Electing to start conversations with strangers––or any stranger––can feel like a nerve wracking experience.Don't believe me? (I don't believe you.) Redditor ManwithaTan got the proverbial ball rolling when they asked the online community the following question:
What's the best way to start a conversation with a stranger?
There are ways, people! Like the following:
Leave an easy out. If you FORCE a conversation on a stranger, they will get uncomfortable. If you bring up something light, or in a way that allows them to give a simple polite answer and then move on without it continuing... it lets them choose to continue the conversation on their terms, lets them decide to chat, instead of you forcing it on them. Casual and light, don't stare them down, it's okay to show interest but don't be crazy overeager.Want to know more? Read on! CONVERSATIONS ARE EASY IF... YOU PICK UP A NEWSPAPER.
I fly a lot, and I've found that picking up a newspaper and doing the crossword with whoever is next to you works wonders.CONVERSATIONS ARE EASY IF... YOU KEEP IT NATURAL.
Start with something happening or visible around you. It feels natural to the situation, and seems like two strangers talking about something around them. Going with a generic conversation starter a propos of nothing makes you seem kinda weird; pointing to something and making a comment about it might draw them in a little more. Easy mode: when traveling, "Where you going?" Hard mode: "See that tall quiet guy with the dark shades? You think he's a spy, or a serial killer?"CONVERSATIONS ARE EASY IF... YOU FIND OUT WHAT YOU HAVE IN COMMON.
Its difficult just to walk up to someone and start a conversation, most people aren't open to that. But i find usually the most seamless way to start talking to a stranger is through complaining about a shared current event, i.e. professors late, the exam you're walking out of was too hard, long lines, etc.
CONVERSATIONS ARE EASY IF... YOU START A LIVELY DEBATE ON... SOMETHING OR OTHER.
It wasn't the first thing he said, but we were having an awkward date and he was like, "So, erotic clown party, am I right?" This led to a discussion on the correct definition. Is it strippers dressed as clowns? A party for erotic clowns? An erotic party clowns attend? If the first, are there specialist strippers who dress up as clowns or are they clowns that strip on the side? If the last, are there strippers who only cater to clowns? Do the clowns perform at the party, too? Yes, I'm still with him.CONVERSATIONS ARE EASY IF... YOU ACCEPT HOW WEIRD YOU (BOTH) ARE.
When I first met my husband and we were on our first date, things were super awkward. Then somehow he started talking about zombies which turned into a huge discussion on what the best way to decapitate one was. We got in this incredibly detailed conversation about decapitation and how much force was needed to do it then the best way to get rid of the body if it accidently wasn't a zombie and was. A real person... Then we must have both realized that we wete talking about detsiled ways to get rid of a body, and we were on a first date and could each very well be psychopaths without the other knowing. Coffee date moved into lunch date, which then turned into us wandering around the city talking and roding elevators. Neither of us were serial killers and we are going on 7 years of marriage. Sometimes weird is best for an ice breaker.
CONVERSATIONS ARE EASY IF... YOU LAUNCH A PROJECTILE.
Toss them a frisbee. Of course, only try this if you're both in a public park and NOT in a department store, airport, hospital, dentist's office, pathology lab, traffic jam, phrenology clinic, deposition, AA meeting, state legislature, church service, opium den, boot camp, organic chemistry class, funeral, grocery store, ad agency, inauguration, fox hunt, planning commission meeting, intervention, pilot check ride, board meeting, supervised study session, purge, job interview, immigration and naturalization interrogation, Academy Awards™ ceremony, or surgical procedure, in which case other conversational openings might be more relevant, appropriate, and successful. I hope this information is helpful.CONVERSATIONS ARE EASY IF... YOU LOOK FOR THE ROOT OF THE EXCHANGE.
