First impressions are incredibly important. Whether in your personal or professional life, the first conversation you have with someone is important, and engaging in interesting conversation with someone you have never met or do not know very well can enhance encounters that may otherwise be awkward and boring.
So here are my top 10 conversations starters that avoid all the boring and superficial small talk clichés and that can lead to conversations that can be the first step in long lasting personal and professional relationships.
1. “Tell Me About What You Have Done Today.”
While “Hello” and “How are you?” are sometimes compulsory formalities in conversation making, starting conversations with something so clichéd can be boring and can easily lead to a series of one word answers. Asking someone about what they have done with their day often leads to more interesting and varied dialogue than the typical icebreakers and such a question shows that you have a genuine interest in what the other person has been up to.
2. “Your shoes look lovely!”
Paying someone a compliment is another classic conversation starter, as people are almost always likely to respond positively to a compliment. It can also open up opportunities for further dialogue if the person you are conversing with returns the compliment or can even lead to further discussion about where the shoes in question were purchased.
3. “I wonder how long this good weather will continue for?”
Starting a conversation by discussing the weather, especially in Britain, seems clichéd, but the truth is when the weather is eventful and as sporadic as it is here, it can at times make for a genuinely interesting topic of conversation.
4. “Have you heard about…?”
Discussing something in the news or a current event that is funny, interesting or entertaining is an excellent way of sparking conversation. The London Olympics and how it got the normally insular London public chatting to each other on buses and tubes is a great example of how newsworthy stories make for great conversation starters. Try and pick a story or event that someone is likely to have a strong opinion on, which can really open up a conversation to some interesting dialogue.
5. “What does your name mean?”
An infinitely more interesting conversation starter than “What is your name?” Not only does such an unorthodox conversation starter throw people off in a good way, but it is an excellent way to open up dialogue towards more interesting topics such as a person’s heritage, background and family history.
6. “Have you travelled anywhere interesting recently/have plans to?”
Going travelling is the kind of activity that is tailor made for giving us great stories once we return, and as such people will always be more than happy to discuss their travels with anyone who offers to listen. If they haven’t been anywhere, then an alternative path of discussion could be any travel plans that a person has for the future or dream travel destinations.
7. “Tell me about where you grew up”
This is another great conversation starter because it leaves room for open-ended conversation and further questions, rather than a bland one word answer. It also is another great ice breaker that provides an opportunity for interesting dialogue about a person’s background, childhood or their personal story.
8. “Does this place remind you of anywhere?”
This is another unorthodox conversation starter that is likely to grab people’s attention. The icebreaker has the advantage of being two pronged – on the one hand it is a great way to encourage conversation about the intricacies and peculiarities of the venue you are both currently at, and it can also provide an opportunity for conversation about any interesting places you have visited in the past.
9. “Is the queue in this place always this long?”
Commenting on a particular peculiarity about the place or situation you are both experiencing, or even an unfortunate experience you have both found yourself in can actually be an excellent conversation starter. Human beings tend to bond over sharing experiences that are negative and bizarre and in these situations, engaging in some good conversation can make an adverse experience more bearable.
10. “Have you done anything interesting recently at the weekend?”
This is a very similar question to the travelling icebreaker and encourages people to engage in conversation related to some of their more interesting recent life experiences. It is also a great way to engage in conversation with people about their hobbies and personal interests.
Originally featured in POPxo