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Conversation Starters & Ideas

May 9, 2009
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conversationWhether you are trying to get the attention of someone you’d like to date or are new to dating someone, having a few conversation starters and ideas can help break the ice a little and get the ball rolling. Even if you’re in a relationship, you can still have fun with these conservation questions for sparking a discussion between you and your partner that you probably haven’t had in awhile. Who knows? You might even be able to recreate some of that “first-date when we met butterflies” you felt in the beginning of your relationship.

The goal of all first date icebreakers is to avoid the “sound of crickets chirping” which means you don’t want a silent stare from the person you are trying to talk to – you want them to respond and continue the conversation with you. Getting a blank stare from the person you want to talk to is not usually a good sign. You also don’t want to be the only person talking and the other person saying a lot of one word answers like “Yeah…”

The best way to avoid this is to ask open ended questions. Open ended questions are the type that invite a detailed response or require a little thought before answering. You don’t need to start a deep philosophical discussion, but you do want to engage the person you are talking to.

You’ll also want to avoid becoming an interrogator. Most people do not like being drilled – so remember, you’re not a detective. Asking a couple of questions is good – but asking 30 questions might make the other person think you’re a little neurotic. Usually natural conversation will flow after just one or two question has been asked – and if it doesn’t it might be time to move on.

Here are some ideas and topics to help start a conversation near you:

1. A Compliment: Most people will have something you can compliment them on. Maybe it’s their shoes, maybe it’s their shirt, maybe you really like the way they smile or you overheard them tell a joke that sounded really funny. At any rate, giving someone a compliment can usually lead to more conversation.

2. Sports: Have a local sports team? Notice some sports team on their clothes? Game playing on the big screen at the restuarant? These are all great openers to talk about why you like sports – or don’t like them.

3. Movies/TV: Whether you talk about the latest DVD releases, the movies playing in the theatre or just what you think the outcome of a reality tv show like survivor will be, these are all good conversation starters. Even if they don’t know about the show you are talking about, you can always turn this one around to something they are interested in.

4.Useless Facts and Trivia: Having useless facts and trivia can sometimes work out as a way to break the ice. You for example could see ketchup on the table and say rattle out some facts about ketchup. Will your date be impressed by your knowledge? Probably not, but it would open the door for you to start talking about other useless information both of you know and the weird things you learned in school.

5. Animals: Have a dog? A cat? Pet tarantula? Your pet can become an instant conversation starter when you are out meeting people, or you can always talk to your date about the different kinds of pets you like or silly things yours does.

6. Hypothetical Situations: If you had a crush on someone you worked with, you could ask him or her “If you could be anywhere else right now, where would you be?” since it’s a safe assumption that most people would rather not be at work. Asking different hypothetical questions appropriate to the person/situation can be an interesting way to get to know each other better.

7. Use Props: Chances are you’ve got some strange things in your wallet, purse, or pockets. You can either make it a habit to carry around something that sparks conversation, such as book, or you can go by with just something you happen to have.

8. Comparisons: It can be a fun way to get to know someone by comparing two things and asking what they like better. For example, you could ask “Do You Like Coke or Pepsi better? Why?” This works for everything from movies to music to colors to seasons – an endless list really. This is one that could go on all night if you take turns asking the questions.

9. List Three: This is another one, like the comparisons, could end up going on all night. Basically you can start out with something such as “List three things you need when driving” or “three people you admire” or “three places you want to visit someday” or “three things you hate to do”. Again, if you take turns this can turn into a fun game to play with one another. (Works good for entertaining kids too for all the parents out there reading this!)

10. Draw Something: Sometimes drawing or writing something can make it easier to talk to someone. You can write them a note, or tell them you are a portrait artist and draw their picture, even if you do end up just drawing a stick figure. You can always play games like Tic Tac Toe or hangman too to get the ball rolling.

Things You Shouldn’t Talk About: Everybody has a few things that really shouldn’t be talked about on a first date or when you first meet. Creepy stuff, like “How do you like being locked in a closet?” or “How would you like to die?” would probably not be a good thing to talk about. Religion, politics, medical conditions, bad memories, past relationship history and anything else that’s generally perceived as negative by the general public are all better things left for when you are ready to start seriously dating one another.

Hopefully this list of ten things will give you some good ideas to get the two of you talking and getting to know each other better – whether you’re just meeting, on that nervous first date, or maybe even have been together for a long time and looking for some new things to talk about. Brainstorming a list of questions or practicing on others can all be good ways to help you feel more comfortable in starting a conversation anywhere, anytime, and with anyone.

Have any other good icebreakers or ideas? Share them in the comments below!

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