How to Talk to Anyone.

In this section I present you with essential tips on how to talk to anyone.

This is becoming increasingly difficult in this modern world. Yes, it is true and we need to accept it. We feel more comfortable asking how someone is, sending a message via some social media platform, or mobile operator message service. We ask questions on the millions of web forums out there. We make comments on environmental situations which concern us. However, these are all things we once used to discuss in the street. A thing which we do rarely now.

So how do we change this? We simply need to reassess the boundaries of our comfort zone. This is all it boils down to, in fact. We have learnt to hide behind the cloak of the social media platform, the digital mask which shields us from the direct confrontation of physical social interaction. So by simply changing our routines, we can very quickly return to the state we were once in not many years ago. The state that allowed us to read the newspaper in the morning, to make comments about what we read in the newspaper, or to simply ask people’s opinion on the world’s current affairs, the weather, the environment, or simply who won the football match the night before.

So let’s go through the list of most common tips for talking to anyone on a train, a plane, or in any public situation where the opportunity to start a conversation can arise naturally.

1.Ask their opinion – Everyone loves to give their opinion. We are all experts in our own field, sometimes claiming to know more than the experts themselves. So when we need an opinion on the best holiday to take, the ideal car for a new family, or simply the best restaurant to eat at in the local area, don’t dismiss your friend’s opinion.

2.Ask a question which generally gives an easy-to-answer reply – I get this a lot when I am on the train, standing next to the door. I ask myself sometimes, “Am I dressed like the train guard?” As people ask me, “Does this train go to Milan?” However, more forced-answer questions can really open up a conversation, like “Isn’t this just a wonderful location?”

3.Comment on the environment -When I mean the environment, I mean it in a very general sense. It could mean the local shopping centre, or the local park. Once you have made a positive and hopefully also neutral comment about the place you are in, generally people tend to be forthcoming with replies.

4.Get information on an update (e.g. travel, sports, news etc.) You may be waiting in an airport and there is a delay. A great chance to talk to someone is if you ask them what the latest is on the delayed flight. If you are into sports and it is the period of the World Cup Football competition, a great way to start a conversation may be to ask about their interest in it and if their team is doing well.

5.Skip the small talk and go in deep! Sometimes I like to cut to the chase and go straight into a conversation with a philosophical question. For example,  “What is holding you back from the person you want to be?”

6.Ask for advice or recommendations on something. E.g. tourism etc. When you are visiting a strange town, you need to familiarise yourself with it. What better way than to start a conversation with a stranger, asking for local information. You never know, if your conversation is successful you may make a new friend and even have someone to go with to your social event.

7.Ask any open-ended questions. Well, let’s understand closed-ended questions first. A closed-ended question is one that generates a simple, yes or no answer in most cases. Although rarely there may be an answer which implies the other person is not able to reply due to lack of knowledge or for some other reason. For example, “Do you like football?” This question will have a yes, no, or I don’t know response.

So an open-ended question is the opposite: a question which will generally provide a deeper reply. However, at times the question can be simple, provoking someone to simple list facts. For example, “What are your hobbies?” This could bring the person answering to engage in conversation with you, or just simply list the hobbies they have an interest in. It is then up to you to keep the conversation alive.

8.Ask a question about kids, pets, hobbies etc. Similar to the type of questions mentioned above, here the information you are looking for should bring about animated conversation on a range of subjects which are easily accessible to any non-native English speaker, as well as native English speakers. As this is something we often practise on a daily basis.

9.Ask a hypothetical question. A hypothetical question can be a great way to break the ice and also get to know someone. It is also a great way to pass the time, giving some fun, and deep answers from all who contribute. For example:

“If you had to pick an animal that best describes your personality, what animal would you choose and why?”

10.Make a note of something nice. E.g. The design of the place you are in. By doing this you are relating to the person and sharing something about your tastes. Maybe they share the same tastes, which will then instigate an animated conversation. However, even disagreeing on something can be animating!

11.Make a comment on the weather, but make it creative. These days it is very easy to find information out about the weather, even if it is rarely very accurate. However, it is still a good conversation starter. On the other hand, if you are not creative when starting a conversation about the weather, people will quickly lose interest. So be creative, by thinking of a different way to look at the weather. Talk about the past weather situations and how it is affecting the environment. The effect on businesses, schools, and institutions.

12.Ask for local information or something relevant to the place you are at. If you have just arrived in a town or a city, it is a great idea to start up a conversation about what is happening in the local area. It may be appropriate to ask about local cultural events, or simply when the local street market is in operation. These can all help to start up a conversation with someone.

13.Ask for assistance. We all need help sometimes, so by asking someone to help you with your bags, to direct you to the hotel you are staying at, or simply find out where the nearest bank is can be a way to strike up a conversation with someone if they are not in a hurry.

14.Offer assistance. If you see someone needs help, by offering it to them you gain their respect and in return, maybe a few minutes conversation.

15.Share a common experience your listener will relate to. E.g. the pleasure of travelling alone, compared to with a large group etc. Sometimes travel can be tiresome if you are alone, so people may be desperate for a little conversation to stimulate them a little. If you are tactful, you can get someone talking until the cows come home.

16.Introduce yourself. Explain why you are doing it. E.g. simply to make conversation, as a social experiment, or to pass the time. If you feel confident, you can simply present yourself with your name and a little something about yourself. In this way, you are able to be honest and tell them you simply love chatting to people as you travel and visit new places. If they don’t want to chat, then they can just politely tell you or make a discreet excuse.

I hope you enjoyed this lesson. Follow my website for regular updates.


© Dominic Christopher Elliston and 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Dominic Christopher Elliston and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.