Speaking to people you don’t know is difficult for most. They become nervous and worried that they won’t make a good impression. Worry less about the impression you might make and realize that the person you are speaking to is just as uncomfortable as you are when talking to someone new.
Preparing for this can be done, and a little preparation can make the act of starting a conversation easier on your nerves. Just like you, the person you are speaking with is meeting someone for the very first time. Neither of you knows anything about each other. You have no idea about hobbies or interests, no knowledge of pet peeves or odd quirks. You could have mutual friends or perhaps were introduced through a friend. Maybe you go to the same gym or coffee shop. Already, you have so many things you two can talk about it’s a bit less scary now isn’t it?
Here is where you start. Get some easy to remember ice breaker type questions. An ice breaker is something to help you jump start a conversation. Once the conversation starts to move along, just remember to ask questions about what the other person has said to you. This helps you create a bond and sends the relationship with this person down the path to friendship. Here are some general questions to ask to help you on your way.
Is your week going well?
Where do you work?
What do you do there?
Have you been working there a long time?
Do you like it?
What type of music do you like?
What’s your favorite artist or band?
What are your hobbies?
Do you play any sports?
Where are you from?
This may seem like too many questions to remember. You don’t need them all. Pick a few and remember to listen to the person you are speaking with. The answers to these questions will allow you to ask follow-up questions, and the conversation will flow naturally without having to resort to more mundane questions. As the conversation evolves, you won’t need to use generic questions but can focus more on the person. From there it’s easy.