Conversation Starters

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Conversation Starters

Post  Mark on Sat Mar 24, 2012 12:45 pm

Talking about the weather

Beautiful day, isn't it?
Can you believe all of this rain we've been having?
It looks like it's going to snow.
It sure would be nice to be in Hawaii right about now.
I hear they're calling for thunderstorms all weekend.
We couldn't ask for a nicer day, could we?
How about this weather?
Did you order this sunshine?

Talking about current events

Did you catch the news today?
Did you hear about that fire on Fourth St?
What do you think about this transit strike?
I read in the paper today that the Sears Mall is closing.
I heard on the radio today that they are finally going to start building the new bridge.
How about those Reds? Do you think they're going to win tonight?

At the office

Looking forward to the weekend?
Have you worked here long?
I can't believe how busy/quiet we are today, can you?
Has it been a long week?
You look like you could use a cup of coffee.
What do you think of the new computers?

At a social event

So, how do you know Justin?
Have you tried the cabbage rolls that Sandy made?
Are you enjoying yourself?
It looks like you could use another drink.
Pretty nice place, huh?
I love your dress. Can I ask where you got it?

Out for a walk

How old's your baby?
What's your puppy's name?
The tulips are sure beautiful at this time of year, aren't they.
How do you like the new park?
Nice day to be outside, isn't it?

Waiting somewhere

I didn't think it would be so busy today.
You look like you've got your hands full (with children or goods).
The bus must be running late today.
It looks like we are going to be here a while, huh?
I'll have to remember not to come here on Mondays.
How long have you been waiting?


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Re: Conversation Starters

Post  Mark on Mon Jun 25, 2012 1:33 pm

Another great on conversation:

"Social Skydiving: The Art of Talking to Strangers
by Brad Bollenbach


I’ve travelled all over the world, from New York to Cape Town, Rio de Janeiro to Tokyo. I’ve had the privilege of working with brilliant minds. A few years ago I learned French, and mastered the language well enough to speak in horrible slang with a fully authentic accent. I bought my first house not even 72 hours after my first ever house-shopping expedition, and only hours before I was due on a plane to Australia.

But the single most exhilarating thing I’ve ever done was to make a habit of talking to strangers.

Nothing has changed my world view, and my life, more than taking the risk of saying “Hi” to people I don’t know on a regular basis. Whether I’m walking down a busy shopping street, longboarding in the park, or out at a nightclub, I see every moment that I’m out in the world as a chance to meet new people.
How to Become a Social Skydiver

I can’t help but geek out on almost everything I do. Dating, relationships, and social circle building are no exception. I set goals in those areas and take action to achieve them. Here’s the recipe I use for bringing new people into my life, whether it’s making new friends around common interests, meeting women, or making business contacts.

Figure out what you want. What kind of social life do you want? What kind of people do you want to meet? Do you want a serious girlfriend or something more casual? Knowing what you want helps you focus on spending your social time in productive ways.
Smallchunk it. Start with smaller daily or weekly goals to propel you in the right direction. For example, a few years ago I decided to give up online dating forever, and meet girls only through real world means. I started by going out and just making eye contact with girls in the street, too shy to even open my mouth. I worked my way up to deeper interactions in various social situations. These days, I can go from no love life whatsoever to dating in a week or two.
Let go of your ego. I’ve been told to “Fuck off!” I’ve been ignored. I’ve been brushed off in dramatic fashion. I’ve also met and dated women of unique vintage and beauty. When you take the risk of talking to someone you don’t know, rejection is the only certainty. But failure is exciting–it’s a chance to learn and improve. There’s a name for guys who never get rejected by women, never say the wrong thing, and never have their ego bruised by the opposite sex: Internet Porn Connaisseurs.
Get out of your house! Don’t spend months trying to get past step #1. Even if you’re not sure exactly what you want, get out of your house and start opening up to the world. Motivation follows action, and experience will help inform your objectives.

How to Approach People

I prefer to keep my conversations fairly organic. I don’t like coming in with “canned material”, “nuclear attraction” routines, or other social robotics. The best way, in my experience, is to come from the heart and live fully in the moment.

What you say isn’t nearly as important as how you say it. Socializing is about exchanging energy, not being a wordsmith. When in doubt, just say “Hi”.

If you’ve never done this before, you may get brushed off several, even dozens of times until you get really comfortable being yourself in front of other people. Attractive women are highly socialized. A girl can sense your nervousness and anticipated rejection, and will take no prisoners when shooting you down.

