Ever found yourself wishing you knew how to start a conversation, especially in situations where it matters the most?
For example, you’re at a coffee shop, and you notice someone interesting sitting a few tables away. Yet, the weight of that initial “hello” feels a whole lot heavier than the coffee mug you’re holding.
Starting a conversation—whether it’s with a potential partner, a coworker, or even a stranger—is an art form. And, undeniably, it’s one that many of us find challenging.
But with the help of Mindvalley experts, you’ll have the know-how so that you’re never at a loss for words again.
How to Start a Conversation On a Date
The dating world is like the internet—you put yourself out there, and you don’t always know what you’re going to get. And then there’s the wonder of what you’re going to talk about.
From families to jobs to likes and dislikes, there are plenty of topics to cover. However, the Love & Money Survey from The Balance found that 44% of daters say that talking about money ruins the chances of a second date. (So note to self: keep that conversation for another day.)
According to Keith Ferrazzi, a leading networking expert and trainer of Mindvalley’s Mastering Authentic Networking Quest, “every conversation you have is an invitation to reveal the real you.”
So knowing how to start a conversation on a date can be mighty useful.
How to start a conversation with a girl
Imagine you’re in the shoes of Albert Brennaman from Hitch—a bit clumsy, a whole lot nervous, and trying to win the attention of someone like Allegra Cole. It’s daunting, isn’t it?
However, even if you feel like you’re walking on a tightrope when thinking about how to start a conversation with a girl, there are tips you can use to make sure you don’t topple over. And while you may not have a dating coach like Alex Hitchens to guide you, you can still master the art of the approach.
Here’s how to not be socially awkward and make a lasting first impression:
1. Be memorable
“How do you want people to feel before, during, and after interacting with you?” That’s the question Vanessa Van Edwards, a behavioral scientist and trainer of Mindvalley’s Magnetic Charisma Quest, poses.
According to her, most of our opening lines are negative, even if it’s by accident. These are the “Ugh, traffic was terrible” or “This weather is unbearable!” or “It’s been ‘a day’” conversations.
“When you say those words, it actually makes people feel more stressed, busy, terrible, bad,” she explains.
What you can do: Do something surprising. It can be something small, but make it unexpected.
Small, unexpected things create beautiful, authentic ways to surprise. — @vvanedwards
For example, instead of asking them if they’d like to go grab some coffee, invite them out to get a taco instead. Or a waffle. Or a lemonade.
The point is, it’s something unexpected, which then makes it memorable.
2. Indulge in conscious conversations
Now, shallow chitchat isn’t the aim of striking up conversations with a girl. It’s crafting a list of things to talk about and speaking them from the heart—what Neelam Verma calls “conscious communication.”
“It’s heart-centered communication that’s expressed with kindness and clarity,” explains the founder of Integrity Dating and trainer of Mindvalley’s Finding Love With Integrity Dating Quest. “It requires you to be intentional, vulnerable, and respectful so you can create a safe space to connect.”Conscious conversations lead to conscious relationships. — @neelamverma Click To Tweet
What you can do: This interpersonal communication requires you to share your own dreams, desires, and thoughts first. And then ask questions about them. It’s like saying, “Hey, here’s a piece of my world. What about you?”
“When you dive right in, you ask the most important questions first, and you not only honor your time and energy but also your dates,” says Neelam. And that can be a dating game-changer because you’re aligning your paths right from the get-go.
3. Use the “steeple” gesture
Your body language accounts for the majority of what you say. And one of the most powerful gestures you can use is something called “steeple.”
According to Allan Pease, “Mr. Body Language” and trainer of Mindvalley’s Mastering Body Language: Truth, Lies, Love & Power Quest, here’s why it’s so effective:
- Confidence. It signals to others that you are in control and have the answers.
- Positive attitude. It makes you feel like you’ve “got this” and can handle the situation.
Be mindful of the height at which you hold the steeple, though. For men, specifically, holding it high is seen as confident and in charge. However, Allan warns against holding it in front of your zipper “for clear reasons that don’t work very well” (if you catch the drift).
How to do it: Lightly touch the fingertips of one hand to the other, creating a steeple-like shape.
