Guest post by Beth Rush
Sometimes it’s nice to strike up a conversation with someone different from you. Other times, it’s necessary.
Trying to talk to someone you know doesn’t have common interests or experiences can be intimidating. However, there are ways to have a quality discussion with them. Here’s how to start a conversation when you have nothing in common.
1. Be Positive
We’re a society that can prefer hiding behind screens. It can be hard to have an in-person conversation with someone when the topic is clear, let alone when there isn’t a common thing to discuss.
It’s important to take a positive approach to a conversation with someone you can’t relate to. Thinking negatively makes you dread talking to them, and those thoughts can take over when you need to listen to the other person.
You shouldn’t assume a conversation won’t go well, even if it is in an awkward scenario. Plan for it to go smoothly and you’ll feel more confident approaching the talk. Thinking positively about the person in front of you will help you focus on what they’re saying, helping you avoid awkward pauses or misunderstandings.
How you feel about a conversation can also be conveyed by your body language. Feeling positive will help you appear more relaxed and kind, making the other person more comfortable with talking to you.
2. Talk About Neutral Things
If you have nothing in common with the person you’re talking to, feel free to bring up a topic almost anyone can discuss.
Common icebreakers include:
You’ll want to avoid topics that could cause discourse, especially at first. Don’t talk about politics or religion unless you are in a political or religious scenario. Remember, you are both in the same place for a reason, so feel free to talk about that, whether it be an event, appointment or meeting.
Talking about neutral topics can help you ease into the conversation with one another with little risk of something going wrong.
3. Ask Questions
Don’t be afraid to initiate a conversation by asking a lighthearted question that helps you start to know the other person. Their answer can also be a great indicator of if they’re nervous about the conversation.
A fun question can be a great way to break the ice. You could also ask someone something that shows respectful interest, such as asking how their day is going or something they like to do.
Some fun questions to ask include:
What’s your favorite dinosaur?
If you could bring any person, alive or dead, over for dinner, who would it be?
What’s your karaoke go-to song?
Do you prefer books or movies?
If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or 10 duck-sized horses?
Who should play you in a movie about your life?
What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
If you could visit any place in the world, where would it be?
Be prepared to share your own answers to these questions.
Also, consider asking a question that helps you get to know them. You could ask what they do for a living, what hobbies they enjoy, and what they like to do with their friends and family. These queries show you have a genuine interest in them, making it easier for them to talk.
Don’t ask too many questions — you don’t want them to feel cornered. If they don’t want to answer something, switch topics. Be sure you’re willing to answer any of the same questions you ask the other person.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Open Up
You don’t want to ask anything too personal of the other person, but feel free to open up about yourself during your conversation.
If you find the conversation drifting into deeper territory, feel free to share any thoughts or feelings about the subject at hand. Only say what you’re comfortable sharing — you don’t want to dive into anything that can cause hurt feelings.
Opening up shows the other person you’re not afraid of the conversation and are willing to make a personal connection with them.
Sharing these things can also open the door for meaningful conversation that can lead to a positive outcome.
5. Listen Well
As nice as it is to initiate the conversation, you want to make sure you listen as well as you talk.
Just because you don’t have something in common doesn’t mean the other person is uninteresting. Ensure you take the time to listen and engage when they are speaking.
People can tell when you are or are not actively listening, so try your best to do so. You’ll likely get something interesting out of it.
Talking to Someone Without Commonality
Sometimes social situations can be awkward, but it helps to know how to talk to someone you have nothing in common with. There are several ways to still find meaningful conversation with them. Who knows? You might even make a new friend.