Initiating a Conversation

What do you say after you say “Hello?” 

Almost all oral communication involves speaking face to face with one or a few persons.  It’s a daily activity in which you can improve a great deal if you try.

One of the keys to becoming a good conversationalist is to be genuinely interested in people.  This interest is reflected by your attitude, eyes, smile, and handshake.  Another key is to have many activities or hobbies and to be able to discuss them knowledgeably.  Keeping up with the daily news in various fields by means of newspapers, magazines, and radio and TV broadcasts is a third way to help make you a more interesting person to talk with.

You can develop your conversational ability if you practice the suggestions given.  For example, you should be sincere and listen attentively, you should not interrupt, monopolize, offend, complain, or pry; and you should not be a know-it-all.

There are also suggestions for initiating a conversation and keeping it moving – for example, how to introduce people and yourself, how to compliment people sincerely, how to discuss politics and religion, how to ask provocative questions, and how to express sympathy.

Lastly, in today’s fast-paced world, making contacts is a significant aspect of getting ahead, so there are suggestions that can help you advance your career.


You will engage in conversation countless times each day for the rest of your life.  As far as making an impact on your daily life, there is perhaps nothing more important than the way you converse with people.  At home; at work; at school; at a business, social or community gathering; in dealing with your loved ones; your roommate, children or your neighbor; in interacting with your bank; company; and in person or over the telephone, conversation plays a vital role in your life.

Think for a moment.  Can you recall social or professional conversations that you wanted to leave or actually did leave because you felt the experience was a waste of time?  Perhaps the person who spoke the most was boring and conceited and monopolized the conversation, or a tedious know-it-all, or engaged in malicious gossip.

Some of the most delicious moments of life blossoms in conversation.  The art of swift and witty response is universally admired and enjoyed.  You may recall conversations with people who were captivating, people who made you feel that you were part of the action and who listened to you with much interest as you listened to them.  If you’re genuinely interested in others, the conversation stands an excellent chance of being absorbed.  There’s nothing like a stimulating conversation; in fact, a good conversationalist communicates confidently with others.  To be well-liked, admired and respected and to feel that you’re making a contribution to society, no matter how infinitesimal, is an unequaled experience.

You become a better conversationalist, a more appealing person, and a more respected and admired individual.  You can, that is, if you have the determination to work at it.  And what’s even better, you’re not on a stage under a magnifying glass but among friends.  Every day you’ll have a multitude of opportunities to practice, to experiment and to evaluate yourself.

If you blunder, so what?  In a few moments, you’ll have another chance.  You won’t be graded, criticized, or evaluated.  You’re free to progress as much as you want, at your own pace.  You have your friends, even strangers, classrooms, home, work, the beach social clubs, and meetings.  The world is your laboratory in which to experiment.

Conversation begins even before you speak.  Your physical presence and expression transmit impressions, favorable or unfavorable, to those around you. Before engaging in conversation, consider the four following nonverbal elements.

Your Attitude: 

You must look forward to conversing.  It can be challenging, rewarding, and informative if you allow it to be.  Have an open, unbiased mind and be ready to listen to all.  Be eager to see what you can derive from this experience and what you can contribute to it.

Your Eyes 

Your eyes will reflect if you’re genuinely interested.  “The eyes have one language everywhere” and it’s understood everywhere.  Look people in the eye, to communicate your friendliness and sincerity; otherwise, you exclude them.  If you’re not interested, your eyes may transmit a negative impression.

Your Smile 

Can you think of a better way to communicate nonverbally with someone than with a sincere smile?  Smiling can be contagious. Try it on the next acquaintance you see, you both may be surprised at the results from something that requires so little effort – just spontaneity.

Your Handshake 

Shake hands with a grip firm enough to convey a meaningful expression.  If you’re a strong person, don’t use your strength for squashing knuckles.  By the same token, people turn away from a lifeless, dangling handshake.  When you can greet someone with responsive eyes, a friendly smile, and a warm, meaningful handshake, you’ve mastered the first step in learning to communicate interpersonally with purpose.

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