”’Offer a genuine compliment”’ like “I like your shoes” or “You did a fantastic job with that presentation today” or “I love the way you play the piano”. Try to make it a compliment that involves something they did, rather than something they are, because then you can carry the conversation forward by asking them how they did what they did. E.g. “Where did you find the shoes?” or “How did you learn to put together such great presentations?” or “Who taught you to play the piano?” If you tell someone they have beautiful eyes, they can thank you and the conversation ends there.
Bring up ”’family.”’ Your safest bet here is siblings. Parents can be a touchy subject for people who had troubled upbringings, have estranged parents, or whose parents have recently passed away. The topic of children can be uncomfortable for couples who are having fertility issues or disagreements about whether to have children, or for a person who wants to have kids but hasn’t found the right person or situation. So stick with asking about siblings:
*Do you have any siblings? How many?
*What are their names?
*How old are they?
*What do your siblings do? (Modify the question based on how old they are. Do they go to school/college, have a job? etc.)
*Do you look alike?
*Do you all have similar personalities?
*You could mention a 2007 study which found that the oldest sibling usually has the highest IQ, but younger siblings tend to excel in other areas of life, like sports and arts.http://www.livescience.com/health/070621_birth_order.html If you have siblings, you can say something like “I know that’s true/not true for my family when I was growing up, is it true for yours?”
Ask about their ”’travels.”’ Ask the person where they’ve been; even if they have never left their home town, you can always ask where they want to go.
*If you had a chance to move to any other country, which one would it be and why?
*Of all the cities in the world you’ve visited, which one was your favorite?
*Where did you go on your last vacation, and how did you like it?
*What was the best/worst vacation or trip you’ve ever been on?
Inquire about ”’food and drink.”’ Food is a little better to talk about because there’s always the chance of bumping into someone who has had issues with alcohol abuse, whether they were alcoholics, or they had negative experiences with an alcoholic. So talk about food. Be careful that the conversation doesn’t stray into someone going on and on about their diet, how they’re trying to lose weight, etc. That can take the conversation in a negative direction.
*Ask “If you could only have one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?”
*What’s your favorite food?
*Where do you like to go when you eat out?
*Do you like to cook?
*What’s your favorite kind of candy?
*What’s the worst restaurant experience you’ve ever had?
Ask about ”’work.”’ This one is especially tricky. Use with care. A date might [[Spot a Gold Digger|think you’re a gold digger]]. Or the conversation could end up sounding like a job interview. Still, if you can handle it carefully and keep it short and sweet (and prevent it from turning into a competition over whose job or boss is worse) then here are some starters:
*What was your first job ever?
*Who was your favorite boss in the past and why?
*When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
*What do you like best about your job?
*If money was no object, but you still had to work, what would be your dream job?
Find out about their ”’interests and hobbies.”’ This is where it starts to get more personal. It’s up to you to carry the conversation beyond these questions in an appropriate way. Just always remember to stay positive, ask questions, and ”relate”.