How to Start a Conversation When You Have Nothing to Talk About


Starting a conversation can be a challenge if you aren’t sure where to begin, and awkward silences can be uncomfortable. Even if you don’t think you have anything to talk about, there are many ways you can get involved in deep conversation. Look for common topics that you can talk about and be an active listener so the conversation stays engaging. As you get more comfortable talking to others, you'll be able to have a conversation no matter the situation!

Part 1
Starting the Conversation

Starting the Conversation on How to Start a Conversation When You Have Nothing to Talk About

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If you want to talk to a stranger, approach them, make eye contact, and smile. Say hello and tell them your name so they feel comfortable around you. Offer a handshake so the other person feels connected to you and more willing to talk. Ask them for their name so you have a natural lead-in to a longer conversation.[1] For example, you may say, “Hi, my name is John. It’s nice to meet you.” You don’t need to introduce yourself if you just want to have a casual conversation, but it will help make people more receptive to you.

Starting the Conversation on How to Start a Conversation When You Have Nothing to Talk About

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Mentioning something negative at the start of your conversation may make others unwilling to open up and talk with you. Bring up something around you that you really enjoy and smile while you’re talking to the other person is more likely to open up and talk with you. After you mention what you enjoy, you ask them how they feel about it to get them involved.[2] For example, if you’re at a party, you may say, “This music is really cool! Do you like it?” or, “Have you tried the food yet? It’s really delicious.” Ending with a question encourages the other person to respond and start a conversation.

Starting the Conversation on How to Start a Conversation When You Have Nothing to Talk About

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Talk about the person’s personality or something they’re wearing when you give a compliment. Be genuine with your compliment or else the person may feel like you aren’t being truthful and deter them from talking to you. Follow up with a question to keep the conversation going, or else they may not respond.[3] You may say something like, “That dress looks really nice. Where did you get it?” or, “You have a good sense of style. How do you find outfits to wear?” Use open-ended questions as much as you can so the conversation doesn’t end with “yes” or “no.”Warning: Don’t bring upsomeone’s appearance since itcould make them uncomfortable andthey may not respond well to it.Warning: Don’t bring up someone’sappearance since it could make themuncomfortable and they may not respondwell to it.Warning: Don’t bring up someone’sappearance since it could make themuncomfortable and they may not respond wellto it.Warning: Don’t bring up someone’s appearance since it could makethem uncomfortable and they may not respond well to it.Warning: Don’t bring up someone’s appearance since it could make themuncomfortable and they may not respond well to it.

Starting the Conversation on How to Start a Conversation When You Have Nothing to Talk About

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If you’re unable to think of a way to transition into a conversation, look around where you and make an observation about something you see. It can be about the weather, a venue, other people, or an event taking place. Stay positive in your conversation so you seem inviting to the other person and you make them more interested in talking to you.[4] For example, you may say, “This is my first time at this cafe. Have you tried anything here?” or, “I wish the sun would come out today. When’s the last time it wasn’t cloudy.” Have a sense of humor when you’re having your conversation. It will make others feel engaged and make your chat more enjoyable.

Part 2
Finding Topics to Talk About

Finding Topics to Talk About on How to Start a Conversation When You Have Nothing to Talk About

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Reach out to the person you want to talk to and mention work or school. Ask them what their job involves, how long they’ve been there, and ask if they’ve done anything interesting lately. If they’re still in school, ask them what they’re studying and what they hope to do when they graduate.[5] Be sure to answer any questions if they ask about your job or education as well. Show genuine interest in their job, even if it doesn’t sound the most exciting to you. Use it as an opportunity to learn more about the person and the subject.

Finding Topics to Talk About on How to Start a Conversation When You Have Nothing to Talk About

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People enjoy talking about things they’re passionate about, so ask the person what they like to do outside of work or school, and note any areas that sound interesting to you. See what their favorite thing about the hobby is and what they like about it. When they ask you about your hobbies, mention any that are similar to theirs first so you can hold a conversation about it. If you’re interested in one of their hobbies, ask them how to get involved so you can try it too.[6] For example, you may say something like, “Oh I’ve never tried woodworking. What’s the best thing to do for a beginner.” Make sure you don’t talk over the other person or talk only about your hobbies. Ask questions about what the other person enjoys so you can have a good back-and-forth dialogue.

Finding Topics to Talk About on How to Start a Conversation When You Have Nothing to Talk About

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Many people share similar tastes in media, so talk about recent films or music that you’ve seen or listened to and gauge the other person’s interest. Ask them what content they’ve been enjoying lately and let them explain why they like it. If you both have seen or heard the same thing, have a discussion about it and talk about your opinions to keep the conversation going.[7] For example, you could say, “Have you seen the newest Star Wars movie? What did you think of the ending?” or, “What music do you like to listen to? Do you have a favorite artist I should check out?” Even if you disagree with their opinions, stay positive and say something like, “Oh, I never thought of it that way, but I understand your point.” That way, the other person will still feel engaged with the subject rather than being shot down. If you don’t know what the other person is talking about, ask them to clarify or explain what happens so you can get a better understanding of it. It’s okay to say “I don’t know,” if you’re unfamiliar with media they’re discussing.