How to start a conversation with a guy
Men aren’t the only ones who panic when it comes to conversation starters. Women, too, find it daunting.
Take the shy Casey Sedgewick from Hitch, for instance. (That’s the coworker and best friend of Sara Melas.) You get the feeling that she often finds herself in situations where she wants to strike up a conversation with an intriguing guy, but her effective communication skills aren’t quite up to par.
But whether you’re a Casey, Sara, or Allegra, you can overcome those initial jitters with these tips on how to start a conversation with a guy.
1. Master your tone
Did you know that it’s not always about what you say, but how you say it?
Research even shows that your tone of voice has a huge impact on the person you’re talking to. For example, one study found that a friendly tone can enhance the listener’s impression of you.
As Linda Clemons, a body language expert and trainer of Mindvalley’s Body Language for Dating & Attraction Quest, says, “Your words are a small part. It doesn’t matter what you say. Your nonverbals will get in the way.”
What you can do: Start by becoming aware of your natural speaking patterns. And practice switching up your tone with different emotions.
It’s also important to seek feedback. This can help you continually refine your communication skills to leave a positive impression on others.
2. Mirror with your body language
He laughs; you laugh. He leans forward; you lean forward.
Here’s what’s happening: You’re sending subconscious signals that say, “Hey, we’re on the same wavelength.” And this is mirror body language at its finest.We mirror other people’s body language as a way of bonding, getting accepted by them and creating rapport. — Allan Pease Click To Tweet
What you can do: Next time you’re chatting with a guy, pay attention to his body language. Is he leaning in? Mimic that. Does he use his hands a lot? Go ahead; do some expressive hand-talking. Is he chill and relaxed? Well, you get the idea—stay cool too.
The thing is, don’t be too obvious about it. Wait a few seconds before you mirror his moves. You want it to feel natural, not like a synchronized dance routine.
And remember, mirroring is for positive vibes only. Skip the negative stuff.
3. Listen with an open heart
Distractions and quick judgments are constantly part of our lives. As Katherine Woodward Thomas, the author of best-selling Calling In ‘The One’ and trainer of the Mindvalley Quest with the same name, puts it: “When you consider how often we’re interrupted, how much we are expected to know, and how frequently we are pulled in different directions, it’s really understandable that we often turn off our listening abilities.”
So, it goes without saying, active listening is an important part of the formula for long-lasting relationships.
What you can do: When you listen without covert agendas, you open yourself up to meaningful interactions that can lead to unexpected and genuine connections.
Remember, love often arrives through the gateway of authentic relatedness, so slow down, be present, and let your heart guide your interactions. Listening without an agenda is a powerful way to attract love and deepen connections with those around you.
How to Start a Conversation With a Stranger
The word “stranger” often carries a cloud of mystery. But every friend was once one, right?
The art of engaging with someone new lies in finding the balance between curiosity and respect. Here’s how to start a conversation with a stranger.
1. Speak with clarity
Before initiating any conversation, take a moment to clarify in your mind what you hope to achieve with the interaction.
“You have to first understand, from the very beginning, what do you want to achieve?” says Lisa Nichols, the founder of Motivating the Masses and trainer of Mindvalley’s Speak and Inspire Quest. “You want to get clear on the results you want to create.”
Even if it’s a simple conversation or a deeper one, approach it with the intention to inspire, uplift, or convey your message rather than merely seeking to impress or convince.
Remember, authenticity, transparency, and conviction in your words are contagious. It can help you connect more deeply with others, especially with a stranger.
What you can do: Consider not just your own objectives, but also what positive outcomes or feelings you want the other person to experience. Starting with the end in mind helps you speak with a purpose and create a meaningful connection.
2. Connect with generosity
One direct path to go from stranger to friend? Generosity.
“Don’t expect that people will instantly just lay out generosity to you until you have led with generosity,” says Keith in his Master Authentic Networking Quest. So offering a hand or some friendly help right off the bat is like opening the door to connectionville.
This act of kindness certainly fosters a positive impression. But the thing is, people dig it when you’re nice. What’s more, it’s like an unspoken deal—you scratch their back, and they’re likely to scratch yours.
