You see a cute guy across from you on the train reading Hemingway. Instead of saying hi to this insanely hot and bookish man, you sneak a pic on your iPhone and post it to Instagram, tagging the Hot Dudes Reading account.
Why so shy? It might be because you have no idea what to say. Actually, according to an adorable ad from Tic Tac, 67 percent of us could use an excuse to talk to a stranger. Whether that’s true or not, we know it can be hard to think on the spot and too often we miss our big chance. You can do better, ladies! With these tips in mind, you can start conversation confidently with the person next to you—and you won’t necessarily need a Tic Tac.
01. BE A LITTLE VULNERABLE.
Show up to a party and realize you recognize absolutely no one? Or you may even genuinely have a bit of social anxiety, holding you back from engaging in conversation. Rather than sulk by the buffet, use your discomfort as an opening line by saying, “I wasn’t sure if I would come tonight, but I am glad I did!” That will engage your party to open up and talk about how they got invited or how they know the host. Why not be honest?
02. LOOK FOR MORE THAN A “YES” OR “NO.”
According to Chris Colin and Rob Baedecker, authors of What To Talk About, focus on asking open-ended questions that will hopefully avoid a one-word answer. Some examples: “If you could teleport by blinking your eyes, where would you go right now?” Or “What are you looking forward to this week?”
03. EVERYONE LOVES A DEAL.
Talk about the best deal you have gotten lately. How fun is it to talk about scoring something on the cheap? Not only that, but it could be an opportunity to ask about their interests. If he spends money on it, it must be something he finds worthy (or worth it.) Even talk about things you recently saw on Groupon or LivingSocial. Everyone loves a deal.
04. GO AHEAD AND TALK TECH.
Does he have his iPhone on his lap? You best believe he has some apps on there. Talking technology is totally within limits, seeing as our phones are always out (or in-hand). Ask him for some suggestions. “I’m looking for some new apps, which ones do you like?” And you probably have a few to share too.
05. DON’T OVERTHINK IT.
Etiquette expert Emily Post said, “Ideal conversation is an exchange of thought, not an eloquent exhibition of wit or oratory.” And so often we feel pressure to say the wittiest thing that it halts us from saying anything at all. Don’t be afraid to ask questions you feel like you should know the answer to or enjoy a completely unoriginal exchange of pleasantries. Who knows where it might lead!
06. EVERYONE LOVES FOOD.
“Any idea where I can find some good sushi here?” is always a great intro. When is it ever bad to discuss where you can find the best meals in your city? Food is a great topic because we all eat! Don’t be afraid to throw out your own recommendations for your favorite (and bonafide best) Thai place in exchange.
07. RUMINATE A LITTLE.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.” Eleanor must be turning in her grave with how much we discuss current events and pop culture. Don’t be afraid to skip the go-to"Is it just me or is it really crowded in here? " and ask them what they think about: the speaker, the concert, something that was trending on your Facebook newsfeed, etc. You have a great mind, so discuss ideas! Even better, the ideas of others. Listened to a great podcast? Relay what you heard. Curious about REM sleep? Fill him in on the latest sleep study you read. Not only can you dive into ideas you’ve been processing, but you can also ask him if he’s been intrigued by anything lately.
08. TALK MUSIC.
So if his headphones are in, he might not be in the mood to talk. But if he takes them out, ask him what he’s listening to. You may have struck gold with a music buff. Maybe you saw his screen when he was flipping through songs—it doesn’t hurt to say, “I love that band!” or “I saw you were listening to Coldplay; have you heard their new single?” Inputting your own music taste might be an awesome way to make a connection.
09. DON’T FREAK OUT—HE IS JUST ANOTHER PERSON.
Stop putting pressure on yourself to create the perfect conversation starter and just introduce yourself. Who knows, he might lead the conversation after all. Sure, we can compile a list and play out in our minds how we see conversation flowing. But maybe he wanted to talk to you first, and will get (and keep) the conversation going.