Finding Topics to Talk About on How to Start a Conversation When You Have Nothing to Talk About

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If you feel comfortable with the other person, you may ask about their past or what they want to do in the future. Ask them about funny things that happened to them, what their family is like, or goals they have. Open up about your own experiences so you can share them and connect with the other person.[8] For example, you may say something like, “Where are you originally from? Did you like it there?” or, “What did you want to be when you grew up?” Strangers may find it odd if you ask too much about their personal life right when you meet them. Only ask deeper questions if you both feel comfortable responding to them. Never try to “one-up” the person or try to impress them, since it may make them uncomfortable and want to leave the conversation.

Finding Topics to Talk About on How to Start a Conversation When You Have Nothing to Talk About

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Look up current events in the news or on social media and mention them to the other person. Have at least 1-2 events that happened in the past week ready so you can pull them out in your conversation. See what they think of the news and ask them how they feel on the subject. Be ready to talk about your opinions as well since they may ask you the same thing.[9] For example, you may say something like, “Did you hear about the new music app that just came out? I saw it on the news.”Warning: Be careful talking aboutheated subjects, such as politicsor religion, since they couldmake people upset or unwilling totalk.Warning: Be careful talking aboutheated subjects, such as politics orreligion, since they could make peopleupset or unwilling to talk.Warning: Be careful talking about heatedsubjects, such as politics or religion,since they could make people upset orunwilling to talk.Warning: Be careful talking about heated subjects, such as politics orreligion, since they could make people upset or unwilling to talk.Warning: Be careful talking about heated subjects, such as politics orreligion, since they could make people upset or unwilling to talk.

Part 3
Staying Engaged in the Conversation

Staying Engaged in the Conversation on How to Start a Conversation When You Have Nothing to Talk About

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Put away your phone and focus your attention on the other person while they’re talking. Maintain eye contact with them so they know that you’re paying attention to them and actively listen to what they’re saying. Ask them questions based on what they say so to stay involved in the conversation.[10] When they end their thought, briefly restate something they said so they know you were paying attention to them. For example, if they mentioned getting a new vehicle, you can ask, “What kind of car did you end up getting? Does it drive well?” Try to avoid thinking of other things while the other person is talking since you may not respond naturally to them when they finish.

Staying Engaged in the Conversation on How to Start a Conversation When You Have Nothing to Talk About

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If the other person mentions something that you can relate to while they’re talking, use the phrase, “That reminds of…” before talking about your topic. This way, you can easily go between multiple topics in a natural way without any awkward breaks in the conversation. Make sure the topics are related in some way to make it a smooth transition so it’s easier for the other person to follow along.[11] For example, if they mention the nice weather, you may say something like, “That reminds me of the gorgeous weather in Hawaii when I visited. Have you been there?”Tip: You can use, “This remindsme of…” after a break in theconversation if you mentionsomething in your surroundings.For example, if you’ve alreadytalked to the other person and amusician comes on, you may say,“Oh, this guy is very good. Hereminds me of another artist.”Then you can transition intotalking about music.Tip: You can use, “This reminds meof…” after a break in theconversation if you mention somethingin your surroundings. For example, ifyou’ve already talked to the otherperson and a musician comes on, youmay say, “Oh, this guy is very good.He reminds me of another artist.”Then you can transition into talkingabout music.Tip: You can use, “This reminds meof…” after a break in the conversationif you mention something in yoursurroundings. For example, if you’vealready talked to the other person and amusician comes on, you may say, “Oh, thisguy is very good. He reminds me of anotherartist.” Then you can transition intotalking about music.Tip: You can use, “This reminds me of…” after a break in theconversation if you mention something in your surroundings. For example,if you’ve already talked to the other person and a musician comes on,you may say, “Oh, this guy is very good. He reminds me of anotherartist.” Then you can transition into talking about music.Tip: You can use, “This reminds me of…” after a break in theconversation if you mention something in your surroundings. For example, ifyou’ve already talked to the other person and a musician comes on, you maysay, “Oh, this guy is very good. He reminds me of another artist.” Thenyou can transition into talking about music.

Staying Engaged in the Conversation on How to Start a Conversation When You Have Nothing to Talk About

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If you have something come into your head during a random break in the conversation, bring it up and ask the other person about it. Don’t interrupt the other person if you think of something while they’re talking since it’s rude. Make sure the topic isn’t something that would make the other person uncomfortable, or else they may not want to continue talking. [12] For example, you may say, “I just remembered a funny news story I found online. Do you want to hear it?” The person may not be as receptive of a random topic if you haven’t already talked to them yet.