What you can do: “Your job is to lead with generosity,” Keith advises. “Lay out a platter for people but don’t be the kind of person that says, ‘Oh, by the way, if I give you this, I want this back.’ That’s a transaction; that’s not a relationship. You will lose if you lead in that way.”
So, remember, when you’re diving into a chat with a new buddy, toss out a little generosity and watch the magic happen.
3. Use warm and positive words
Whether you’re just looking for a chat, for networking, or what have you, positive language is your secret weapon. It sets the tone for a positive interaction.
“The kinds of words you use for others are gifts,” Vanessa, in her Magnetic Charisma Quest, points out. “When you use positive raves, charismatic words, warm words, competent words, those are gifts to help others be their best and most charismatic self.”
What you can do: Instead of drowning in the sea of complaints, ride the wave of possibilities by turning problems into exciting challenges. Be the maestro of compliments, highlighting your strengths and the awesomeness in others.
And remember, keep the vibe sunny and cheerful. Sprinkle your talks with words that feel like a warm hug on a chilly day.
How to Start a Conversation Over Text
Conversations have gone digital. Emojis, acronyms, memes, and such are part of everyone’s everyday vernacular. So learning how to start a conversation over text should absolutely be highlighted.
1. Be authentic and vulnerable
You may have heard this before, but it’s still important to highlight: authenticity and vulnerability are keys to building meaningful connections. Especially when it’s done digitally when you’re not face-to-face with the other person, these two can help set a positive tone and make the interaction more meaningful.
“I have noticed that, sure, I can always be on and I can be telling people ideas, etc.,” says Keith in his Mindvalley Quest. “But every once in a while, if I just step back and I tell people how I’m feeling, if I tell people what a thought I had today… that could be very well received by the people that are following you, so be authentic and be vulnerable.”
What you can do: When starting a conversation over text, consider sharing your thoughts, feelings, or experiences genuinely. This can create a more personal and engaging conversation from the outset.
2. Create genuine connections
Chances are, you’ve heard the phrase, “Sliding into the DMs.” While it’s mainly used for flirting or dating purposes, it can also be used for things like businesses as well.
“DM is actually more intimate, in my opinion, than even emails,” says Gerard Adams, The Millennial Mentor™ and trainer of Mindvalley’s The Science of Personal Branding Quest. “And so just know that it’s an awesome opportunity, and it’s free. It’s a free way for you to connect with people.”
So when you initiate a conversation with someone over text, focus on serving and building a genuine connection rather than immediately trying to sell or promote something.
What you can do: Begin with an authentic and friendly message, perhaps acknowledging something positive about them or offering value relevant to their interests.
As the conversation progresses, show interest in their goals, challenges, and desires. Be curious and ask questions.
3. Be a kindness warrior
Who doesn’t love a sprinkle of kindness, right? This simple gesture can have a big impact. It’s like the secret sauce to make your text conversations go from meh to amazing.
Research even shows that doing a generous thing for someone not only gives the receiver a burst of happiness; it gives the giver a burst as well.Kindness has all kinds of benefits for us. — @vvanedwards Click To Tweet
So set the mood right from the beginning. It instantly creates a friendly and inviting atmosphere, making the other person more eager to respond and engage in the conversation.
What you can do: Look for opportunities for kindness, no matter how small or big.
“Start every email with something positive,” Vanessa suggests. “Go on LinkedIn and highlight people’s great work. Send check-in texts. Write recommendations on LinkedIn or Facebook. Write something nice on your best friend’s social media.”
Great Conversations Start With You
Communication isn’t a tricky business, not as one might think. Every word, every nod, every smile has the power to connect, resonate, and foster relationships.
If you want to learn more about how to start a conversation, you can find guidance from Mindvalley experts. Keith Ferrazzi, Neelam Verma, Vanessa Van Edwards, Gerard Adams, Allan Pease, Linda Clemons, and Lisa Nichols are just some of the many.
And the few first lessons of their quests are available to you if you’re interested in refining your conversational prowess. All you have to do is sign up for a Mindvalley account—it’s for free.
The thing is, every lesson is a step closer to your greatness. So take it and welcome in.
Images generated on Midjourney.