How to Start a Good Conversation

Three Methods:Conversation HelpStart a Good Conversation with AnyoneStart a Conversation with Different Types of People

Starting a conversation with someone is probably one of the hardest parts of communication. You may find that you can talk to some people instantly, while talking to others is like pulling teeth. But don't worry -- there are a few universal tricks that will help you start a good conversation with almost anyone, and a few tips for starting conversations with specific people. If you want to know how to start a good conversation, just follow these steps.

Conversation Help

Sample Conversation Starters

Great Conversation Topic Examples

Sample Conversation Topics to Avoid

Method 1
Start a Good Conversation with Anyone

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    Make the person feel like you care. You can turn a total stranger into a friend just by making him feel like you care about what he has to say and that his opinion matters to you. If the person thinks you're talking just to hear your own voice, he'll be turned off immediately. Instead, turn your body and focus toward that person and maintain eye contact without being too intense. Give the person enough personal space, but show that the person has your attention.
    • Make the person feel like his thoughts are important. If he begins to talk about a subject, ask more questions about it instead of talking about something that you really want to talk about.
    • Use the person's name once or twice after you learn it.
    • If the person talks first, nod intently to show that you're listening.
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    Ask questions without interrogating the person. Many a good conversation begins with questions but the person you're talking to should not feel as if he's being interviewed at a police station. Do not fire questions at the person without giving your feedback and actually conversing with him or her. Nothing is worse than feeling like you're getting the third degree. Asking too many questions will only make the other person feel uncomfortable and will leave him finding a way out of the conversation.
    • If you realize that you've been asking too many questions, make a joke about it. Say, "Sorry -- the interview is over," and move on to talking about something else.
    • Ask the person about his hobbies or interests, not about his dreams and desires.
    • Talk about something fun. Don't ask the person what he thinks about the latest tragedy on the news or how much he's had to work overtime recently. Make the person enjoy the subject of the conversation as well as the conversation itself.
    • Make sure that you're sharing, too. Ideally, you and the other person should share the same amount.
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    Be funny. This doesn't mean that you have to do a stand-up routine but just throw in some jokes and tell them a funny story to break the ice. You'll be surprised at how sharing funny stories will get others to open up. Everyone likes to laugh and laughing makes others feel comfortable. This is a nice way to lighten up those tense people and to get them talking.
    • Use your wit to get the person's attention. Show that you're quick on your feet and are comfortable with wordplay, clever jokes, and general banter.
    • If you have a killer funny story, use it, as long as it's short. Don't tell a long story you haven't tried out before or you may fall flat on your face.
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    Ask open ended questions. Open ended questions are questions that require more than a yes or no for an answer. Open ended questions allow people to elaborate and this creates conversation. You are drawing the person out and making him part of a conversation. Open ended questions bring growth to a conversation as opposed to questions with yes or no answers.
    • Make sure the questions is open-ended enough. Don't ask the person about what he thinks is the meaning of life; just ask what he thinks of the Lakers' season this year.
    • You should also know when the conversation isn't going well. If someone is giving you yes or no answers to questions that require more of a response, then that person may not be that interested in talking to you.
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    Know what not to do. There are a few ways to kill any good conversation before it has time to blossom. If you want to know how to start a good conversation, then there are a few basic things you should avoid right from the beginning.
    • Don't reveal overly-personal information. Don't talk about your painful breakup, the weird rash on your back, or how you're starting to wonder if anyone in your life really loves you. You can save that for people who actually know you well.
    • Don't ask the person something that could lead to an uncomfortable response. Let the person talk about his significant other, career, or health. Don't ask if the person is dating someone only to find that he's recently had his heart broken.
    • Don't spend the whole time talking about yourself. Though poking fun at yourself and offering some personal information can put the other person at ease, if you're droning on and on about how great you are or what you're going to have for breakfast the next day, the person will quickly lose interest.
    • Pay attention. Don't forget the person's name, job, or any important information the person reveals after five minutes. This will make the person feel like you don't care at all. When the person says his name, repeat it aloud so you're more likely to remember it.

