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How to start a conversation with anyone: 15 tips [Making contact]

How to start a conversation with anyone: 15 tips [Making contact]

How do you start a conversation with someone you don’t know? How do you talk to strangers and how can you meet people? You are at a party, meeting or networking drink and you don’t know how to start a conversation, you are an entrepreneur and you want to make contact with colleagues or you simply want to make friends. How? Here you can read 15 tips for initiating social contacts.

Contents of this page:

Important: In this article, you will learn precise tips to start a conversation with anyone…

This is a very specific article, with good talking tips to know and to use, but if you want to get good at this on a deeper level, you should also read the article on self-confidence tips. The tips below are made because many people ask this question on Google. So there is a need for concrete tips and cut-paste sentences that you can use, and you will get them below.

That said … This article lists the best conversation techniques for communicating better and more effectively with new people. Let’s start with the complete step-by-step plan to have a conversation with a stranger, in which you make an actual connection …

(Step 1 – How do you start the conversation?)

making contact and socializing

What is the very first thing you do or say? Below are some suggestions:

Tip 0 – (For drinks and network meetings) Go stand somewhere open and exposed

Okay, let’s start with a tip prior to actually connecting. This is the most powerful tip and no one dares to use it! Suppose you are at a networking event and you are looking for people to talk to. The best thing to do is stand in the middle of the room (not at a table) and look into the room with your arms at your sides and look at everyone smiling. You will only have to do this for 10 seconds, because you immediately have your eye contact and you are already greeting someone almost automatically.

Are you at a party or drink? Stand open and exposed in the center of the room. Without a table and with an open chest, open posture, smile, palms facing upwards … Accept those few seconds of standing there all alone. It will only be short and someone will already reward your vulnerability …

So take the first small step. Allow the other to receive your first step. Each contact starts with a simple greeting, a wave or just eye contact. Be the one who takes this first step, or receive it warmly from the other. In any case, make sure that this first step happens. After all, nothing has happened yet, but the first energy has already been awarded to the other. Now it is important to see if there is reciprocity and the energy is returned because the other also makes a greeting, returns the eye contact or waves back.

You are already done with the first contact! On to the next tip!

Tip 1 – Assume that you are already friends

Even if you don’t know someone yet, the most important thing you do is assume that you already have a friendly relationship with the other person: you treat the other just as you would your best friend. You assume that everyone is already friends with each other. This feeling ‘turns on’ in yourself, after which your behavior will be very comfortable and attractive.

A connecting tip here is: go first. That means that you will have to be the first to adopt this sense of friendship. Otherwise you can wait a long time for someone else to do this.

Do you want openness and transparency? Dare to show the back of your tongue first and the other will follow. Share personal details, as only friends would with each other.

Moreover, feel free to be vulnerable . Give the other person a hug, because you would do that with friends too. Show your weaknesses and talk about them. This ensures recognition and deep connections and this is an invitation for the other to do the same (the mirror neurons take care of that).

Tip 2 – Share freely what you feel in the moment

This tip should be combined with tip 1. This is typically something you would only do with someone you really trust. If you do this directly with someone you don’t know yet, you are showing yourself very vulnerable , and that is powerful!

Show and share your genuine feelings, challenges and weaknesses. This creates connections. The other can identify with this.

Then why does this work so well? This is due to the natural law of ‘reciprocity’. When you share a lot of personal information about yourself while proposing, the other person will quickly do so too.

So share from your heart and be vulnerable . A conversation is boring because we are trapped in politeness and do not speak from our heart. You can make every conversation interesting and lively by really speaking honestly.

Tip 3 – By free I mean really … free and therefore uncensored, because only friends dare to do that!

connect with others as a friend

What is the difference between friends and non-friends? The degree to which you behave formally. When you talk to your best friends, do you talk formally and censor yourself? No! So if you want to quickly build a close friendship with new people, don’t censor yourself either.

So talk to strangers, just like to your close friends, not in a formal, but informal way:

  • Not: “So, you are going to take the old cardboard away?” But: “Well, get rid of that old shit.”
  • Not: “Annoying.” But: “Fucking shit.” (Yes, it’s vulgar but please stay with me here. If you are dealing with a vulgar person, you should talk in a vulgar way to connect with that person.)

What? Didn’t expect this vulgar tip? See, this article is about connecting with others. Not about etiquette and social skills. We already have other articles for that.

Tip 4 – Respond to the here and now of the experience of the other person

People love to talk about exactly what they are doing at that moment. Is someone sorting business cards? Then comment on that. So comment on what’s happening in the here and now instead of a random topic. In this way you step into the subjective world of the other.

Examples of this here-and-now empathy principle:

“I see an interesting frown / You sneezed: that was a hard sneeze!”

‘You are so quiet!’

You can also read thoughts  as a statement: “Seeing you, I bet you had a terrible / super nice day.” This encourages them to share about their day.

