How to make conversation with a friend

Tips for Talking with Your Friend

It can be difficult to know how to start a conversation with a friend about what's going on for them. Read on for a few tips to get started.

Some first steps

Speak up! Start by telling your friend what you have noticed and why it concerns you. Choose a comfortable, familiar but private place where the two of you can talk and not be interrupted.

Let your friend know that you care about them and you are worried about them.

Give specific reasons for your concern rather than asking, “How’s it going?” or “Is there anything wrong?” These kinds of questions are easy to brush off. Think about the changes you’ve noticed in them. “I’ve noticed you seem _____ (really down lately, unhappy, on edge) and I’m worried for you.”

Possible responses:

Your friend may respond by saying there’s nothing wrong.

That’s okay – it may take more than one try before they are comfortable talking. But hey will now know that you’ve noticed a difference and that you’re concerned. Try again in a few days.

Your friend tells you they don’t know what’s going on for them.

Suggest they look at some of the self-checks in the Mental Health & Substance Use section as a first step. Offer to sit with them if they want support, but don’t answer for them as the results will not be very accurate. Or if they prefer to do it on their own, send them the link to this section.


Your friend isn’t comfortable talking with someone they know.

Let them know that on they can find out about phone and online chat resources and they won’t have to say who they are.


Your friend wants to talk with you.

  • Let your friend share as much or as little as they want to.
  • Make it clear that you don’t blame them for their problems. Be non-judgmental.
  • Try not to assume you know what’s wrong. Don’t try to diagnose or second guess their thoughts or feelings. Just be there, listen and offer support.
  • Ask questions to help you both have a better understanding about what they are going through. Assure your friend they don’t have to answer any questions that make them feel uncomfortable.

Keep in mind….it can be really hard to talk about personal stuff. Your friend may not understand the feelings and thoughts they’re experiencing. They may feel like it’s their fault or embarrassed that this is happening to them. They might be frustrated that they can’t just get over it or scared of being seen as different from everyone else.

  • Keep your questions open-ended. Say “Can you tell me how you are feeling?” rather than “Are you feeling sad?” Give your friend time to answer.
  • Sometimes, just being able to vent about one’s troubles is enough to feel better.
  • Ask “How can I help or support you?” rather than jumping in with your own solutions.
  • You may hear something that needs more support than you can give. Ask your friend if they have thought about going for help. Suggest going to the Get Support section on or that they talk with a trusted adult.
  • Don’t promise to keep secrets, especially if your friend is talking about hurting themself.
  • Be prepared to hear information that may be upsetting. This can be hard to take, so remember to take care of yourself. Talk to an adult you trust or you can always use the phone and online chat options to connect with a trained professional or volunteer.

If you are very worried about a friend, you should let an adult know. This could be one of your parents, a school counsellor or another trusted adult. They can help you to figure out what resources are available and what the next steps might be. 

What Next?

Want to explore and learn more?

Substance use and friendsKeeping Connected with Your Friend

How to have better conversations with people you've just met, according to science

In another study from Dunn and Sandstrom, a group of students were asked to carry around counters and keep count all social interactions over the course of their day. Having more social interactions led the students to report greater levels of happiness and wellbeing.

In terms of how much differences in personality traits affect these assertions, Sandstrom, Nightingall, Dunn, and others say, less than you’d probably think. “Both extroverts and introverts are social beings,” Nightingall says.

Sandstrom adds that people who are more introverted tend to be more worried about how conversations will go ahead of time compared with extroverts. But those differences go away when people report the benefits they get out of a conversation (according to what she and colleagues found in the aforementioned "Psychological Science" paper published last year). That research also looked at other personality differences besides introversion. “Things like self-esteem and rejection sensitivity didn’t matter,” Sandstrom says.

