonds between people.

What the Research Says

What they found is that people who engaged in deeper, personal conversations also had higher levels of happiness. This might mean that happy people are more likely to engage others in meaningful conversations—but it also might mean that such substantive conversations may actually lead to greater happiness. The researchers suggest that “the findings demonstrate that the happy life is social rather than solitary and conversationally deep rather than superficial.”

How to Start a Good Conversation

This article was co-authored by Lynda Jean. Lynda Jean is an Image Consultant and the Owner of Lynda Jean Image Consulting. With over 15 years of experience, Lynda specializes in color and body/style analysis, wardrobe audits, personal shopping, social and professional etiquette, and personal and business branding. She works with clients to enhance their image, self-esteem, behavior, and communication to facilitate their social and career goals. Lynda holds Bachelor degrees in Sociology and Social Work, a Master’s degree in Clinical Social Work, and a Certified Image Consultant (CIC) certification. She studied Image Consulting at the International Image Institute and the International Academy of Fashion and Technology in Toronto, Canada. Lynda has taught Image Consulting courses at George Brown College in Toronto, Canada. She is the co-author of the book, “Business Success With Ease,” where she shares her knowledge about, ‘The Power of Professional Etiquette.’

Starting a conversation with someone is probably one of the hardest parts of communication. You may find that you can talk to some people instantly, while talking to others is like pulling teeth. But don’t worry — there are a few universal tricks that will help you start a good conversation with almost anyone, and a few tips for starting conversations with specific people, like your crush. If you want to know how to start a good conversation, just follow these steps.

Learning Some Conversation Skills

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Make them feel like you care. You can turn a total stranger into a friend just by making them feel like you care about what they have to say and that their opinion matters to you. If the person thinks you’re talking just to hear your own voice, they’ll be turned off immediately. Instead, turn your body and focus toward that person and maintain eye contact without being too intense. Give the person enough personal space, but show that the person has your attention. [1] X Research source [2] X Expert Source

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  • Keep it positive. Don’t be self-deprecating or complain right away; open with a positive remark, like talking about how great your local sports team is doing (if you think that person likes sports) or how much you love the bar or restaurant where you find yourself.
  • Talk about your neighborhood. People take pride in where they live and the things they love to do in that area, so if you live in the same hood, you can bond over how great it is. Then you can get more personal and talk about places where you used to live.
  • Ask the person what they like to do for fun. Maybe you’ll find that you have some of the same interests.
  • Don’t talk so much about yourself. Make sure you’re talking about each other equally. You should walk away with some new information about that person.
  • If you have mutual friends, ask that person how they know your mutual friend. You could get into some funny stories about a person you both know.

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  • Ask your coworker about his family. Everyone loves talking about their family, so just casually ask how the person’s family is doing. Your coworker will be whipping out photos and giving you more information than you want to hear in a second.
  • Talk about what you’re going to do with your weekends. If you work together, then you both look forward to getting out at work on Friday and doing something fun or relaxing over the weekend. Your coworker will be happy about sharing his plans if you don’t pry too much.
  • Bond over a mutual complaint. Mention the traffic, broken copier, or lack of creamer in the kitchen, and you both can shake your heads together as you jump into a more lively conversation.
  • Don’t talk about work too much. Unless you’re starting a conversation with a coworker because you have a work-related question, work on showing your human side and talking about your friends, families, and interests instead of your projects or reports. Find a human connection that you can make outside of working.

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