What You Say To Start A Conversation
By Gene Griessman, Ph.D.
Here’s a great opening question that I’ve used for a long time. It almost never fails. One reason is that it’s more than just a pickup line. It begins a conversation.
Ask this question, with a smile: “Pardon me. Are you good at accepting compliments?”
Generally you will get a smile in return. Most people find compliments irresistible, and when asked this way, there’s a mystery about what will be complimented. The usual response is, “Well, I guess so,” followed by another smile or a little laugh.
That’s good, because it always helps to begin with an exchange of a smile or laughter.
What you then compliment requires forethought, so you must think about it before you ask. If you’re a guy, I recommend avoiding a compliment that could make you sound like a pervert, even though I have heard a few guys get away with a compliment such as, “You’re really a sexy lady.” And few guys will be offended if a girl says, ‘You are one sexy guy.”
Generally it’s far safer to compliment a piece of jewelry she’s wearing, her purse, etc. You can be pretty sure she spent some time thinking about her accessories or what she’s wearing. You are also safe if you compliment her eyes or her hair. And best of all is a compliment about some thoughtful act that you just observed, such as, “What you just did was very courteous, or diplomatic, or kind”
The problem is segueing from the compliment to your next comment. Because all you may get is a “Thank you.” One possibility is, with a smile, to say, “Just who are you?” or “Tell me about you.” If you complimented something that you just saw her/him do, you can ask,”How did you learn to do that?”
If he/she is at all interested, you can probably get to your next comment by listening to her reply carefully, and asking about something that was just said.
Sustaining a conversation requires practice, but there’s one thing for sure. It’s unlikely that you will ever become skillful at keeping a conversation going unless you learn how to get one started.
—Gene Griessman is an award-winning professional speaker, actor, and consultant. His video “Lincoln on Communication” is owned by thousands of corporations, libraries, and government organizations. He has spoken at conventions all over the world. To learn more about his presentations, contact us at 404-435-2225 or firstname.lastname@example.org Learn more about Gene Griessman at presidentlincoln.com and atlantaspeakersbureau.com
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