Method 2
Start a Conversation with Different Types of People

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    Start a conversation with someone you like. If you've just met a person you like and want to start a good conversation, then you need to make the person instantly attracted to you by bringing up something original, witty, and engaging, and by flirting a little bit. When you're starting a conversation with someone you like, the way you say something is more important than what you say. Keep eye contact and face your body toward that person, showing him or her that you're paying attention. Here are some great ways to start a conversation with someone you like:
    • If you're at a party, talk about the music that's playing. That will give you something to talk about -- whether you both hate or love the music.
    • If you're meeting at a bar, ask the person for a drink recommendation. Then you can approve if you like the drink or tease the person if it's not up to par.
    • Talk about the person's leisure activities. Without being too pushy, ask her what she likes to do for fun on the weekends.
    • Don't talk about your jobs. This is just not a turn-on. You can get to that later.
    • Tease the person. If it's hot out and she's wearing a sweater, gently tease the girl's fashion choice.
    • Talk about pets. People love talking about their pets. If you have a pet, you can even swap photos.
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    Start a conversation with a potential friend. If you instantly develop a friend crush on someone you meet or see, or if you're just hanging out with a friend of a friend and want to get to know him better, you should show an interest in him without sounding like an interviewer, and make him laugh and want to get to know you.
    • Keep it positive. Don't be self-deprecating or complain right away; open with a positive remark, like talking about how great your local sports team is doing (if you think that person likes sports) or how much you love the bar or restaurant where you find yourself.
    • Talk about your neighborhood. People take pride in where they live and the things they love to do in that area, so if you live in the same hood, you can bond over how great it is. Then you can get more personal and talk about places where you used to live.
    • Ask the person what he or she likes to do for fun. Maybe you'll find that you have some of the same interests.
    • Don't talk so much about yourself. Make sure you're talking about each other equally. You should walk away with some new information about that person.
    • If you have mutual friends, ask that person how he knows your mutual friend. You could get into some funny stories about a person you both know.
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    Start a conversation with a coworker. Starting a conversation with a coworker can be a little trickier than starting a conversation with a potential love interest or friend because there are some lines that shouldn't be crossed in a work environment. Still, if you keep things positive and talk about your personal lives just enough, you'll be able to have a lively conversation.
    • Ask your coworker about his family. Everyone loves talking about his or her family, so just casually ask how the person's family is doing. Your coworker will be whipping out photos and giving you more information than you want to hear in a second.
    • Talk about what you're going to do with your weekends. If you work together, then you both look forward to getting out at work on Friday and doing something fun or relaxing over the weekend. Your coworker will be happy about sharing his plans if you don't pry too much.
    • Bond over a mutual complaint. Mention the traffic, broken copier, or lack of creamer in the kitchen, and you both can shake your heads together as you jump into a more lively conversation.
    • Don't talk about work too much. Unless you're starting a conversation with a coworker because you have a work-related question, work on showing your human side and talking about your friends, families, and interests instead of your projects or reports. Find a human connection that you can make outside of working.
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    Start a conversation with a group of people. Talking with an entire group of people can be a bit more tricky. The safest bet in starting a conversation is finding common ground. Though it can be hard to make everyone feel at ease and like they have something to contribute to the conversation, you should try to include as many people as possible by keeping things broad and light.
    • Poke fun at yourself. This is a great tactic especially if you're starting a conversation with people who know you but don't know each other very well. Let people laugh at you or tease you, and they'll be on their way to building a common bond.
    • Try to address the group instead of just one or two people. If you specifically direct your comment at one person, the others will feel left out.
    • Pet peeves make for good conversation starters because everyone has them. You can start off by telling a story about one of your pet peeves and others are sure to join in.
    • Think of things that the people in the group may have in common and bring them up. You don't have to be subtle. You can say, "Hey, you both love the Giants -- did you see that crazy game last night?"


  • Think of a conversation as a sea-saw ride. You both need to have an equal share of talking, so don't rant on forever on something boring like toothpaste because your friend will feel annoyed. And if the person you're talking to is the only one talking, say something about it. You will feel less low if you have fun at parties.
  • Think about your tone. A good conversation should have a tone that's not too soft but not too loud.
  • Try thinking about some things that you can talk about before you engage in a conversation. This can also help you get out of some unpleasant conversations.
  • Don't feel the need to dominate in order to have a good conversation. Let the other person open up as well.
  • Avoid asking Yes or No questions and instead ask questions that require some thought and can be explained more.
  • When you make a comment or ask a question, make it a very open question or comment (this means something that you can ask or say to anyone). Something like, 'Do you know where I can find the grocery store?', 'The summer weather is so nice,' or 'Finally, the holiday is here'.


  • When asking a more personal question, don't make it deeply personal. Ask questions such as, 'What and where you up to this holiday?' 'What is your reason for being at the mall?', 'Where are you from?' or 'How is your family doing'?.
  • Don't talk about something that could be potentially embarrassing or awkward this could lead to extreme silences and/or cringing.

Article Info

Categories: Conversation Skills