Many people, including myself, if they had to start a conversation with a complete stranger will struggle. There are situations where we need to do this and there is no reason why we can't practice with anyone. All our friends were once strangers.
Start a conversation today (image from pixbay.com/en)
Time: 1 minute to start a conversation and a lifetime of friendship before it ends
A friendly face
A stranger to talk to
Look at a group of people on a bus or train. If you had to choose which of them you would go up and talk to you will quickly see how someone dresses, their body language and general demeanour makes a big difference to whether we feel that we could approach them or not.
Basically look people in eye, nod, smile and generally be open and you will find that you are more likely to be approached.
Be captain obvious
Talk about what is around you because it is an experience that we all share. Be positive though, don't turn up and complain as this can be a conversation killer.
For example, talk about the weather, the location or something that you can both see. But say something positive such as "Wow, it was really raining heavily this morning" not "What terrible weather".
Use the basics
There are many situations where it is easy to start a conversation. First day at university you ask people "Where are you from?", if you are travelling "Where are you going?" at a business networking event "What do you do, what is your business?".
Start conversations with the basic questions (image from pixbay.com/en)
Don't be scared of using basic questions.
Use conversation gifts
Imagine someone comes up to you and asks "How are you?", if your response is just "Fine", guess what, the conversation is over.
Instead give them a gift to keep the conversation. Eg, instead of "Fine", say "Good because I was able to finish work early today", "Tired because I was up early".
Each of these answers makes it easier to provide a followup. Another example would be "That is a nice tie" or "I like your shoes". Saying "Thank you" kills the conversation but if you says "Thanks, they were on special" or "I am glad you like them, they were a gift" and so on, you are giving a gift to the other person to keep talking.
Make a connection
Star signs a great pickup line, because you can use them to make a connection, eg "Or you a Pisces and I am Scorpio so..."
Make a connection (image from pixbay.com/en)
We are naturally attracted to people that we have some sort of connection with. Maybe they are from the same city or country, perhaps they follow the same sport team or have the same hobby.
This means you have to advertise your interests or background. For example, when my mother went to Zimbabwe she bought me a lovely t-shirt. So often I would be wearing this shirt while walking down the road and have complete strangers from Zimbabwe come up to me and start a conversation.
Learn to listen
I like to do this in communication skills classes. I would have them pair up and each pair must have a conversation where one person talks and the other only listens and is not allowed to talking.
Learn to listen better (image from pixbay.com/en)
It seems a little odd, however with just the right body language you can make the other person feel that they need to keep talking.
If you don't like talking, become the world's best listener, and with only a few words you can have long conversations with people.
Ask for help or an opinion
Related to listening is to simply ask people what they think. Ask which bus to take, or whether they think your tie matches your shirt. It doesn't matter, not only is this a great conversation starting most people like it when others ask their opinion.
All of these are just skills that you should practice. Go out and start a conversation with a complete stranger. Don't worry, not all attempts will succeed, but you can meet some interesting people doing this.
Increase your circle of friends (image from pixbay.com/en)