How to actually be better at talking to strangers

Whether it’s approaching someone at a networking event, engaging a friend of a friend you’ve never met before at a party, or sharing a kind word with a stranger on the elevator (yep, we went there), here are some pointers:


Be brave, worry less

Even if it’s uncomfortable, be brave and just do it, Sandstrom says. The person is probably going to like you more than you think and you’re both probably going to enjoy it more than you think.

And don’t be afraid to talk to someone who seems different from you, adds Juliana Schroeder, PhD, assistant professor at the Haas School of Business at University of California Berkeley. (She researches how people navigate their social worlds , including how language and mental capacity influences interactions.) “When you have to talk with someone different from you, that can be the most enlightening and interesting experience.”

2. Be curious

Ask questions. Is the person wearing an article of clothing that’s noteworthy? Why did they decide to come to whatever event you’re both at? Research actually suggests that people who ask more questions are better liked by their conversation partners than people who ask fewer questions. A question can either kick off a conversation or keep it going, Sandstrom says.

3. Don’t be afraid to go off-script

Skip the stock questions (what do you do, where do you live, etc.), and ask a question that will make your conversation partner think, which is engaging, Nightingall says. Or start with a statement: “This painting really confuses me” or “I can’t believe how crowded the train is today.” Statements are invitations to share curiosities, Nightingall says.

And whether you’re asking a question, replying, or making a statement, be authentic, she adds. “People want to get the real you so they can express the real them.”

4. Give someone a compliment

It shifts the focus to the other person and should make them feel good, Sandstrom explains. When it comes to our anxieties about having conversations with people we don’t know, we tend to be in our heads a lot, overthinking what we’re doing wrong or what we could do wrong, she explains. Focusing the attention on the other person in those moments can help us get past those awkward spots, she says.

5. Talk about something you both have in common

At the very least, you’re in the same place and experiencing the same weather. But don’t be afraid to dig deeper and find more interesting commonalities: maybe you’re from the same place, maybe you have a mutual friend, maybe you have a shared hobby, or maybe you work in similar roles.

“We tend to overestimate how different people are from one another and how different they are from us, “ Sandstrom says. “In reality, you probably have lots in common, but you just don’t know what that is yet.”

6. Have more conversations with people you don’t know

The more you have, the more likely that you’re going to have good conversations, Sandstrom says. You get better at asking better questions, and answering with more interesting responses. “There’s some skill, but its as much confidence that come from just doing it more often,” she says.

We fear social rejection — that the person won’t respond positively or will ignore us, Schroeder says. Research shows the opposite, however, that people nearly always are willing to engage in a conversation when prompted by someone else. (Our fear assumptions fail to take into account the social norms of politeness, Schroeder says.)

7. Don’t let the awkward moments trip you up

Sandstrom says in her experience, she would describe the stages of having a conversation with a stranger as follows: First, they look at you as if asking, “Do I know you?” Then there’s recognition they don’t know you. Then it’s, “Wait, are you a weirdo?” Then they get past all of that and realize you’re just being friendly.

“You have to be OK that it might be awkward for a bit,” Sandstrom says. “But if you keep going, hopefully you’ll get to that stage where you’re having a real conversation.”


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How to Start a Conversation with Friends or Strangers: 5 Proven Ways

January 23, 2013 Relationship

These simple tips will help you build contacts and stop being shy at a crowded party or gala reception.

Not everyone likes small talk about anything. In fact, such conversations perform a very useful function: they help to defuse the situation, get out of an awkward situation or start communication in an unfamiliar company, as well as unobtrusively start a conversation and get to know a new interlocutor better.

To be honest, I used to think that the ability to unobtrusively start a conversation was an exceptionally innate talent. With these people, after a couple of minutes you feel like you are talking with an old good friend. And I personally know such people - there are not so many of them in my environment.

In addition to them, there are comrades who just as easily start conversations with strangers, but after a minute they become like representatives of a Canadian company trying to sell you another set of knives, dishes or a vacuum cleaner. There is a huge difference between the first and second. How to understand that you are too carried away, and how to start a conversation correctly? Here are five simple tips from Celes, author of the Personal Excellence blog.

