12 ways to start a conversation!
6 topics to begin a conversation!
4 things to avoid when starting a conversation!
You’ve seen it – articles providing miracle topics to jump-start a conversation. I’ve got nothing against them; most have good pointers.
But what if I said there’s a better way?
What if introverts could generate their own topics?
What if introverts could personalize your topics instead relying on canned lines.
What if introverts could make topics interesting rather than topics making them interesting?
I’ll tell you what’s interesting: You.
You see the world through a unique filter – your filter.
There is one of you – 1 in 7 billion. You are your genes, your upbringing, your life experience, your strengths, your weaknesses, and gifts.
You have a unique perspective.
How could you use it to make interesting conversation topics? We’re going to delve into it.
Before we elaborate on the solution, let’s set up the context.
The Issue With Most Conversation Starters
Many articles break down the art of starting a conversation – what topics to delve into, how ostentatious it should be, what topics to avoid.
They’re good articles.
However, their solutions are either generic, specific, or too personal.
Common topics such as,
“This weather is nice today.”
are overused, which makes introverts sound generic.
However, generic topics are often the best to start with because of their application, low-risk and open-endedness.
You’re not going to wow anyone right off the bat with the topic, but you won’t offend anyone and can branch off into different topics (weather -> sports, beach, restaurants, holiday, etc.).
The reason why it reflects poorly on introverts is because:
1. Anybody can come up with that topic.
2. It’s reached cultural vernacular – a conversational tradition often parodied in movies.
Specific topics are mid-risk and harder to transition from but offer greater potential to build a connection.
The problem is context.
Specific topics apply to specific situations.
If those other articles offer you specific topics, you’ll likely have to memorize and wait until the perfect scenario.
Personal topics are specific questions on hard mode.
This type offers the greatest potential for connection as well as the highest risk of rejection.
I see many articles writing examples such as: “What are your hopes and dreams?”
Imagine, 2 minutes into a conversation with somebody and you ask: “Hey, what’s the meaning of your life?”
I doubt you’ll get a proper answer because you didn’t build rapport.
They don’t know you.
Why should they tell you anything?
These 3 types are an okay foundation to build a topic. However, if it were so easy, topics would naturally flow from your lips.
Nobody is teaching HOW to make interesting conversation topics; Rather, they teach to memorize.
It leads introverts to this site because they wonder, “what makes a topic suitable?”
This type of questioning feeds doubt and hesitation.
I have those doubts also.
Whether walking down the street or schmoozing at parties, my mind works overtime to create topics and screen it to ensure appropriateness.
This blanks the mind. When the mind blanks, you have no idea what to do or say next. You freeze.
That’s why I simplify.
That’s why introverts should simplify.
Talking shouldn’t require a monstrous effort.
Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative.Oscar Wilde
How To Create Interesting Conversation Topics
Through trial and error, I came up with a 2-step process to make topics interesting.
Let’s first select a topic – we’ll choose a simple situation.
As of June 12, 2020, COVID-19 plagues the world.
If you want ignore “social distancing”, this is a fun topic to talk about while inside the grocery store.
MorM stands for micro or macro context.
Adapted from economics, micro refers to a perspective on an individual/smaller/everyday level, while macro is a perspective on a societal/bigger/top-down level.
After selecting a topic, you want to go down either the micro or macro routes. For example,
The micro route:
- Stores closed down/ out of inventory
- Less congestion on road
- Spending more time with the family
The macro route:
- Higher unemployment
- Lockdowns/quarantines over the world
- Stock market meltdown
The micro focuses on a smaller scale, while macro on a larger one.
Out of the two, most people choose the micro route because they draw from individual experiences and everyday lives.
The macro route can create interesting conversation topics (especially among people who think big picture), but either works.
This is where conversation gets interesting.
Introverts get to personalize your topic and add twists.
Similar, to adding sprinkles, chocolate dips, and strawberry syrup to your ice cream, you bring your flavor to the conversation.
The micro route chosen topic: Less congestion on road
“I’ve never been less stressed driving when nobody’s around!”
The macro route chosen topic: stock market meltdown
“This meltdown was a long time coming and needed to happen.”
Personalize from your demeanor.
Add your perspective, ideas, or experience to the subject matter.
Everybody has access to information.
Using the coronavirus as an example, people can read about the stock market, watch videos on the quarantine, see the ghostly highways.
There is nothing extraordinary by talking about them in itself.
What’s interesting are peoples’ opinions.
It adds a human element to faceless topics.
Why do you think pundits are always screaming on TV?
They have a perspective to toss out there and it builds an audience. Here, you just want to make small talk.
People are interested in hearing another perspective and won’t hesitate to let you know what they think as well.
1. Pick a topic
2. Decide to go the Micro or Macro route
What Topic Works Under This System?
Introverts can take a generic, everyday topic and turn it into an enthralling conversation or keep it brief.
Decide how big or small you want to go, then personalize it. You could also take deep topics and trivialize it for the sake of conversation (i.e. God really likes his pandemics, doesn’t he?)
What If Someone Dislikes My Perspective?
As long as introverts follow conversational decorum (i.e. no racism, bigotry, etc.) then everything else is suitable.
If someone melts down over a 2-minute conversation, excuse yourself and move on.
Don’t waste time trying to convince them the validity of your idea or placating their feelings. In my opinion, most people are open-minded and can entertain an idea without accepting it.
It Begins With You
Introverts make interesting conversation topics, not the other way around. In a conformist world, fascinating perspectives are at a premium.
Let it be known.
The first ingredient in conversation is truth, the next good sense, the third good humor, and the fourth wit.William Temple