Advice and Help for Teens

How to Start a Conversation

I’m not going to tell you that knowing how to start a conversation and then doing it is super easy. Especially when there are other kids around. Especially especially if you’re an introvert. But if you want to make friends, you can either wait for people to talk to you first—and how’s that working?—or you can be the one to start a dialogue.

It takes some social cajones, but it can be done. Here’s how.

1: Find people you’re actually interested in talking to. For how to do that, read my post explaining how to make friends.

2: Take a breath and notice your feelings. If you feel anxious, that’s cool. That’s logical, actually. You’re here reading a post called how to start a conversation, so you’re probably not super-extroverted-I’ll-talk-to-a-brick-wall guy. By validating your feelings you stop fighting them, which can make your anxiety drop a little bit.

3: Think about why you’re doing this. By visualizing what you hope to achieve, you give yourself motivation to push past your fear and take action.

4: Go for it. When there’s a pause in the conversation, say something like, “Hey, did I hear you guys talking about the AP World History exam? Because yikes. How did you deal?” Or, “I love your shoes. Did you paint them yourself?” Or whatever.

5: Don’t do what your parents tell you to do. Ahaha, but seriously. Well-meaning adults always want to tell you that how to start a conversation is to “just introduce yourself!” But that’s weird. What’s not weird is noticing something about a person you think you’d vibe with and asking them about it in an interested way.

6: Keep the conversation rolling by asking a few more questions on the topic, then throwing in something about your own experience on that topic. Hit repeat.

And boom: new friend! At least, hopefully. I’d love to hear how it goes!

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