Introverts like me struggle with starting a conversation with someone they don’t know. Self-talk is my adversary when I hear myself say, “Why would someone be interested in me?” I have learned in this case that I should listen to my self-talk. Most people aren’t interested in what you have to say. It might sound rude but it is the truth. They want you to be interested in them. For an introvert like me, that should make it easier to start a conversation. When you talk, ask questions and listen.

Courtesy of Wordle

When meeting someone new, focus on finding something you both have in common. Don’t you like it when you meet someone new and you discover that you have the same interests? I’ve found that within 4 to 5 questions I can usually find something we are both interested in. Some examples of questions I have used include:

1.     Where are you from?

This gets to the other person’s background and what makes them who they are. If the other person is from the mid-west, where I am from, the conversation goes places we have been in the area. If they are from someplace else, it may be someplace I have visited or would like to visit. I can ask questions to learn more about where they are from.

I have learned about other countries, cultures, and added to my list of places I want to visit someday.

2.     What do you do?

What they do may be related to what I do or even better, what someone else I know does. I say it is better because if I know someone in their business I may be able to introduce them to someone I know and may be able to help them. My friend Tim Sanders in his book Love is the Killer App say,

“the purpose of collecting contacts is to give them away.”

Find out what they need help with so that you can connect them. I suggest connecting people in your network at every opportunity.

I connected someone who was getting her degree in a field with someone who had been in the field for 30+ years (the one now mentors the other). I have connected people with a medical need with a specialist.

3.     What has been the most amazing experience of your life?

This can be one of the most interesting questions you can ask. People have done some amazing things. Most of the time, we never hear about it because no one asks them.

I have met people who have been on Jeopardy, sky dive, and pilot single engine planes.

4.     What is one thing you plan to do before you die?

This can be another very interesting question. You can learn what drives people, and what they are passionate about.

I’ve had people tell me that they plan to write a best-selling book, travel the world, and volunteer.

5.     If you could meet anyone, who would it be?

This is another opportunity to learn what you may have in common. If you know famous people you may be able to connect someone to them.

I know people who want to meet the Dan Cathy, the Queen of England, and Jim Henson.

All of these questions are simple conversation starters. They also focus on the other person. Imagine someone asking you these questions. Wouldn’t you feel honored that someone wants to know your answers to these questions? Of course you can and should create your own list of questions. To see examples watch TV interviews and identify questions you might ask other people. The answers to these questions should spur follow-up questions. As long as your questions focus on the other person, you are sure to have a meaningful conversation.

What questions do you ask to start a conversation?
How do you start a conversation with someone new?

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