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What do you say to start conversation?

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    What do you say to start conversation?

    So, I feel like I need more 'ammo' for starting (and obviously continuing) conversations with stranger that I think are interesting. That's why I'm asking you all: "What would you say/do to start a conversation with a stranger you find interesting."

    Of course, if you do a quick lil' google search you can already find a lot, but it's not so much about what is on google, but more about what you do yourself and what has helped you personally.

    It doesn't have to be about just talking to one stranger. It could also be about what things you pay attention to when you join a conversation between a group of strangers. What would be your tips and tricks.

    What I personally do, for example:
    • Find something in the direct environment that I have in common with the stranger. Perhaps we're looking at the same show, or see the same thing happening. Maybe they have some tattoos of something I recognise or they seem to enjoy the same kind of music I do.
    • Ask about things they seem to care about / have a lot of interest in. Ask them what they are doing here, and if it's a party I can ask about who they know here or how they know the host.
    And in groups it's often about timing. You wait until the people in the group are talking, but I prefer often jumping in when people are laughing, look surprised, or when they are telling an interesting story. I can then ask something like 'oh, what happened' and worm my way in.

    I'm curious to see what you all have in store.

    "Distress, whether psychic, physical, or intellectual, need not at all produce nihilism.
    Such distress always permits a variety of interpretations."


    I have a unique situation that won't be very helpful to others. But I will post anyway, since it's also about ourselves, and I might be able to abstract more general advice from it.

    So... I speak in a whisper. Everywhere I go, people ask, "What's wrong with your voice?" or "Are you sick?" - Waiters, cashiers, passersby, etc. It can get annoying having to answer this same question 4 times in a row every time I go grocery shopping. Or 20 times if I'm out on the town. I don't know if people are equally rude in other parts of the world - I live in New York, the land of the blunt. But people constantly ask me.

    So, that is a conversation starter. Some people are rude about it, like making fun of me, whispering back. Sometimes I'm able to come up with a clever insult in return, or an answer that upsets them. Like "I'm a prostitute and I choked on a customer last night." Then I indulge in staring while their face contorts. But most of the time, if someone is rude I let it go; if they persist in being rude (which happens more often than you'd think) I let them know it, or I just walk away. But out of any 10 people who ask, 9 are fun and well intentioned. So if I want to start a conversation, it's incredibly easy. If the person looks interesting I tell them I used to be a singer and how I sang through my whisper, and how much I grew as a person. Then they almost invariably open up about themselves, their dreams and aspirations, their friends who are sick but fought through it, etc.

    Aside from my voice -- even before I lost it -- I got a lot of attention because of my outfits. I always have something cool on my shirt, a nice necklace, flashy earrings, cool edgy boots, or something of that nature. I'm expressive. Lately I haven't wanted to be bothered in covid era, and I also gained weight and don't want to buy a new wardrobe. So I go out in plainer clothes, and even despite my voice I still get way less attention (which is what I wanted. The last thing I need in covid era is tons of people getting upset when they hear my voice because they think I'm sick and contagious). But normally my outfits also draw more attention. But then as soon as they comment on the outfit, then I respond, they hear my voice and the conversation goes to that. So it gets personal real fast. People don't usually accept "I'm just sick" or "Don't worry, I'm not sick, this is just my voice." They continue pressing until I give a longer answer. But this means that when I give it, they're just as eager to open up about something genuine, which is definitely my cup of tea, rather than random shallow chit chat. It's not that I have something against chit chat, I'm just horrible at it.

    So the most advice I can extrapolate from this is - if you want to make friends, express yourself visually. Show something on your shirt, your hair style, a cool sticker on your bag, whatever. That's always a conversation starter. If you are "too weird" (like I sometimes tend to be) then it actually intimidates a lot of people, but invites a specific type of people. I used to love doing this. It's like an automatic weeding out of people who aren't similar to me. But if I want to be friendly in a more general way, then I have to keep in mind that a closer-to-normal outfit with a touch of something fabulous is what does the trick.

    I'm not really outgoing enough, knowledgeable or interesting enough to think of random new things to say to people. So I do much better socially if I set myself up in such a way that THEY ask ME questions, and then I'm very open. I have turned a lot of negative situations around, like commentary on my voice or "that's weird" about clothes - and turned it into a lot of laughing or a deep, personal bonding session. I'm sorry I don't have much advice to offer on how to be the "starter" - but if you want to draw people to you, maybe that will help a little. (Or if anyone does who reads this.)


    • Vive
      Vive commented
      Editing a comment
      Haha, nice, doing it reverse. Expressing yourself visually en standing out, which makes people get interested in you so they start the conversation. That's also a good way of going about it.

    • Animal
      Animal commented
      Editing a comment
      Hehe. Glad it was helpful. I am "good at" opening up and drawing out "real" things about people. But I'm not as good at "just talking." So I think this type of thing has worked for me. I dress the way I do mostly to express things I feel inside, but I'm also aware of the effect it has on others, and it really has helped me to make friends or just to enjoy myself socially in the moment. And, also, to make the RIGHT type of friends, who are interested in similar things or who find my quirks inspiring (and usually those are the same people who I find inspiring in return, since we're both looking for similar fields of inspiration).

    Honestly, with most of my best friends, I just said something along the lines of "Hi, you seem interesting, let's be friends." People find straightforwardness disarming and it'll either work really well or turn them off, but for my part anyway, since this is basically what I'm like as a person, I figure it provides enough solid information for them to decide if they want to take it or leave it. The ensuing conversation can also be fun, especially if they have the nerve to ask what gives you that impression.


      I use a fairly simple formula. A lot of people would consider it a little bit socially autistic, but I don't really care, and 9 times out of 10, it gets the job done if the person is worth talking to.

      me: "what up"
      them: "what are you up to?"
      me: "thinking about (insert what I'm actually thinking about here)"
      them: "oh wow, tell me about that"

      I've made it a little less autistic over the years by scanning their more likely interests in advance that we might have in common, but the basic formula is the same. ex: if they look like a chad and have sporty body language, they'll probably be more interested in my thoughts on working out than on the last anime I watched or the series on the history of the Byzantine Empire I'm listening to. Likewise, if they look like an opera queen and speak in colorful, poetic language, they'll probably be less interested in my workout routine.

      Even if it doesn't work, there is a failsafe to salvage the conversation without it being too awkward.
      them: "oh, um...I don't know a lot about that"
      me: "oh? what are you thinking about then?"

      At this point, one of three things will happen:
      1) they directly provide you a topic to role with
      2) their answer contains an area of interest you can talk about/allow them to talk about.
      3) if their answer is flat, they didn't want to talk to you anyway. if it's option 3, you didn't fail, they just don't want to talk, and they'll probably appreciate the fact that you took the hint and let them go on their way.