Humans are remarkably indirect creatures. When we communicate with one another, we each have our own internal desires and motivations, meaning that a question as seemingly mundane as "What did you do this weekend?" might actually be a precursor to a murder confession. As such, while it's important to take people at their word (and their words at face value), you'll come across as being attentive and engaging if you learn to recognize what your conversational partner hopes to achieve, then help to guide the dialogue in that direction.CONVERSATIONS ARE EASY IF... YOU WATCH YOUR BODY LANGUAGE.EXAMPLE: "Hey, I still have to take you out for lunch sometime, don't I?" BAD RESPONSE: "No, you don't owe me anything." BETTER RESPONSE: "Sure, but I'd rather split the bill." GOOD RESPONSE: "You don't need to treat me to it, but I'd love your company!"
Body language, tone of voice, and the apparent thoughtfulness of responses all play enormous roles in how people perceive one another. A person who comes across as being warm, positive, and understanding will typically seem more charismatic than folks who describe themselves as "bluntly honest." This doesn't mean that you should lie or hide your personal opinions, though, but rather that you should be consciously aware of how you communicate, and work to foster a comfortable atmosphere.CONVERSATIONS ARE EASY IF... YOU DON'T DO THIS. (SERIOUSLY. DON'T DO THIS.)EXAMPLE: "What do you think of my makeup today?" BAD RESPONSE: "You look like a banshee that got trapped in a burning tire factory." BETTER RESPONSE: "I can tell that you worked hard on it!" GOOD RESPONSE: "Your natural beauty is what makes it really stand out."
According to the internet; sending them a dick pic.
CONVERSATIONS ARE EASY IF... YOU KNOW WHAT YOU WANT FROM THE CONVERSATION.
This means the effing conversation, not your ultimate life goals. There's a cool moment in the movie Arrival that encapsulates this: the Army wants to know why the aliens are here. The linguist asks "does the target know what a question is? What the word 'what' means? Personal versus collective you? Current mission why versus ultimate objective why?" If you don't know what you want, or think the conversation can provide more than it really can, you're going to cock it up. For the rest of this post, let's presume "chat up a potential romantic partner," since nobody asks how to start conversations with a strange copper with a really shiny badge in order to debate the weather.CONVERSATIONS ARE EASY IF... YOU ARE PREPARED TO DELIVER A GENUINE COMPLIMENT.
The "you're so beautiful, I just had to say something" only works in two cases: when the target looks like they need the compliment, and you don't want anything further; and, you yourself are attractive, and someone other than you or your parents has told you so. Clothing, hair style, and choice of book are the three non-creeper go tos.CONVERSATIONS ARE EASY IF... YOU ASK A QUESTION. (AND LISTEN TO THE ANSWER.)
Rules of good questions: encourages narrative answers (not yes/no); you give a shit about the answer (moving from a question straight to a sales pitch is doom); it's possible to ask a follow-up (I'd avoid favorite color as a first question, since it has a simple answer and many people can't answer why). Eyes and ears can listen. Also, your conversation partner is a human being. That fact will always be their priority until they no longer think of you as a stranger; if you focus on their status as a potential sex toy/status of their immortal soul/status of their bank account, you will look and sound like Buffalo Bill because at that moment, that's what you are. A person who is reading a book and looking at it is trying to avoid conversation. Do not start your conversation-starting practice with unwilling targets. Eye contact: snaps and slides. Snaps are generally benign with one big exception. Slides are generally bad with one big exception. When a person looks away quickly, this is usually an attempt to avoid staring, which is either polite or an attempt to conceal interest. Either thing is fine. But if they're making a crazy face, that's the horror snap, which means you should wrap it up. Then figure out if there's a mouse on your forehead or something. When a person's eyes slide off yours slowly, then off to the side, this is often boredom or irritation. Wrap it up. The only exception is Bashful slide--if they slowly look away, then slowly look back, usually while smiling. This is basically them wanting to continue staring at you while obeying social rules. If these distinctions seem hard to parse, you may be a little Aspie, which is okay. But have a friend help you memorize the differences before moving forward. If they tell you they're done, wrap it up. Dragging out a voluntary exchange does not establish dominance or score you victory points. It just makes you an ass.H/T: Ask Reddit