That’s okay. It’s normal. Pat yourself on the back for having the balls to do what 95% of men around the world couldn’t do if their life depended on it. Then move on to the next one.
What I’ve Learned from Talking to Strangers

Talking to strangers has, literally, changed my world view and my life. It’s taught me so many things that I could never have learned from a book. Here’s what I’ve taken away from my experiences thus far:

People don’t bite. A lot of people are really open to conversation. In fact, you’d be amazed at how many girls will be practically overjoyed that you came and talked to them, as if they’ve been waiting for you to approach them.
Rejection is no big deal. I can’t repeat this enough. Still, fear of rejection will be the main reason why guys don’t go out and try this. If you are willing to get rejected, brush it off and keep going, you will have an awesome sex life. Period.
Authenticity is the silver bullet. An honest individuality is the most magnetic of human qualities. But keep in mind that buying a girl a drink and showering her with compliments is not being sweetly authentic; it’s saying “I want to sleep with you.”
The people around you aren’t watching. And, even when they are, it’s usually in shock and awe, rather than because they’re laughing at you.
Other guys will get out of your way. You’ll be amazed how often other guys simply fade into the background when you approach their female friends.

I could go on, but ultimately it comes down to you experiencing it for yourself.
One Approach a Day

If you’re still terrified by the idea of talking to strangers, I’d recommend one specific challenge to get you started, which I’ve done myself: Talk to one stranger a day, every day, for 30 days.

If you’re walking past a girl on the sidewalk, say “Hi”, and she looks at you and keeps walking (done that many times), your job is done for the day. If you walk up to a girl in a club and say “Hey!”, and she responds, with a slightly grossed out look “I have a boyfriend.”, congratulations, you’re one step closer to improving your love life. The point of this exercise is to get you used to talking to people you don’t know and form the habit of being more social.

Talking to strangers will change your life. You’ll meet new people every day, you’ll give yourself control over your social and love life, and you’ll experience firsthand the joy of living dangerously."


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Re: Conversation Starters

Post  Mark on Wed Aug 15, 2012 11:36 pm

1. Show interest in and be curious about those you talk with.

In conversation, to be curious is a definite plus. Being curious about another person helps to engage us and to validate that person as interesting. On the other hand, if we seem bored by or indifferent to the person, they feel invalidated, as if we are saying "You hold no interest for me. You are not interesting."

Not to be curious can be troublesome in life. As human relations speaker and author Dale Carnegie wrote:

"It is the individual who is not interested in his fellow men who has the greatest difficulties in life and provides the greatest injury to others. It is from among such individuals that all human failures spring."

Consider the spouse who shows no curiosity about what his partner is thinking or feeling, or the parent who does not wonder about the thoughts and inner lives of the children. Consider the manager, thinking s/he knows everything about the business and who expresses no interest in the employees' ideas. We know the results: Distance and negative feelings between the people.

The good news is that we can choose to be interested or curious. This is an act of intention. For example, who has not taken a required course of study that "held" no interest at the outset but then, when you saw that being uninterested in the subject resulted in poor learning and grades, you decided to be interested in order to learn better.

The same is true for our interest in other people. For example, a husband whose marriage is troubled and who faces separation and even divorce because he expresses so little interest in his wife may choose to "become interested" about his wife and what she has to say. When he changes his thinking and his attitudes, his conversational behavior also changes. He pays close attention. He asks questions. He listens carefully.

I notice that many people try to appear interesting themselves instead of being genuinely interested in others. When we show interest in others, they usually begin to show interest in us. However, when we try to be interesting, we often look self-conscious or even vain, whereas being genuinely interested in other people makes our conversations and life experience a rich adventure.

2. Balance the talking and listening. Take turns.

We Americans tend mainly to be out-going, extraverts, talkative. That's probably a plus, because we are an optimistic, "can-do" society. However, for relationships, lots of talking and too much talking can be harmful to personal and business relationships.

The scientific evidence suggests that balancing our conversation so that everyone gets a turn who wants a turn is supportive of social relations. In informal conversation, balance requires that speakers monitor themselves so that they do not dominate by talking too much. It is also important for more quiet people to speak up from time to time so that the talkative ones don't think you are giving up any interest in sharing your ideas.
Having balance in a conversation suggests safety and fairness and creates a supportive climate for honest ideas to be expressed and heard.

