Starting a conversation with someone is intimidating. It doesn’t matter if they’re a woman or a man, we all want to avoid awkward silences. Maybe you’re at a party where the only person you know went to the bathroom. Do you stand there by yourself waiting anxiously for your friend to return or would you rather show some social proof by getting to know new people? Throughout my life I’ve had a difficult time starting conversations with new people that were anything beyond small talk. The FORD method has helped me greatly in avoiding those awkward situations and actually building rapport with strangers.
FORD is an acronym that stands for:
The possibilities stemming from these four categories are endless but remember to ask open-ended questions. Avoid questions with yes or no answers. Use their answers to build on the conversation. Here are some questions you can ask for each topic.
- How is your family?
- How are your children?
- If they don’t have kids ask if they’re planning to have kids.
- How did you meet your spouse?
- What kind of activities are your kids into?
- How’s your job going?
- How did you get into your field?
- What are your career plans?
- If you know where they work, ask how the company is doing.
- What do you do for fun?
- How was your weekend?
- Any vacations planned for next year?
- Are you into any pro sports? What’s your favorite team?
- Been to any good concerts lately?
This topic can lead to some creative and interesting topics. Have fun with whatever you’re asking and remember to listen. A lot of people tend to ask questions so they can follow them up with their own stories. Don’t be that person.
- What did you want to be when you were a kid?
- If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
- What do you think you’ll be doing in five years?
- What’s your favorite place to visit?
No matter what you ask have interest in what they’re saying. Ask follow-up questions. You can share your own stories and comments but end it with another question to keep the conversation going. Don’t forget to smile and maintain eye contact.