1. Ask a question

The easiest and most standard way to start a new conversation, many use it.

"What do you do?"

This is a great conversation starter in countries with a cult of work, like Singapore or Hong Kong. People from there are used to identifying themselves with their occupation. If you know that this person loves his job and devotes a lot of time to it, feel free to ask. You will get a long enough and detailed answer, so that the conversation will not end after a short phrase and an awkward pause. Also, the method is well suited for talking at various conferences, seminars and business events. After that, you can ask a huge number of more working questions: “how long has he been in this business and has been working at this company?”, “Does he like this job?”, “What prompted him to join this company?” and so on. Questions about clients, business trips, careers, and funny incidents at work—the possibilities are endless.

"What brings you here?"

This question is especially useful for events such as a house party or a business meeting. Use the answer to continue the conversation. For example, a phrase like "I'm here to meet new people" means that this person is open to communication and new acquaintances. Perhaps you can share interesting events that are included in your calendar.

"What did you do today?"

Sometimes the answer to this question is standard and uninteresting. And sometimes they can reveal fascinating details about the interlocutor.

“How was the event (event)?”

If you know where the person has been before, use that to talk. For example, one of your friends or colleagues recently returned from a trip or was at an interesting conference. Ask him about this event.

"What are you doing this week?"

Since the question is about the future, ask it towards the end of the conversation so that you can politely say goodbye later.

Be aware that you may be asked follow-up questions, so be prepared to answer them.

2. Compliment

For example, an option that works best in a women's company: “What a beautiful dress! It fits so well on you. Where did you buy it? and all questions that relate to accessories, hairstyles and appearance. Starting a conversation like “You look great! Did you have a good rest / went on a diet / started exercising? and so on also works well with men.

Compliments about the work done will be pleasant to everyone without exception. They work especially well with open and emotional people.

3. Use surrounding objects as a hook for a conversation

After meeting at the conference, say that you liked the speech of a particular speaker, indicate which moments made a good impression and ask the interlocutor what he thinks about it.

Use what is happening around you to talk, thus creating a comfortable atmosphere. After the ice melts, you can move on to more personal topics.

4. Ask for advice or ask for help

Often one question or a simple request for help can lead to a long, interesting and fruitful conversation.

Why does it work? Because people like to help. It gives them a sense of importance, a sense that they have done something useful. And admiring reactions to the answers make them feel like a senior mentor.

These may be questions on work topics. For example, you can say that you are currently busy with a new project and would like to know the opinion of a person, since he is an expert in this field.

Even if you don't really need help, ask for it anyway. Advice given by another person can open up interesting prospects before you, previously unnoticed.

The most interesting thing is that a normally silent and modest person can break his standard behavior and show himself from a completely different side. Some people just blossom when someone is interested in their hobbies.

5. Tell us something about yourself

What have you been doing in recent months? What new and interesting things did you learn? What goals do you want to achieve in the near future? Tell about it.

This method is the opposite of method #1: you yourself take the initiative and share some information about yourself that might be interesting.

It is better to use if your counterpart is very shy and is unlikely to start a conversation first. Or if the person didn't respond to your question or comment. Then you can start by being the first to tell about yourself and thus show sincerity. When the person sees your willingness to evaluate and discuss, they can relax and open up in return.

How do you start a conversation with strangers?

Read also

  • How to become a master of small talk →
  • 5 tips for a new job at a new job →
  • 10 qualities of a person who is not afraid to be himself →

13 tips on how to start a conversation

1 How good are you as a conversationalist? Have you ever had awkward pauses in a conversation? A few tips described in this article will help you become a better conversationalist, and awkward pauses will be a thing of the past. Being a good conversationalist is just a combination of different methods of communication. Body language, a few tricks and you will be able to easily carry on a conversation with any people.

