In today’s world, meeting strangers is a common experience.
You always meet strangers while commuting through a bus, a subway or a train, in airplanes when flying from one destination to another and while attending events, seminars or while waiting in queues.
Even though most people today resort to remaining engaged in tech gadgets during this time and avoid conversation with strangers, many of us still can’t help being quiet.
From what we observe, we sometimes get inspired from the outer personality and think that we can click with each other and form a new friendship with total strangers.
Due to this, we feel the want to talk about something, make a new connection and get into an interesting conversation with that fellow next to us.
Getting into a conversation can be a great way to know any stranger and avoid passing time feeling bored.
However, this is your side of the story and what you want.
Contrary to this, there is absolutely no guarantee whether the other person would also want to do the same as well.
Why do people avoid talking to strangers?
Many people avoid getting into conversations with strangers because of two main reasons.
First is the simple principle of ‘Stranger Danger’ which we all are taught and reminded of repeatedly from our childhood.
Second is the common belief that conversations with strangers can be boring and sometimes even intensely annoying.
You might hear your friends and family members talk about things like, ‘So the other day I had this strange conversation with the person that I was travelling with….BLAH-BLAH’.
How to break the ice and get started?
So the real question is what to do to break the ice and get the other person talking with you?
You will need to learn two things to get the other person started.
First, learn ways by which you can begin a conversation without sounding strange.
Of course, you cannot ask someone directly to talk to you just because you are getting bored and want to pass the time.
What if the other person isn’t feeling the same as you are.
Second, you need to start with things that make you sound interesting and can make the other person talk about freely and comfortably without feeling any harm or humiliation.
What’s in this article?
In this article, we talk about ways on how to start a conversation with a stranger.
But as we already hinted in the above passages, this isn’t enough.
Hence we have also compiled a list of 70 interesting questions to ask the other person once you get them onboard.
Tips to start a conversation with a stranger
By following the tips, ideas and conversation pickup lines in this section of the article, you will be able to start a conversation with any person no matter wherever you are and with whoever you are.
But before you read these tips, remember that every situation and surrounding is governed and limited by a certain scope.
So while we do say that these tips are suitable for any place and person, it still remains a matter of your judgement to decide whether to start a conversation or not.
1. Try to observe what the other person is doing
Aside from being the most daunting thing that we could ever ask any of our readers to do, start observing the other person.
Do it in a way that does not give the other person goosebumps.
Observe what he/she is doing. They might be reading some article, listening to music or simply audio or watching a video, etc.
The reason for observing the other person is to get any clues of common interest with which you can start a conversation.
Finding common grounds will not only help in getting into a conversation to pass time, but can also be the beginning of a lifelong friendship.
2. Pick a topic from something that you both share
For example, while travelling in a train or an airplane, every passenger is served with the same meal or a sleep kit.
You can start off by making a comment about anything that the railway line or the airline has provided to entertain you during the journey.
If you frequently travel, you can compare these things with those that you got while travelling prior to this trip or against things provided by another airline.
3. Start with close ended questions
In order to get the idea of whether the other person is likely to get into a conversation with a stranger or not, start by asking a close ended question.
A close ended question is a question that can only be answered with a ‘Yes” or ‘No’ or some other set of multiple choices.
Look at how the other person responds; note his/her attitude while doing it.
Does he nod only or speak?
It is possible that the other person might have been waiting to start a conversation themselves but didn’t have the courage to do so.
Also, another important thing to do is to wait for a bit before asking the second or a follow-up question.
This way you encourage the other person to add a bit more details to their initial answer of ‘Yes” or ‘No’.
Many people like to clarify situations even if not specifically asked to do so.
This may be because they are trying to make a good first impression on the other person.
4. Respond or react to what the other person just said
It is possible that the other person remarks or reacts inadvertently on some issue. Do not keep silent when this happens.
Grab this opportunity to respond and react back in any manner that can be deemed as appropriate and can promote a conversation.
5. Introduce yourself immediately
Just as you get into a conversation through any means, the second most important thing to do is to introduce yourself.
Exchange names and some basic details like what you do and where you are heading or for what purpose.
List of 70 good and simply interesting questions to ask any stranger for beginning a conversation and get to know them
Now that you know how to start a conversation with a fellow stranger, here is a list of 70 interesting and simple questions to talk about and get to know them.
For your ease, we have divided these questions into a few categories.
Generalized Personal Level Questions
We begin with a list of generalized personal level questions.
This means asking questions that actually are personal but you ask them in a generalized manner.
It is just like trying to observe something or someone from a reputable distance without even nearing the boundary line.
By asking these generalized personal level questions, you can get to know the other person’s personality and likes and dislikes.
- How do you like to spend your free time?
- Is that any specific category audio that you are listening to or is it just some music?
