Things to say to make conversation

Things to say to make conversation: striking up a conversation is difficult. It might be difficult to know what to say to start a conversation and keep it flowing, whether you’re meeting a stranger, attempting to network, or on your first (or even tenth) date.

Introducing yourself to a stranger or approaching an acquaintance might be nerve-wracking, but it doesn’t have to be. “Getting on a highway in a car is considerably riskier than approaching someone at a party or a networking event,” says Debra Fine, author of the Fine Art of Small Talk. Fortunately, while certain people may be born with strong communication skills, all it takes is a little practice.

Here are some things to say to make conversation.

Things to say to make conversation

  1. Always keep in mind that there is no such thing as a “perfect line.”

People, according to Fine, are fixated on finding the “right line” to start a discussion. “There is no such thing as a perfect line,” Fine explains. “Be the first to greet me. They can’t do much worse than reject you.” They’ll probably appreciate it if you introduce yourself.

  1. Make the most of what you already know.

Are you at the same party as this individual? Perhaps you’re both attending a networking event for the same industry. Fine refers to such things as “free knowledge about the occasion or location,” and suggests that you utilize them to start a discussion.

If you’re both at the same party, you were likely invited by the same person, so you might inquire, “How do you know the host or hostess?”

  1. Do not inquire, “How are you?”

“How are you?” is a lazy way to start a conversation, according to Fine, but most people don’t know any better. If someone else inquires about your well-being, you can still convert the conversation into something engaging. Give the other person something to work with instead of just saying “good.” This might be anything: you could say you’ve been busy at work or that you’ll be returning home for the holidays. Simply keep it brief. “It’s only a sentence, not a story,” Fine argues.

  1. Instead, say something like, “Tell me about yourself.”

If you’re speaking with someone you’ve recently met, ask them about themselves. “Tell me about yourself,” Fine suggests. It’s an open-ended question that allows the person with whom you’re conversing to choose what they want to say. They can choose what information about themselves they want you to know, and the conversation will evolve from there.

  1. “Catch me up on your life since the last time I saw you,” asks number five.

This is an easy lead-in if you’re opening up a discussion with a buddy or acquaintance. Fine loves to ask this question since it doesn’t put people on the spot, especially if they’ve recently experienced a major transition. Nothing is more depressing than inquiring about someone’s work and learning that they’ve recently been laid off.

  1. Find out what keeps someone occupied.

“What do you do?” instead of “What do you do?” Fine prefers an approach that is more open-ended. “What keeps you busy?” She likes to inquire. “It’s just a much better approach to start a discussion,” she explains. Remember where you met this person: If it’s someone you know from work or school, inquire about their other interests. Unlike asking if someone is married or what they do for a living, an open-ended inquiry allows the other person to react in whatever way they like. 

  1. It’s fine to express your point of view, but give the other person a chance to do so as well.

We all have opinions, and they often lead to discussions. However, if you want to keep the conversation going, make sure the person you’re speaking with has a chance to express themselves as well. Fine says, “I’m very careful to say, ‘and what do you think about that?'” “It doesn’t hurt to ask for the other person’s opinion as long as you do so.” 

  1. Provide verbal cues

Nobody likes to feel like they’re conversing with a brick wall. One way to improve your conversational skills is to let others know you’re paying attention, says Fine, who suggests using verbal clues. Ask simple questions while someone is speaking to you so they know you’re listening and paying attention. What did you mean by that, exactly? What was the first thing that happened? And What occurred after that? I get what you mean. That must have been difficult.

  1. The importance of body language cannot be overstated.

If you appear friendly, you’ll have a better chance of striking up a conversation. “Even if you’re feeling serious or intimidated by stepping into a place where you don’t know anyone,” Fine advises, “try to put a grin on your face.” “Present yourself as friendly and make eye contact. If your eyes are down, you’re more likely to have someone approach you.” Throughout the chat, pay attention to your body language. If you have a habit of crossing your arms, Fine suggests wearing anything with pockets to prevent appearing closed off.

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