Ice Breakers! How to talk to people for the first time.
Have you thought about going to some English-speaking events, but don’t know how to start a conversation? Maybe you get stuck when you are talking to foreigners for the first time? Don’t panic! It is perfectly normal.
It can be tempting to immediately go for personal questions; “What’s your name?”, “Where are you from?” or even “How are you?”, but these questions are overused and might not lead to interesting, stimulating conversation. Here are some ideas to really break the ice!
If your English is limited, but you don’t want to use the same boring questions to start a conversation, try the examples given in blue.
Comment on the environment
Whether you are in a park or a pub, you always have an environment to talk about! Pick something you can see, and make an opinion on it. Hopefully, the person standing next to you will give you their opinion too!
Person A: “ This place is a total mix of old and new. Old pictures on the wall, with really modern chairs!”
Person B: “ Yeah, I think it is supposed to be Mexican”
Person A: “ Wow, I wouldn’t have guessed! Have you been to Mexico?…
You can also comment on their appearance, as long as it is in a truly friendly way:
“I love that jacket. It looks really seventies!”
“Where did you find that hat? It’s awesome!”
Ask for advice
Everyone loves giving advice, so ask for some!
Person A: “ Hi. I’m new in Berlin. Can you give me some recommendations of things to do?
Person B: “ Oh, there are so many things to do. What do you enjoy?…
Ask a (non-intrusive) question
Spontaneous questions can be a great way to start a conversation with someone. Often, the other person will focus on answering the question, and won’t even think about the fact a stranger is talking to them!
“ What are you drinking? It looks good.”
“ Are you living here or just travelling through?”
Treat a new person as an old friend
Above all, the most important thing to break the ice should be that your first words are organic, and not over-thought. I know this sounds kind of paradoxical, like when a photographer says ‘act natural’. However, one way to do this is just to talk to new people the same as you would talk to your best friend. Here are some things that you are likely to say to a good friend, that can actually be nice to say to someone you have just met:
“Have you had a nice day?”
“What’s the best film you’ve seen recently?”
“ Have you heard the new Gorillaz album?”
“ A lot of protests in Buenos Aires recently, eh?!”
How do you speak to someone you meet for the first time? Do you have any good ice-breakers? Tell us in the comments section below.