- Oh, so you like watching ‘this kind’ of movies to pass your time?
- Hey, have you watched this movie’s sequel or the latest teaser?
- So, what brings you here?
- Would you like to have something to eat or drink?
- If in a queue and you have to leave for something important, you can ask someone to take care of your spot and not let anyone take your reservation? When back, thank them and start a conversation.
- Whose podcasts do you love listening most?
- Do you often take light meals when outside or it is just now?
- While in a bus or train or subway, you can offer someone your seat and begin a conversation by asking where they were heading?
- You can also ask to borrow something that isn’t quite very personal. For example, ask for a magazine, book or newspaper that they are carrying.
- If it’s a seminar or workshop and you missed some portion of it, ask the person sitting next to you to share his notes with you?
- Without causing any interruption in their activity and if it’s a break time during this workshop or seminar, you might also ask them to repeat explain some point that you missed or couldn’t understand in the first place.
- You can pass a remark about any extreme weather conditions.
- You can also ask or share the weather forecast and how would the temperature remain for the next few days?
- You can ask about how long the person has been travelling or attending the seminar?
- You can also ask about anything that they specifically like about the place you have met?
- If you are visiting a new place, perhaps you can ask for any famous restaurant or tourist attraction?
- While standing in a long queue, start a conversation by asking the other person about when the facility closes or what to do if you miss an appointment today?
- You can also make a guess by asking if you have met before with the same person or not?
- If you are regular at something but haven’t seen the other person before, you can ask them about it as well?
- You can ask about their favorite hobby for passing time, if you see them playing some video game on their smartphone.
- If the other person tells you that they had a terrible experience from being at this place, ask them for alternatives and vice versa.
- You can also ask what they would do if they were to manage the crowd or situation which made you meet.
- Did you take a cab to come here or bus?
- Did you get any suitable parking space?
- How far did you park your vehicle?
- Which route did you take to reach here?
- Which route will you take to return?
- If you are standing in some confined and cut-off room or building, you can also ask about whether their cellular service is still available or not?
- Start a conversation by borrowing their phone to make an urgent call.
- If your smart phone battery is dying, ask for a charger or a power bank and if they know any place where you can find a spare pin?
- Ask them to guide you towards the canteen or cafeteria and ask if they would want something from it in return?
- Ask them to guide towards the restroom?
- You can also ask them the way to the exit of the building and if they are also heading towards it, if you can follow and accompany them during this time?
Questions about their Career or Profession
You can also ask the other person questions about their career.
Starting a conversation about a career can be an excellent way for professionals to build a strong network with other professionals from different fields, careers and organizations.
As a matter of fact related to the professional world, the more people you know and the wider your horizon is, the more updated you can remain and adopt proactive approaches.
- Where do you work?
- Are you on a vacation?
- Are you travelling for work?
- Has your employing organization paid for the entire trip or how much did you have to contribute towards the cost of the seminar, airline ticket, etc.?
- What position level do you currently serve in your company?
- What is the growth scope in your organization?
- How long have you been working for your current employer?
- Are you satisfied with what you are being paid?
- Are you looking for opportunities at the moment?
- Do you like being a workaholic person?
- Does your organization promote late sitting culture?
- What extra perks does your employer offer?
- You can also confirm any strange or weird news or incident that you have heard about the organization that the other person is currently at?
- What was your motivation for choosing this career?
- Why did you leave your previous organization?
- Have you ever made a career switch?
- Is it easy to make a career switch or do you regret doing it?
- Will you rejoin any of your previous employers?
- What keeps you motivated throughout your entire day at the office?
- What is the paid leave or vacation policy of your employer?
- What is the worst career move that you ever made?
- How often should you change an employer i.e. how much time should you work for a single organization?
- Have you ever considered being self-employed?
- Does being self-employed exhausts you very much?
- Are you able to properly balance between your work life and home life or personal life?
- Would you prefer retiring early?
- Where would you like to retire?
- How is the work environment at your office?
- Have you found any reliable and trustable friends at the office?
- Does your office promote teamwork and understand its importance?
- Will you immediately switch your employer for a higher pay and more benefits or ask for a raise before making any decision?
- Would you prefer your spouse to work in the same office as well?
- Do you get time to have lunch or are you completely stressed up once you enter your office?
- Does your employing organization support a culture to relieve its employees from undue work stress and anxiety by offering counselling sessions or any indoor extra-curricular activities?
- Do you consider your current as a way to grow and learn more or are you working in some uniform machine style routine?
If you are wise and fortunate enough to select the right question out of these 70 questions to begin with, slowly and gradually you might become an expert in talking to strangers.
Because as a matter of fact, talking to strangers is also considered as a skill and something that not everyone is confident enough to begin.