How to Start Conversations With Potential Friends

Offer a compliment to start a conversation with a potential friend.
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The famous entertainer Will Rogers once said, "A stranger is just a friend I haven't met yet." If you think of strangers this way -- people that you haven't yet gotten to know -- it can make starting a conversation easier. You don't have to come up with something earth shattering to say, just be interested and ask questions.

1 Make Small Talk

If you want to get to know someone who could be a potential friend, break the ice by first saying something about the situation you are both in, advises author Gretchen Rubin in the Psychology Today article, "A Menu of Options for Small Talk." For example, you might say, "Warm out, isn't it?" or "Crowded in here." Move from setting talk to general interest topics such as the news, movies, sports and celebrity gossip. Try to find common interests.

2 Offer a Compliment

Compliments can be offered as a way to break the ice and make friends, according to the Helpguide article, "How to Make Friends." The best type of compliments are genuine and specific. For example, you might say, "I really like those hoop earrings. Where did you get them?" Even better, offer, "You played well in the game tonight. How do you manage school with your busy schedule?" Ask an open-ended question after the compliment to stimulate conversation.

3 Try Humor

Turn up the friendship gauge by adding humor with a new acquaintance. Options include funny one-liners, humorous stories about yourself or observations about humor in a situation. For example, if you are slightly overweight, you might make a comment such as, "The only exercise I get these days is running from the couch to the refrigerator." Self-deprecating humor, in which you put yourself down, shows that you don't take yourself too seriously and would make a good friend. Just be careful that the humor is not offensive, especially if you don't know your audience well.

4 Be Confident

When starting a conversation with a potential friend, be confident. Listen for the other person's name during introductions, and then repeat his name when the two of you talk. Make eye contact, listen to what he has to say, and show a genuine interest in getting to know him better, says communications expert Debra Fine, in the article, "How to Make a Good First Impression" found on her website. Your goal when speaking to a potential friend is to learn what you might have in common -- and the only way to do that is to listen.

Arlin Cuncic has been writing about mental health since 2007, specializing in social anxiety disorder and depression topics. She served as the managing editor of the "Journal of Attention Disorders" and has worked in a variety of research settings. Cuncic holds an M.A. in clinical psychology.