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11 Foolproof Ways to Start a Conversation With Absolutely Anyone

Simply introduce yourself

Walk up to the person, stick out your hand and say, "Hi, I'm so-and-so. I just wanted to introduce myself." 

The fact that you went out of your way to meet will make the listener feel important. It will probably make the person want to talk to you, as well.

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11 Foolproof Ways to Start a Conversation With Absolutely Anyone

11 Foolproof Ways to Start a Conversation With Absolutely Anyone

https://www.inc.com/minda-zetlin/10-foolproof-ways-to-start-a-conversation-with-absolutely-anyone.html

inc.com

11

Key Ideas

Make note of something pleasant

"This dip is delicious!" "Nice turnout for this event!"

There's something positive to say in nearly every situation, so find it and say it. Don't say something negative because it's much too risky.

Comment on the weather

The one exception to the no-negatives rule is the weather. 

If you're in the midst of a heat wave, cold snap, or torrential downpour, remarking on the unusual weather is often a good way to start a conversation.

Ask for information

"Excuse me, do you know what time the next session starts?" 

Even if you already know the answer, asking for information can be a great way to start someone talking with you, because everyone likes to feel helpful.

Ask for assistance

"Could you reach that item on the top shelf for me?" 

Requests for assistance are another way to make someone feel helpful. Just make sure whatever you ask for is something the listener can provide without much inconvenience.

Offer assistance

"Can I help you carry that large box?" 

The listener will be inclined to like you and trust you because you've helped out. Be careful not to be intrusive or excessive.

Solicit an opinion

"What did you think of that speech?" "Did you get a lot out of this workshop?" 

Most people like knowing that others are interested in their opinions and will be happy to respond.

Mention a mutual acquaintance

Naming someone you both know will tell the listener you are part of his or her extended social circle. 

Many people will begin thinking of you as someone they know or should know. Be careful, though, that their relationship with your shared acquaintance is on good terms.

Bring up a shared experience

Does the listener come from the same town or region like you? Did you attend the same high school or college? 

Any common ground is a good way to start someone talking, especially if you use it as a reason to ask for information or advice.

Praise the listener

This works when you're wondering what to say to someone prominent. You'll never insult someone by saying, "I really love your work," or "I thought your last blog post was very insightful."

Three caveats: Don't fawn, don't make the mistake of critiquing the listener and only offer praise if you genuinely mean it.

Compliment the listener's apparel or accessories

"That scarf is a great color on you." Most people like it when others appreciate their taste, so they will likely want to engage with you.

Don't comment on the listener's own physical appearance - it has the potential to be creepy.

Simply introduce yourself

Walk up to the person, stick out your hand and say, "Hi, I'm so-and-so. I just wanted to introduce myself." 

The fact that you went out of your way to meet will make the listener feel important. It will probably make the person want to talk to you, as well.

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Step #5: Exits
Step #5: Exits

Use bookmarks to end well. Examples:

  • Future Mentions: “Well, I can’t wait to see you at that ___ coming up—I’ll email you!
  • Inside Jokes: “It was g...
Step #4: Evaluate Your Conversational Performance

After an event ask yourself what went well, what did you learn and who should you follow-up with so you can keep learning and honing your ability. 

This can help you identify patterns and remember to follow up on bookmarks, LinkedIn connections and promises.

Step #3: Bookmarking

Use the ‘Bookmarking’ technique to create a deeper connection by adding verbal markers or emphasis to parts of the conversation:

  • Future Mentions: saying something that will require follow up on later.
  • Inside Jokes: making jokes that refer to something interesting or funny you and the listener was involved in.
  • Same Same: exclaiming how crazy it is you have something in common and talking about it.
  • You Have to See: saying that you will share something they are interested in with them later.

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Find common ground

After having introduced yourself, you should find something in common that connects you right away. 

It opens the door to more conversation--and keeping words up is key when you f...

Move on to deeper topics
Although focusing on shallow topics to start--such as the weather or sports or your favorite new film--makes breaking the ice easier, your goal should be to move on to deeper topics as you gain familiarity with the other person.
It takes one joke

... an anecdote, or a well-timed story in order to show other people that you understand them. 

Perhaps it's a connection about a mutual friend at work or a common breakfast spot you shared growing up. It's the one spark that ends up transforming the interaction from being acquaintance-like to a true friendship.

