Opening the Door to Conversation

May 1st, 2012 by DTopus

As much as people understand the value of making random connections, and want to make them, they often don’t know what to say to start a conversation with a stranger.  Well, let’s say you can never go wrong with a compliment, or an observation about the moment. Authenticity and transparency are the keys.

I recently made a great connection with someone standing next to me at the bookstore next to a huge display of advice books for college graduates. All I did was remark on how much advice there was on the topic, and how kids today need all the help they can get. He agreed, and then I made the conversation a little more personal by asking if he needed that much advice when HE graduated (he was my age so I knew I was taking him back a ways). Not really he said, because he had an in-demand major and got a job right away. He proceeded to tell me about his first job, and how things were easier then. From we talked about his career path and current line of work, for which my book happened to be highly relevant. He bought a copy, we exchanged cards, and I now have a new contact who happens to run a small engineering company. It all began with a comment about what was happening in the moment.

I struck up another great exchange with a complete stranger at Starbucks that same afternoon by complimenting her blouse, by which of course she was quite flattered. “Is it your favorite”? I asked. Monitoring the friendliness of her response, we had an engaging and fun conversation about our favorite clothes, whether we pick what we want to wear the night before, and whether we choose our outfit for how we feel or how we want to feel that day. An unusual line of conversation with a complete stranger? Perhaps, but it led to an authentic and interesting conversation — always a good start to any random encounter.
People are hungry for connection, so an observation about a shared experience or a favorable comment about the other person is a sure way to open the door to conversation. From there, anything is possible.

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