Photo of John Green
How to start a conversation with anybody

How to Start a Conversation With Anybody

How to start a conversation with anybody

I remember a conversation with one of the smartest college professors I’ve ever had…

He’d started multiple successful businesses, advised several small countries on their finances and investments, and did a whole host of other things.

“I might not have ever done any of this,” he said, “if it wasn’t for one simple conversation on the train in Vienna, Austria when I was 27 years old.”

“One simple and random conversation that day led to the opportunity that opened the doors for everything else. And my life has never been the same.”

“Never underestimate the ability to connect with people and simply start a conversation,” he continued. “It may just open doors for you that you never knew existed.”

At any given moment, you could be one conversation away from changing your life, your business, and your future.

You never know what person or connection could take you to that next level, or perhaps even lead to the next big sale. It could be that one person at a networking event, that businessman in a cafe, or really anyone.

But here’s the thing: If you don’t know how to start a conversation easily, then you might not ever meet those people. And you might just lose out on those life-changing opportunities.

So today, we’ll give you the tools to help you start a conversation with absolutely anyone…

Have a Few Conversation Starters in Your Arsenal

It’s good to have a few conversation starters in your back pocket in case you freeze up and don’t know what to say.

Here are a few options you can use to get things going. They make it easy to bridge the conversation.

  • The simple introduction – “Hey, I’m Tom. How’s it going?” or “I wanted to introduce myself.”
  • The situational starter – Here, you just pick out something from the situation and comment on it. For example, if you’re at a networking event, you can say something as simple as “Pretty amazing turnout at this event” or if you’re somewhere watching a game you might say, “I’m surprised this is such a blowout!”
  • Ask a help question – Are you wondering where the nearest subway is? If there’s a coffee shop around? What time an event ends? Where they got that cool backpack? Asking something that a person can answer, or help with, is often an easy way to open up a conversation, or to establish a comfort level that fosters interaction.
  • Ask an opinion about something you see – “How is that wine you ordered?” “What did you think of that art exhibit?” “I see you have the new Samsung. Do you like it?” Opinions are great questions to ask, as they have a topic with shared interest built-in.

Ask Open-Ended Questions

Open-ended questions require more than a yes or no response. They break people out of autopilot and help you get to know them on a deeper level.

For example, instead of asking, “Do you like being a lawyer?” you could ask, “What do you like about being a lawyer?” or “What made you want to get into law?”

These will open the door for the other person to talk more about themselves, and the more they talk about themselves, the more connected they’ll feel to you.

Listen and Relate Back

Open-ended questions can be powerful, but you shouldn’t hammer people with open-ended question after open-ended question.

Good conversation is give and take.

So listen carefully to their answers, and relate back where you can with stories from your own life, or any other observations you have.

This is much more powerful than simply waiting for the other person to finish talking so you can get to your point (which is what many people do).

Cultivate a Curiosity About the World

There’s something you can learn from every conversation. And so, you should cultivate a genuine curiosity about the world and the people in it.

A fun exercise to build this curiosity is to aim to learn something from every person you talk to. Instead of just conversing for the sake of it… you can aim to gain a new perspective, hear about a new experience, learn a new fact.

With this goal in mind you’ll learn to ask better questions, you’ll appear (genuinely) more interested, and you’ll find your conversations take off.

Good Eye Contact & Approachable Smile

In a face-to-face conversation, your face plays as much of a role as your words.

When you make eye contact during conversations, it conveys that you’re genuinely listening and also that you’re in the moment.

People will feel that you’re present and actually there in the conversation, instead of off in your own little world. This will gain more of their trust and allow you to further connect with them.

If you’re uncomfortable with this, try looking at the bridge of their nose. This will help you gradually overcome your discomfort with strong eye contact.

And of course, a light approachable smile makes people feel comfortable with you, and adds warmth to any conversation.

Wrapping Up How to Start a Conversation With Anybody…

One conversation can change everything. But that’s only if you can start it, and keep it going the right way. Luckily, you now have the tools you need to do that.

So get out there, start conversations, and start connecting with more people! Whether you’re at a networking event in New York City, or a train in Vienna, Austria, don’t underestimate the power of a single conversation.

Has a conversation ever changed your life? How so? Let us know in the comments below!