Dialogue in society may have been eroded with the advent of messaging apps and virtual interactions. However, the fact that no form of communication is as direct and hassle-free as verbal intercourse, is unquestionable.
Conversation starters are many and varied. There will be hundreds and millions of ways you can initiate discourse with another person. However, this list features the easiest and most popular ones. So if you’re ready to start understanding the nuances of sparking up a conversation, here we go….
Humour is an infallible ice-breaker. It can alleviate the gloom of a boring meeting, and destress even the most tense faux pas. But humour is like gourmet food; while everyone may enjoy it, only a few are good at producing or creating humourous material. The good news is, however, that the potential jokes you can crack while at a social gathering or party are innumerable. But as we pertain to the lowest common denominator, why not use these for starters:
“Is it legal for a man to marry his widow’s sister?”
“Why do we need a driver’s licence to buy liquor?”
“Did Tim Cook win Season One or Three, of Masterchef Australia?”
9. Bait people in the vicinity
Jason Bourne (I think) once said that when you’re facing a challenge, your surroundings are your biggest strength. While I do not wish to imply that you roll up your sleeves and use the dinner plates as discs to throw around as in the Tron movies, you can harness the presence of people who already know as fuel for potential conversation. For example, when you’re near the interesting-looking man in the blue tux, you could ask him, “Mrs. Vohra sure can host a party, don’t you think?” and then, “Just curious to know, how do you know her?”
8. Current affairs
Living in a world that hurtles so rapidly towards progress, requires us to be on our toes, updated on all the prominent trends and knowledgeable of all the major events occurring both in India and around the world. Anyone who does not follow the news is either one who lives under a rock in a primitive Stone Age, or one who has denounced the world and given it up as a bad job. Either of such individuals are not going to be sparkling conversationists. So we need not worry about talking to them. But if you wish to start a conversation with the eminent lady friend of your host, you can very well begin with, “How much hotter does it have to be before the ‘fake news’ kills us all?”
Everyone likes a complement. You don’t? Well, you’re lying.
A common misconception that most people labour under is that only women love to be complemented. It’s almost the contrary. Males are just as easily lured into opening up to strangers when flattered, as females are. So junk all your trashy reservations , walk straight up to the suave young man near the coffee table, and tell him, “That’s a great haircut you’re rocking! Where can I get one like that?”
People bond over food faster and better than over anything else. While in the process of satisfying their taste buds and quietening their hunger, they’re in the perfect condition to be opened up. They’re warmer, more comfortable and less reserved. And the smartest of the lot won’t simply begin conversation on any random topic that doesn’t tune in with the psych of the individual at that time and place. Instead they will try and use the promise in that situation. They will approach the person and say, “This baked Alaska is heavenly, don’t you think? It takes hours to make, from what I’ve heard….”
5. Random questions
“What are your goals?”
“Which is your favourite video on social media?”
“What is your latest guilty pleasure?”
The above are great examples of random questions which you can ask the kid your age sitting silently next to you for the past hour. They’re easy to answer, playfully innocent and a tad different from, “Where are you from?” or “Whom have you come with?”
My name is Ardehl. I daresay it’s not a very convenient name for an Indian. And almost every conversation I had with an adult when I was a (very shy) child had to begin with my name. They’d take the obvious first step by asking me what my name was. I’d then respond with the answer. They’d then ask again. I’d then respond again. They’d ask me to spell it. I would. They’d ask me what it meant. I’d tell them. Fifteen minutes later, we’re talking about which dialect my name could possibly have been picked from.
You would have got my point, however. It really doesn’t matter what the name is. You can find any name interesting enough to use it to probe into a person.
3. Pop culture
Young adults are mired in this perpetual struggle to fit in with the contemporary crowd, to be in the know about all things trendy (and at the same time, stand out as unique, special individuals with mature tastes and better interests). They would detest being ignorant of the newest song, the freshest Hollywood gossip, or the latest of news banalities. So why not use it to communicate with them?
Come to think if it, even older people want be in the know of things. Parents, especially, to be in the same league as their kids, have taken to watching cult movies, listening to contemporary music and reading modern urban literature.
These make for ideal conversation starters. Next time you’re at a boring get together, be sure to approach the teen and enquire what he thought of Kendrick Lama’s latest album.
2. Carry an object
Now this suggestion may be the quirkiest of the lot. But I hope to convince you that it is one of the most effective, if done well. The technique involves you choosing for yourself amongst all the different knick-knacks you possess, one unique, priceless object that you feel means the most to you, or is the best one you can use to present yourself to another person. Being a numismatist, I carry three of my most precious coins in my wallet, and love to regale people about it.
After you’re done with banal pleasantries, just lean in close to that person, and say, “May I show you something interesting?”
It always works.
1. Pick up lines
I’ve kept the riskiest for the last. Now these are meant for both, the young and the old, but please use them with restraint lest you should leave your yourself (and your target customer) red in the face. Here are the best of ’em:
“Well, here I am. What are your other two wishes?”
“Do you believe in love at first sight – or should I walk by again?”
“If you were a chicken, you’d be impeccable.”
“You’re so charming you made me forget my pick up line.”