Tip 5 – Place a ‘time constraint’

If you suddenly start a conversation with someone, or with a group, the other will unconsciously evaluate: “Do I want to have this person there now?” How long will he stay? Not for the rest of the evening anyway! ‘

You can get around this all by a so-called time constraint: somewhere at the very beginning of the conversation you mention that you can only stay for a very short time (because you still have to do something / talk to someone else). This reassures the other, while you can just stay as long as necessary. Bonus tip: you can even say you only stay for two seconds. Everyone thinks that’s okay, while in reality it is of course a lot longer.

With a ‘time constraint’ you remove the compelling feeling. It is an excellent gesture of meeting.

Tip 6 – Copy paste sentences to use for approaching people

Use the following suggestions as literal snippet sentences.

  • You have not yet met the other, so you say that literally … “We have not yet met.” This is a very nice way that presupposes that you are going to meet, to which the other will always respond enthusiastically.
  • “Hi, would you like some company?”
  • Are people in a circle / group? Then say: ‘Hi, I am new / just arrived at this drink. Is it okay if I join your circle? ‘
  • Use one of these  compliments  to start the conversation.
  • In the supermarket, at the checkout, you see that someone has put something on the conveyor belt that you don’t know yet: ‘Cool, what is that? Have you tasted it before? ‘
  • You must combine this tip tip 1, in which you pretend that you have known each other for years. The tip now is to ask a question that you don’t normally ask someone you don’t know yet, but that you normally ask someone you’ve been friends with for some time. These are the following questions:
    – How are you?
    – How is / was your day?

(Step 2 – Start with ‘Small Talk’ at the beginning)

making contact - How do you start a conversation?

If we look at Bateson ‘s neurological levels , we see that “environment” and “behavior” are at the bottom. So start with those superficial levels: small talk. For example, a boy cannot just go up to a girl and ask, “What are you doing here on earth?” You can, but thanks to Bateson’s neurological levels, you can work towards that very ingeniously.

Tip 7 – Small talk is limited to environment and behavior

So start with environment and behavior …

  • The weather.
  • “How has your day been so far?”
  • What are your upcoming plans (for today)?
  • Location: what do you think of the band, is that the most recent one … / a real one …?
  • Occasion: I’m curious, what brought you here today?

Tip 8 – Observe, look carefully and notice many things

Make a perceptive statement about where you are – or what you can notice about the other person. Open your eyes, ears, mind and feeling …

For example, what kind of objects do you see in or on the clothes, car or bicycle of the other person? For example, you see someone standing there and you notice some interesting things …

  • She is drinking with her left hand.
  • She wears heels, but seems uncomfortable with them.
  • She is with a group of boys and girls, but looks at other men.

As you approach this person, you see even more …

  • She has a small flower tattoo on her inner wrist.
  • She reaches for her phone and swipes around aimlessly.
  • She is wearing a locket necklace.

Then you come closer to introduce yourself. She answers and you notice even more …

  • She has an accent.
  • She’s wearing a fruity perfume.
  • She introduces herself as ‘pleasant’. A word that she thinks is important.

In short: be attentive. Think outside the box:

  • What does she say?
  • How does she say it?
  • Is there a pun?
  • What’s she wearing?
  • What does she smell like?
  • What is the environment like?
  • What did she do before she was approached?
  • Why is she opening up to you right now?

A good rule of thumb is that if you don’t even remember the other person’s name, you’re not listening carefully and are not paying attention.

Tip 9 – Use your observations for topics of conversation

For example, there are verbal points you can comment on. For example, if she says, “My roommate and I are just driving back from the Jason Mraz concert in Madrid. I really dread my work report that I have to work on again on Monday …” then you can work with…

  • She is friends with her roommate.
  • She is on a road trip, traveling from Madrid to Groningen.
  • She has a job.
  • She loves Jason Mraz.

Non-verbal points to pick up on:

  • She is left-handed, as she holds her drink with her dominant hand.
  • She’s uncomfortable on her heels because she’s fidgeting.
  • She’s probably single: no wedding ring, looking around with friends.
  • She can be a little rebellious or creative: tattoo in a visible place.
  • There is probably something in the locket. It can be special or sentimental.
  • She is not a local visitor: Groningen accent.

Provide your own input:

  • How does that feel for me?
  • What do I know about the subject?
  • What do I want to know about the topic?
  • What is my opinion on that?
  • Do I have a funny or interesting story about it?
  • Can I joke about it?
  • What can I deduce from this? Can I make an educated guess about her?

Just a few (somewhat flirty) examples:

  • “How are you going to get that reporting done if you’re texting me all day long?”
  • “You know what they say about lefties? Brilliant, creative, but totally insane.”
  • “I had to introduce myself, we left-handers have to stick together, you know.”
  • “I don’t know how you can stay in there all night.” (about her high heels.)
  • “A wrist tattoo is a bold move. Do you have any other tattoos I should know about?”
  • “I know this is personal, but I have to ask … what’s in the locket? Please don’t say it’s a picture of your cat.”
  • “Why did you go for electric blue?” (her nail color.)

