Conversation Starters for Better English Skills


This article is originally authored by Sir Neb.

For a non-native English speaking country, the English language is indirectly associated with a certain social class in which people see them as elite and well-educated. A status quo indeed. Despite all these, there comes a time when the feeling of awkwardness between two strangers is obvious. A dead air, if I must put it that way, impedes the very essence of communication. The suppression of communication is very dependent to what we call fear and lack of self-confidence.

People are often tied-up with the thought that they might be rejected to talk to strangers and that it leaves them being quiet instead. We need to get out from our comfort zone and eliminate the aversion to speaking. To practice our communication skills, here are some conversation starters that you can use in talking to others:

1.      Weather and Environment Conditions

“How’s the weather today? I hope it wouldn’t be that (freezing).” Asking the about the weather seemed to be the most popular conversation starter. It usually implies interest for conversation as people love to outdoor activities and weather plays an important role in making that happen. The rest of the ideas will follow once the two people have built rapport with each other.

One good way of building a relationship with others is by knowing their interest. Just the way they look, or with what they wear, you probably get a hint of what you could say next.

2.      Interests

“Wow, that’s a very nice (Armani) watch, where did you buy that?” OR “What do you think about the final season of the NBA league?” It is an opportunity for you to break the ice as some people love to talk about fashion, sports, and other things that interest people. I’m pretty sure they have a lot of things to say. Just make sure that you also have something to say about it, not to be tongue-tied in the middle of the conversation, stunt and have nothing to say.

3.      Current Issues and Trends

I strongly recommend starting the conversation with a light topic. Don’t talk about the economic situations or some deep and random political topics and technological evolution. These will mental freeze your peers especially someone you don’t know yet. You may start with “There’s really a heavy traffic today, do you always come this way? OR "What time is considered the rush hours?” This problem is something that one can relate to. It is a good topic to talk about.

4.       Social Media and Technology

“Oh, do you follow (famous artist) on twitter? They’ll be coming on… for a concert!” This is probably the best time to integrate social media into a conversation. After all, it will serve its purpose. You may want to talk about the new release of an iPhone model, Samsung, or Sony products.

5.      Projects and Weekend plans

In a workplace during break time, it is good to get some little chats with your colleagues about their ongoing projects, if not so confidential, how it is going, etc. “How’s the new project of the team going?” OR “What are your plans this weekend?” Simple chitchats count a lot in killing the awkward silence.

There are a lot of things to say. It is just us who is control of an awkward situation that silence has done. Always remember to have follow-up questions but it is effective if they are unrehearsed for you not to sound scripted. Just make sure not to talk about gender preferences, age, earnings, political views, and religion. They are sensitive topics that we have to be careful about. There are no secrets to reveal on how to become an effective conversationalist. It takes constant practice and confidence. These tips and sample conversation starters are the building blocks of effective communication skills that we need not only in the workplace but also in everyday life situation.