December 06 2021 – Edinburgh School of English
It sounds easy but even when it’s your native language, starting a conversation with a stranger can be intimidating. Some situations will be easier than others but you can use these ideas to help you make initial contact with confidence.
- Small talk – sometimes considered fake or a waste of time, small talk is actually a useful tool for making initial contact with complete strangers. Mention the weather or comment on the situation to open a conversation which could develop into something deeper.
- Questions – open questions will usually elicit a better response than closed ones unless the other person is particularly chatty. Ask a broad question about any topic or maybe for an opinion on something which could lead to an interesting conversation on the topic.
- Compliments – if you can sincerely compliment someone then it’s a very positive way to open a conversation but be aware that the person you’re talking to will probably be able to tell if you aren’t being genuine.
- Confidence – even if you don’t feel very sure, act confidently as you make the first step. Don’t over think your strategy, just go for it and see what happens. As long as you are friendly the other person is likely to respond in the same way.
- Help – offering to help someone is a great conversation starter, or even asking for help yourself. You could look up the information on your phone but if there’s someone around try asking them as a way of opening contact.
- Responses – after making the first move to start the conversation make sure you respond openly to encourage the other person to do the same. Give personal examples or tell little anecdotes so the other person can respond in kind.
Remember that the people around you are mostly just as keen to start talking as you are and probably have similar fears about starting a conversation. Once you start it’s likely they’ll respond well and you will not only have a good chat but possibly develop a friendship or make a useful contact.