(Step 3 – Exchange Personal Information)

making contact - How do you start a conversation?

Now that we’ve had small talk, we can also get a little more personal. We remain at a relatively superficial level: we have only just met. A perfect time to find out facts about each other.

Tip 10 – A ‘hack’ with which you connect very quickly: the descent of people

The great thing about this tip is that it is still on the surface, while it is very, very powerful to build a connection with someone: ask about someone’s origins and / or where they grew up (hometown).

Tip 11 – Remember FORD

Use the English mnemonic FORD as a reminder to exchange personal information.

  • Friends/family
  • Occupation, and whether you like it. (Tip: ‘What keeps you busy?’ Is less cliché than ‘What kind of work / study do you do?’)
  • Recreation: What Can You Really Enjoy? And why? The same goes for yourself: why do you like the things you like?
  • Dreams (not too deep, just some future plans)

(Step 4 – Ask for views and opinions)

making contact - How do you start a conversation?

Positions and opinions are a very nice way to build a bond, without suddenly going super deep.

Tip 12 – Ask for the other’s opinion: be someone’s biggest fan!

Be someone’s biggest fan and make the other feel fascinating: what can you learn from the other, what kind of life wisdom does the other have? This makes the other feel important. Always make the other feel important to themselves. Asking each other for help is also something good friends do together.

See the other as equal, even if the other has a lower hierarchical position.

(H) recognition and appreciation of the other is the key to connection. What makes the other so unique? What has the other accomplished? Also think of non-verbal ways of expressing recognition: pat on the back, hug, high five or box!

“If you want enemies, excel your friends; but if you want friends, let your friends excel you.”
– La Rochefoucauld

Have a sympathetic desire to see the other person’s perspective. This is all the more important if someone disagrees with you. If someone is trying to start a discussion and the other person brings up a point that you didn’t think about, show them appreciation for that point and talk about it more deeply. Consider his-her point seriously and honestly, put your pride aside, and be willing to admit your own mistakes in your thinking.

  • “What is your opinion about …?”
  • what do you think of…? What was your favorite part of the trip? ‘(Instead of,’ Did you like your trip? ‘)
  • What do you like about it / What do you like most about it? What part of … makes it so special / nice / memorable / your goal? ´
  • Ask the other person ‘s advice .
  • Ask if the other person can teach you anything .
  • Ask what the other person has achieved.
  • Recognize how special the other person’s idea is: ‘Very special and cool that you look at it that way, I had never heard it!’

I can see that you are fantastic at x, but if I try I will probably become just as good as you.

(Step 5 – Talk about personal feelings)

making contact - How do you start a conversation?

Now we are already going pretty deep …

Tip 13 – Emotions are your best tool if you want to make friends

Share how you feel and make statements about how others feel (or ask).

  • “You must be glad …” “That must have made you very happy then.”
  • “Could it be true that Christmas is a stressful time for you?”
  • Not recommended, but is possible, is to ask: “What feelings do you get when …” This is not recommended because it sounds a bit strange. Naming solves that problem. See next bullet …
  • Naming: “I can imagine that you feel relieved / uncomfortable.”
  • How was that? How did that feel?

Tip 14 – at least think of the following emotions / feelings

  • Fears
  • Needs
  • Wishes (something you want)
  • Joys (what makes you happy)

(Step 6 – Climb to the very highest levels of Bateson to really connect with strangers)

How to start a conversation 1

Tip 15 – Use these questions and models to go into depth

Now is the time to go to belief level, identity level and even mission level, for example. To do this, use Bateson’s neurological levels model.

You can also use the upchunk technique for this. This gives you more depth by using the why question and climbing further in the neurological levels.

If you follow the above two models – the ‘neurological levels’ and ‘upchunken’ – you will, for example,  arrive at someone’s values ​​and motivations . This effectively brings the conversation to a deeper level. Examples of these types of questions to get here are:

  • What motivated you to start with {fill in what it is about}?
  • Who inspired you to {fill in what it is about}?
  • Why are you doing this? What are your concerns?
  • What’s in it for you?

With the why question you enter into more meaningful conversations. With this question you discover someone’s criteria, or values.

  • Where do you live? Interesting, why there?
  • What kind of work do you do? Interesting, why that work?

How do you start a conversation with everyone? Now you know it!

Those were all the tips again. This article about connecting and how to start a conversation anywhere and with anyone is updated regularly. So stay tuned to this blog.

Good luck making contact! Finally, take a look at the tips on social skills  and the extensive  dating blog articles.

About The Author


Hello! Thanks for reading these articles. My intention is to make happiness as simple and clear as posssible. By the way, excuse my English. I am not a native English speaker since I live in Amsterdam. Much appreciated if you use the comments to make suggestions on my grammar. See ya in another blogpost!