How To Start Meaningful Conversations

Have you ever been in a room where you didn’t know anybody and it seemed like

everyone knew everyone else? If you look close enough you’d probably notice that there

are a few people who may not know anybody else but are somehow making their way

around the room and socializing with a number of different people. The ability to start a meaningful conversation is a unique and valuable skill to have. The good news is that anybody can

learn and master this skill. The bad news is that most people believe that they can’t learn how to start a conversation effectively. Fortunately for you, you’re not one of those people. Even if you are, I’m going to give you some foolproof ways to successfully start a conversation. Whether you are in a networking meeting, café, or just walking down the street, people are everywhere and now it’s time to master how to meet them.

Before we get started, I’d like you to understand a few things. First, I have a lot of information on gaining social success so I’ll be breaking them down in a number of different articles. I suggest you Bookmark this site if you haven’t already because I have a lot more information on this topic. Second, I also suggest that after you read this you read my post called “Be a Presence in Any Room”. It will help become more confident and help you establish your presence whenever you are meeting new people. Third, remember that starting a conversation is just the beginning to becoming more socially active, a better networker, and a people driven leader. Conversation is the best way to connect and communicate with other people. So once you’ve mastered how to begin a conversation properly, you are well on your way to success.

The Right Note

Nothing is worse than a negative comment in a positive atmosphere. I like going to social gatherings, parties, and network events. These types of events are designed to bring people together usually to have a good time and interact. Even though that purpose should be clear to just about everyone in the room, there are usually a few people who don’t quite seem to understand that concept. They are the ones that will try to break the ice with a negative remark or a bad attempt to be funny. Whenever I meet someone and some of the first words out of their mouth are comments about the food, organizer/host(s), or anything else they don’t like, I think “man, where is this conversation going?” Then I quickly try to change the subject or plan my escape. Don’t be that person that people are running from! Try to start every conversation off in a positive note.

 

Most likely, the atmosphere you are in is a social and positive one, so try to match the mood of the room. Another advantage to starting a conversation off on a positive note is that it helps lift the mood of the other person you are talking to. If you are in a long line at the DMV, bank, or grocery store, all it takes is someone to say something that makes people smile and the entire mood of the people around them shifts.

The Journalist Approach

Many books have been written about the right way to network and meet people. I’m willing to bet just about all of them suggest that asking questions is the best way to start and keep a conversation going. I do agree with that but I’m going to take it a little farther than that. Asking questions in a conversation can be a good lead into a great discussion or it can end up being a boring interview. Journalists operate under one mandate, ‘ask the right questions’. Flinging questions at someone with the intention of starting a meaningful conversation is a disaster waiting to happen.

When you take the journalist approach, you increase your chances of engaging in a meaningful and memorable conversation. When you ask questions, make sure you allow the person you are talking to a chance to reveal more about themselves. Questions that have a yes, no, or I don’t know answers are a dead end road. In the beginning stages of a conversation, these types of questions will let you understand the person you are talking to better.

-Thoughts on the event or occasion.

-Opinions.

-Reasons for attending .

-Who they are associated with and how they are acquainted.

-Past experiences at similar places or events.

-What other interest do they have?

-Why are they interested in those types of activities?

The way a question is asked is just as important as what the question is. Lighthearted open ended questions that have the person mentally searching for an answer that is just as clever as the question was, can be the one thing that sets you apart from the other people that person will meet. Try to find interesting and unique ways to ask the same type of question.

Meet Me In The Middle

Conversations are pointless unless two people connect. Let’s say you call your credit card company to try to resolve an issue. You may be on the phone for 20 minutes with the operator but you wouldn’t consider that a conversation would you? Of course not and you shouldn’t. Meaningful conversations always involve a connection and connections usually involve common ground. The best way to connect with a new person is to find a common ground that you both share and meet there. The sooner you both find something that you have in common, the sooner you can start building a connection.

This practice is lost at networking meetings. Most people at networking meeting are more concerned about getting business cards out and not focused on the individuals that are being handed those same cards. The most effective networkers that I know are the ones who can connect quickly with a new person. Taking an interest in the other person and then finding a common ground is skill that can instantly initiate rapport.

Be Interesting

Ok so you’ve got your questions, you’ve got common ground, now what? The beginning of a conversation is the easiest time to end the conversation. This is because no real relationship potential has yet been established. People talk to other people in passing all the time and nothing comes of it. When you are starting a conversation in any situation, questions are not enough. In order for you to continue the conversation you must say something worth listening to. Most people will be eager to continue a conversation with you if you are funny, intelligent, or engaging enough to keep their interest. Would you stay in a conversation with someone if their reply to every statement you made was, “yup”? I hope not.

Being knowledgeable, witty, and charismatic is a big advantage when starting a conversation. But you don’t have to make them die laughing or be totally captivating in order to slam dunk a new conversation. But you have to have something interesting to say. I once started a conversation with a mortgage broker at a networking meeting. The conversation was going fine until I asked her opinion about the condition of the market.

“It’s bad man, it’s bad”, she said.

Is that all you have to say? I knew that since the real estate market was her specialty, and she had almost nothing to say about it, the conversation was going nowhere. That is the effect of not having anything interesting to plug into your conversations. One day an elderly man struck up a conversation with me at a park and he was a wealth of information, stories, and experiences.

Our conversation was a great exchange of thoughts and ideas. I enjoyed hearing what he had to say because he had interesting conversation topics. His ability to switch from one interesting topic to the next kept our conversation moving. Here are some things you can do to help you find more interesting topics to talk about.

Read, read, read. The more knowledge you have the more you can share.

Dailynews, weather, and sports. Most people talk about at least one of these topics every day. If you know about them, talk about them. But be sure to have something interesting to say about them. Don’t just report them. That’s what news anchors are for.

Take information with you. Take something you learned from one conversation to the next.

A joke a day. Find something that makes you laugh online, in a magazine, or on TV and share it with at least one time in your conversations (if you have the opportunity to work them in).

Starting a successful conversation is an art that is not hard to learn. Like most things in life conversations usually follow a pattern or formula. Start applying these techniques today and begin to see a difference in your social and professional life.

Talk to Strangers: How to Easily Start Conversations With Anyone >>

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  • JT

    Having good, confident conversations is one of the building blocks to becoming more outgoing–and in turn more confident in general.  I work with guys who have a hard time talking to women, and this is something they really struggle with.  I know you weren’t writing with that segment in mind, but the info you have is really interesting and I’m going to incorporate some of the principles in my daily work.  I’m starting a series of posts about becoming outgoing/confidence building on my blog at http://www.online-dating-mastery.com/?p=1692, and hope it will help people get out of the rut they find themselves in.  Thank you for the great information.  JT

  • http://chrisdaoanis.wordpress.com/ chrisdaoanis

    Wow. Thanks for these, Ralph.
    Great tips. I would like to master this skill and be of good value to other people.

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  • ralphjp

    Thank you!

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    I highly appreciate this article and web page. Well done!!!! Thank You!!

  • ralphjp

    And I appreciate your comment! Thanks You!

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    A good webpage, an interesting article a wise author.

  • ralphjp

    Thanks so much for your comment! Means a lot to me 🙂

  • Evelyn Wilson

    A good webpage, an interesting article a wise author.

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    I like it very resourceful hope to get more infos and updates…

  • ralphjp

    Thanks for the kind words! A lot more articles to come. I invite you to subscribe to the site and like us on Facebook so you can stay updated. Thanks again!

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