Start with a question

Do you want the person to remember you? Ask him an interesting question and listen carefully. This will give you the opportunity to make friends.

Get someone else's opinion

For example:

  • Could you recommend me a good cocktail?
  • Do you know the city well? Can you recommend me a good restaurant?
  • Where did you buy this phone/accessory/clothes?
  • What do you think of this party?

Applying an economic concept to a conversation

Imagine that your conversation is a bank. If you have a lot of investments, then things are going well. If loans are more than investments, then something should be changed. Transferring this metaphor to communication, we get this.

Emotional investment

  1. Agree with the interlocutor
  2. Proper body language
  3. Use the interlocutor's name
  4. Make jokes
  5. Encourage the interlocutor's ideas
  6. Carefully listen to
  7. Ask opinion

Emotional loans

  1. I do not agree with the interlocutor
  2. Wrong Language of the Body
  3. Talk a lot about yourself
  4. Field
  5. 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9,000 the conversation starts with a zero balance and do everything to increase it!

    Copying body language

    The practice of copying body language can be very helpful. Is your interlocutor cross-legged? Cross yours. Put your hands on the table? Do the same. Everything is very simple. Time is also very important. Wait a moment:

    • When the interlocutor tells something interesting
    • When you are interested
    • When the interlocutor is proud of something

    And then copy it. The person will assume that you empathize with him and it will be great if this is true.

    How to talk about yourself without being terribly boring

    You can be an incredibly charismatic and interesting person. But, people are just not interested in hearing about others, no matter how wonderful you are. If you continue to follow our economic concept, then you must make an emotional investment. Make the interlocutor experience emotions and he will be very interested in talking with you.

    Change the depth of the conversation

    You know the proverb: small minds discuss people, average minds discuss events, and great minds discuss ideas? Use it. Start small and play a prank on someone, then get the other person's opinion on an event, and then move on to ideas related to that event. For example:

    Intro: Hello, how was your day?

    Event: Are you planning something with Katya for Valentine's Day?

    Idea: I saw an article on the internet about how we have perverted Valentine's Day from its traditional meaning.

    Ask the other person to be interesting

    Everyone is interesting in their own way, but few people really open up. So give them a chance to open up and they will only think of you. Here is a simple example:

    Tell me something interesting about yourself.

    This is a great conversation starter that will make you seem more attentive and at the same time give you the opportunity to learn something really interesting about the person.

    How to ask people what they do

    How do you spend your time when not. ..?

    Instead of a blank, there should be something at the end that you know about the person. Here are some examples:

    How do you spend your time when you're not writing your exciting blog?

    How do you spend your time when you are not on Facebook*?

    How do you spend your time when you don't go to the gym?

    Be a good listener

    If you were to ask me for one piece of advice on how to be a good conversationalist, I would stop there. This is the most important part. Listen to the person. Be genuinely interested in what he is talking about. Lead the interviewer's story with your questions. Be interested in him and he will be interested in you in return.

    Pace of conversation

    In general, a fast pace of conversation is a sign of nervousness and excitement, while a moderate pace is a sign of confidence. Therefore, try to speak at a moderate pace, but if your interlocutor speaks at a fast pace, copy it and speak the same way.

    Correctly change the topic of conversation

    This has happened to everyone: you are discussing something with your acquaintance, but then a third person bursts into your conversation and turns the whole conversation in his direction. It's terribly annoying. But, only if you're doing it wrong. You must make an emotional investment at the end of your monologue. This will divert attention and you won't look like an idiot by changing the subject. Example:

    Chris: My son is a very good football player.

    Me: Cool! You once talked about where he trained. My son recently earned a black belt in Karate and is leaving for Korea on a student exchange program. After all, your son trained in Korea? Can you give me some tips?

    In this dialogue, the emotional investment was a compliment to Chris and his son. I changed the topic of conversation to the one I needed, doing it right.

    Give the Right Compliments

    Compliments are a very powerful tool when used correctly.

    Learn more