An icebreaker that works

The only icebreaker question that'll work every single time: Tell me about yourself.

It is more effective than "So what do you do?" Posing a broad question lets people lea...

Stay curious and engaged

After the initial breaking, you have to really listen to how the other person responds. What are they excited about? Ask them more questions about that.

Pay attention to body language. You will be able to tell if someone is losing interest, for instance, eyes wandering, crossing arms or turning away from you.

Exit gracefully

Not every conversation will be a big hit. You will run out of things to say. Be honest. Say you've got to go to the bathroom or say hi to your other friend. Then go.

Even though it might feel rude, remember that it will free up time to start another potentially interesting conversation with someone else.

Turn Small Talk Into Intriguing Talk
Turn Small Talk Into Intriguing Talk
  • Twist a “light topic” with a serious tone: use what you already know to ask more personal questions or go deeper into topics.
  • Play it straight: admit that you don’t like ...
Superiority and entitlement

The world of the narcissist is all about good/bad, superior/inferior, and right/wrong. There is a definite hierarchy, with the narcissist at the top—which is the only place he feels safe. 

Exaggerated need for attention

Narcissists need constant attention—even following you around the house or constantly saying something to grab your attention. 

Despite all their self-absorbed, grandiose bragging, narcissists are actually very insecure and fearful of not measuring up. They constantly try to elicit praise and approval from others to shore up their fragile egos, but no matter how much they've received, they always want more.

Perfectionism

Narcissists believe they should be perfect, you should be perfect, events should happen exactly as expected, and life should play out precisely as they envision it. 

The demand for unattainable perfection leads the narcissist to complain and be constantly dissatisfied.

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Popularity of Ted talks
Popularity of Ted talks

TED talks are watched by more than two million times every day. They have become the standard in public speaking and presentation skills.

So probably your next public sp...

Passion leads to mastery

And mastery is the foundation of an extraordinary presentation. So express an enthusiastic, passionate, and meaningful connection to the topic you are presenting in your public speech.

You cannot be an inspiration to your peers if you are inspired yourself.

Tell stories through your presentation

Stories connect us. Stories stimulate and engage the human brain.

Stories help the speaker connect with the audience and make the audience more agreeable with the speaker's point of view.

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Take a Shower

Anecdotal evidence links shower to creativity.

So maybe when the status quo response to some circumstance just isn’t working, try taking a shower.

Study Another Industry

Pick some media from different industries. You may find that other industries have problems similar to yours but maybe they were solved in a different way.

You may also find new linkages between your own industry and another, linkages that may lead to innovative partnerships in the future.

Learn About Other Religions

Religions are a way for us to understand our relationships with the supernatural and with each other. Learning how such relations are structured can teach you a lot about how people relate to each other and the world around them.

Seeing the reason in other religions can also help you develop mental flexibility.

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No One Listens Anymore
No One Listens Anymore

Most of us have encountered people around us, friends, family or colleagues, who aren't the best of listeners.

As the world gets more and more connected and complicated, listening is turning ...

The 2016 Debacle

The Political landscapes across the globe were proving drastically wrong forecasts, with improbably wrong polling data.

The mainstream media, which is relying on social media for most of the data, was misleading because of it, and the political forecasters were not listening to what needed to be listened to.

Data-Driven Approach Backfires

By deriving polling data from social media and quoting trending soundbites from Twitter and Facebook, real voices that may not be trending and of any interest to politicians, lobbyists, activists or business interests are losing ground.

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A constructive conversation

It transfers ideas from one mind to another and removes all obstacles from the way. Such a conversation feels as relaxing as a Sunday afternoon in your pajamas.

"Conversational competence is the single most overlooked skill we fail to teach. Kids spend hours each day engaging with ideas and each other through screens, but rarely do they have an opportunity to hone their interpersonal communications skills…… Is there any 21st-century skill more important than being able to sustain coherent, confident conversation?"

"Conversational competence is the single most overlooked skill we fail to teach. Kids spend hours each day engaging with ideas and each other through screens, but rarely do they have an opportunity to hone their interpersonal communications skills…… Is there any 21st-century skill more important than being able to sustain coherent, confident conversation?"

Listening

Listening is not hearing to respond. It’s hearing to understand. Effective listening helps you understand the other’s perspective and underlying feelings. It helps you hear what’s not said.

The ideal balance is to listen 60 percent and speak 40 percent of the time.

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