As an occasional interviewer I always try not to ask the basic questions that everyone expects or assumes you will ask them. People prefer talking about their accomplishments or what makes them happy, over mundane everyday questions.
In my line of work as a Dating/Relationship Talk Show Host and Dating Coach, some of the questions people ask each other really need to be less “in their face” if they want to stand out and eventually meet someone.
These questions below put people on the defensive and are not good opening conversation starters:
- Why are you single? (Really? Ask yourself the same question!)
- What do you do for work? (Boring first obvious question and screams how much money do you make?)
- How old are you really? (Accusing them of lying.)
- Why did you get divorced and why haven’t you remarried? (Because I’m an axe murderer! NOYFB!)
- Are you a sexual person? (oh yes, 5 times a day they reply sarcastically!)
- Come here often? (Seriously people still ask this!)
Regardless of where I am, I usually start conversations with a statement over a question which seems to make the person I am talking to less uncomfortable because they don’t have to answer something personal. If they want to answer with more than a smile or a nod they can, and if they choose not to converse with me that’s OK too. (“We could have had fun but never mind, your loss.”) I just like to be friendly and talk with lots of different people and I am not shy to open the conversation up.
“Is that a pistol…” 😉
It also depends on what environment you are in as to what to talk about. Coffee shop lineups, the gym, a party, a restaurant bar or sporting event all offer a different dynamic but the one thing they all have in common is a social setting. It is the perfect opportunity to meet new people and use your personality to be a little creative.
Choose a conversation/question that compliments the setting you are in:
- “This appetizer is incredible!” “The Chef is wonderful here.” (My son just happens to be a chef, that’s where I got that one from.)
- “I have eaten here many times if you need help choosing something from the menu.”
- “I am not sure I understand why the referee gave the player a penalty” ‘Why do they scratch their…? (OK maybe not.)
- “How do you know the host of the party?”
- “What coffee would you recommend here?”
- At the gym: simply smile and say hi to people next to you. Maybe ask to share the machine with them if you are doing a similar workout. Take off your headphones so you appear more receptive. (always wear deodorant!)
- Driving range: “I am a rookie in the golf world can you quickly tell me which club I should use to try to hit the 150 ft marker?” or compliment them on their style: “That was a fantastic drive!” “I wish I could swing my club like that!” “Come here often?” (just kidding!)
These are pretty basic examples but if you are sincere with your questions or statements, you can’t go wrong. Don’t make it “a line,” make it thought-out conversation piece that has some substance. Be careful not to bother someone who is in “more of a quiet setting” but if they are out socializing, they are fair game to chat with. Go get em’!