How to Talk to Someone When You Have Nothing in Common

Fri Mar 2, 2018

We’re constantly interacting with people and sometimes, it can be difficult to start a conversation with someone, if we don’t know them well.

What do we say to start a conversation that is meaningful?

If we’re interacting with colleagues in a work or business environment, it can be easier to have a conversation because we’ll have things in common to talk about.

If we’re meeting someone for the first time, either in a social gathering or in a more formal setting, having something intelligent to say is important if we want to make a good first impression.

There are simple things we can do to appear to be more willing to have a conversation with others, such as:

  • Smiling.
  • Having a handshake or a hug, if appropriate.
  • Maintaining good body language.

These are things we can do before we say anything. Starting a conversation worth remembering takes a lot more.

When you have nothing to talk about with someone

How to start a conversation with someone you have nothing in common with

I remember hearing a story from a mentor when he was at a party and a man came up to him and asked, “Do you have want to have a small talk or do you want to have a big talk?” That took him by surprise and he replied that he wanted to have a big talk. They ended striking up a memorable conversation, which developed into a great friendship and collaboration on various projects.

Similarly, I’m not one for having meaningless conversations. I struggle with small talk, which people tend to default back to, such as talking about the weather, traffic or what they do as their work. While those topics can be useful, I’d much rather have a big talk, on topics that are more inspiring or motivating.

I prefer having conversations that cause me to think about who I am, what I am doing, how I can do things better and how I can improve as a person, which can inspire me to serve and contribute more.

5 Topics to Use to Start a Meaningful Conversation

Imagine you’re meeting someone for the first time and you’ve introduced yourself to the person, and within a minute or so, you realise you have nothing in common with this person.

Here are questions you can ask to get to know more about the other person, which can lead to a better conversation.

  1. What is something interesting you experienced in the past week? This will give you an idea of how they see and experience their world.
  2. What is something you think you do really well? From their response, there are many follow up questions you can ask such, “Why do you think you do that really well?” or “How did you get so good at that?” or “How has being really good at that helped you in life?”
  3. When did you last do something for the first time and what was it? This will give you an idea of their sense of adventure or how willing they are to try new things in life. Follow-up questions may include, “What made you choose to do that thing?” or “What did you learn from it?”
  4. Who is someone that has been in the media recently, that has caught your attention? Why? This will reveal what they give their attention to regularly. A follow-up question could be, “What do you like or dislike about that person?”
  5. Who is the person that influenced you the most in life? This will reveal who their biggest role model is, which is always an interesting topic of conversation. Follow-up questions may include, “How has that person influenced you?” or “What impact has that person had on your life?”

If we allow people to talk long enough, we’ll discover new things about them that we like or dislike. By focusing on topics of conversation that are deeper and more meaningful, we will get to know people’s core values a lot quicker, which may lead to a better connection with them.

Action Step: Next time you meet someone for the first time, use these questions to strike up a conversation that will be memorable and more impactful.

Question: What are some other topics or questions we can ask someone when we have nothing in common?


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