Balancing the talk doesn't require a strict 50-50 distribution. The ratio can be 80-20 and still be balanced, as when one person is mainly interviewing the other who of course will do most of the talking. The key here is not so much the actual time each one talks. It is the taking turns that matters. One person may ask a brief question that requires a long, detailed answer.

Having balance in a conversation suggests safety and fairness and creates a supportive climate for honest ideas to be expressed and heard. In large groups, a chairperson or a facilitator can monitor and direct the talk and make certain everyone has a chance to speak fully. In casual conversation, we must manage ourselves to make sure we have balance.

3. Give genuine compliments and real praise when appropriate:

a. "Don't praise people, only what people do. It's less likely that there will be a gap between what someone hears and what he thinks about himself if we don't make sweeping comments about what he is like as a person."

b. "Make praise as specific as possible. Even better than 'That's a really nice story' is 'That's neat at the end when you leave the main character a little confused about what happened to him.'"

c. "Avoid phony praise. . . . One symptom of phony praise is a squeaky, saccharine voice that slides up and down the scale and bears little resemblance to the way we converse with our friends. A four-year-old can usually tell the difference between a genuine expression of pleasure and phony praise, between a sincere smile and one that is manufactured and timed for best effect."

d. "Avoid praise that sets up competition. Phrases like 'You're the best in the class (or for adults, in this department)," whose "most pernicious effects . . . encourage a view of others as rivals rather than as potential collaborators. What's more, they lead people to see their own worth in terms of whether they have beaten everyone else - a recipe for perpetual insecurity."

Some time ago, a student asked, "Whenever I compliment my friend, she resists. How can I make my compliments stick?"

Try this method: Add a question after your compliment:

"I think your new hairstyle is stunning, Sally! Who did it for you?"

4. Keep your positive energy up.

"When we interact with others, we exchange not only words and bodily expressions. We also give off - exchange - our vital energy. If our energy is high and vibrant, we lift the conversation. If it's low and sluggish, we sap energy from the encounter."

5. Ask better questions.

A routine question will evoke a routine response. Thus, "How's it going?" will generally get a "Fine, thanks," or perhaps a "I can't complain." If the purpose of the question is only to acknowledge an acquaintance briefly and move on, your purpose is served. This is the social function of language that the anthropologist Malinowski called "phatic communion," which is nothing more than a brief and superficial verbal connection, the smallest of small talk.
A routine question will evoke a routine response.

However, if you'd prefer a more substantial conversation, you'll need to use a different question to evoke a different response. A deeper and more detailed conversation will certainly be less predictable and probably more interesting, and it will likely have the effect of enriching your relationship.

Here are four suggestions for more productive questions:

1. Ask questions that elicit detail. These are often "What?" questions.

For example, "What did you finally decide about relocating?" or "What did you do on your trip to Mexico?" will usually stimulate detailed responses. Questions that don't require detail, such as "How are your plans coming along?" and "How was your trip?" can be answered with a mere "Good, thanks."

2. Ask open questions that require more than a Yes or No. These are the "Wh" and "H" questions beginning with What, Why, Where, and How. These work better than "closed questions" that limit the response, such as "Did you like the movie?" Instead, "What did you like about the movie?" draws out a more interesting and detailed response.

3. Ask some questions that are a little bit surprising or "edgy." These are not meant to put the person on the hot seat, or to make them uncomfortable, but to stimulate and get a lively response instead of a routine response. "What's the most exciting/challenging thing that's happening with you at this time?" is such an edgy question. Predictable questions usually evoke predictable responses, such as "What did you learn in school today?" "Oh, not much."

4. Use some "If?" questions such as "If you had the means to pursue your dream occupation, what would it be?" Or "If you could have dinner with a famous person, whom would you choose?" Such questions break out of the routine and add some fresh energy to the conversation. By the way, don't ask others any question you yourself would not want to be asked. Also, be prepared to answer the very "If?" questions you ask. The other converser may say, "Let me think about that for a minute. Meanwhile, you go first."

Book recommendations of article:
Questions That Work, by Andrew Finlayson (2001)
Energy Medicine, by Donna Eden (1999) Become an Energy Addict, by Jon Gordon (2003) The Mars and Venus Diet and Exercise Book, by John Gray (2003)
"A fine resource to enable positive talk is the book, Encyclopedia of Positive Questions by Diana Whitney and others (2002)"
Writing in his landmark 1996 book, "Punished by Rewards," Alfie Kohn


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Re: Conversation Starters

Post  Mark on Sun Jan 27, 2013 10:30 pm


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