Are you making plans to attend IFMA's WW2015? The IFMA conference will be a great place to meet your fellow facilities managers, learn some new techniques, find out about the latest trends, and even make some friends. But making friends is easier for some people than others. Are you one of the ones who gets stumped for conversation after you both say, "Hello,"? If so, here is your guide to great conversation starters to help you make friends in Denver this year.
The first rule of thumb is not to assume anything. For example, not all men are into sports and not all women want to chit chat about their families. Steer for generalized conversation until you get a feel for the other person's personality, likes, dislikes, etc. and then you can steer into more precise topics once you know what they enjoy talking about. Try these broad questions to narrow down the subjects they like discussing. When you discover something that piques their interest, gradually dig a little deeper into that topic to keep the conversation going
1) Where are You From?
This is a nice, safe question, because everyone comes from somewhere! Also, almost every town and city has some interesting tidbit of history or lore that can keep a conversation moving -- even if it's only to discuss how ultra boring it is. If you've got a long train or plane ride to get to Denver, consider taking along a book about geography to browse so that you'll have interesting things to talk about no matter what cities the people you meet are from. There are some great kids' travel books with tons of interesting facts about all of the states and major US cities.
2) Do You Have Pets?
Pets are also a safe subject, because even if the person doesn't have pets, they'll likely delve into an interesting story about why they don't like or can't have pets. Maybe they absolutely love dogs, but are allergic. Perhaps the person you're speaking with is a dog person but their partner is a cat person and they can't agree on what pet to get. If they are into their pets, most people can talk infinitely on their pets' personalities, habits, how they came to adopt them, and other details you may or may not have any interest in whatsoever. Hey, at least you're talking!
3) Do You Have any Hobbies?
Most people have hobbies, even if they don't consider what they do in their free time to be an actual hobby. For instance, some folks are avid readers or spend their extra time volunteering. Whether the person is an avid sports fan or amateur comedian or simply spends their time helping the kids' scout troops learn how to make campfires, people always enjoy talking about how they whittle away their non-working hours. Occasionally, this topic may stray into territory you aren't comfortable with or are quickly bored with. You also need to know how to end a conversation at IFMA's WW2015.
Here are FIVE more conversation starters:
- Is this your first time at IFMA World Workplace? If the answer is yes, then mention a few things they might know about.
- What educational sessions do you plan on attending? If they don’t know yet, mention that Elizabeth Dukes is speaking at 8am on Friday morning. That is sure to get the conversation going!
- Did you attend any of the building tours? If no, will you attend the awards ceremony on Friday night?
- Have you been to Denver before? If they answer yes, maybe you want to ask where you should visit or the name of a good restaurant.
- What are you looking forward to this week?
As you're talking, scan the conversation for points of interest to discuss further. Perhaps another person or place is mentioned that seems important to them, or maybe they drop hints about some other interesting aspect of their lives -- such as an unusual skill like flying a helicopter. Earmark these conversational tidbits so that you can rekindle a conversation that threatens to get boring or awkward. Be prepared to answer their questions, too! A one-sided conversation is never the best way to spend your time, or the other person's time. Give as good a conversation as what you're getting.