I get it. “So, what do you do?” is often the first thing you think to say when chatting up someone new, but it doesn’t have to be the first thing that flies out of your mouth. In fact, it totally shouldn’t be!
Yes, there’s a time and place to ask all of the stock questions, but right out of the gate? No way! The subjects aren’t terrible, but when you phrase them like everyone else has since the beginning of time, people start to lose interest (hint: that’s the opposite of what we’re going for).
Ditch the standard lines and swap them for ones that’ll spark a convo that’s way better than average.
6 Hideously Boring Conversation Starters (& What to Say Instead)
#1. “So, what do you do?”
As soon as this comes out of someone’s mouth, you can practically hear brains shutting down all over the place. BOOOOORING! Everyone wants the deets, but there are a million more interesting ways to approach this.
Say this instead: “What are you passionate about doing?”
Not everyone is stoked about their job, but everyone has something they absolutely love to do. A genuinely effortless conversation happens when someone’s actually excited to share, and everyone loves to share what makes them light up inside.
Bonus: If you struggle with social anxiety, this is a great move. They’ll happily chat and you can relax and listen. 🙂
#2. “What brings you here?”
Sure, you’re both standing there, so you might as well ask what force of nature brought you through the door, right?
Mmmm, maybe not.
Say this instead: “What are you hoping to get out of attending?”
This line is geared towards events like conferences, meetups or professional networking groups where people have various reasons for coming (unlike a party where you come because… well, it’s a party and who turns down free food). By doing a little digging and finding out what their goals are, you not only open the door for a really interesting conversation, but you’ll go a long way towards building a more solid connection.
Another great swap: “Do you know anyone here or are you flying solo?” This angle can land you a win in one of two ways.
First, if the person came with friends, you can snag an introduction and get to know more people really quickly. However, if they don’t know anyone, you can buddy up and get to know people together in a less intimidating way. You win no matter how they respond!
#3. “Any plans for this weekend?”
Everyone likes the weekend, but not everyone likes to load up their schedule. Try something that won’t just elicit a “yes” or “no” answer.
Say this instead: “What’s your favorite way to unwind?”
Unwinding is guaranteed to be on everyone’s weekend agenda, so build camaraderie by finding out what relaxes them most. After they answer, be sure to keep the conversation going by offering up your own relaxation tricks!
#4. “Do you have any hobbies?”
Yes. Yes they do. Don’t ask a question we all already know the answer to. Instead, dive right into the nitty gritty, phrasing it in a way they can’t help but get jazzed about.
Say this instead: “What’s something you’re good at that would surprise people?”
Everyone likes to feel special and cool, so tossing this out will not only prompt an interesting response, but they’ll have fun getting to brag about themselves for a sec. Pro Tip: don’t just gloss over their answer, whatever it is. Remember, they just shared something they’re proud of, so be sure to honor that by sharing in their excitement!
#5. “Weather’s been pretty good/bad, huh?”
It’s the classic, stereotypical lame-o line, but you’re sooo better than that.
Say this instead: “If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?”
Globetrotting is the ultimate fantasy, so why not tap someone’s inner wanderlust for the sake of a great conversation? People LOVE talking about things they’d do “if they could do anything” so this is sure to spark a fun dream sesh. Weather included. 😉
#6. “What’s your favorite food?”
Valiant effort, my friend, but let’s shake this one up, ok?
Say this instead: “What’s your all-time, ultimate guilty pleasure treat?”
Same basic concept, but the second line evokes way more excitement than the first!
Instead of throwing out a surface level response like “Umm, maybe pizza? Yeah, pizza,” your conversation partner will be intrigued and want to dig deep for an awesome response. Mega score.
And who knows – all that food talk may land you at some fun local spot stuffing your faces together. Talk about the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Aaand they’re hooked.
While everyone else reaches for the same textbook openers, whip out one of these twists and you’ll instantly level up the conversation. Not only will you have a better time, but you’ll be remembered as interesting, clever, and an outside-the-box thinker, and that, my friend, will win you points every time.
P.S. Want strategies for implementing these ideas so you can build smooth, confident and fun conversations? Download my exclusive 36-page guide for free here. It’s the social secret weapon you can’t go one more day without!