What Are Your Thoughtful Conversation Starters?

October 22, 2015

Thoughtful Conversation Starters

I met Amara, a British actor, at a party last year through Dan, they worked together on a mini-series that filmed here in NYC. Amara is bubbly and easy-going and joyous. She has no guard up; I knew immediately that she’s the type of person who makes new friends in minutes.

Later in the evening, after a couple glasses of wine, a group of us huddled around the hors d’oeuvres table and engaged in easy chitchat. And then Amara piped up, “So, Kelley, what’s the dream?”

I instantly tensed, horrifying memories of being put on the spot during college lectures flooded back to me, and a nervous giggle escaped. “What do you mean? Like ‘what’s my American Dream?'” I managed to respond.

“Yea! If you could be anywhere and do anything, what would it be?” she asked.

Not exactly a casual conversation topic you’d start after just meeting someone, right? But Amara’s wide smile and inquiring eyes made it clear that she wasn’t being facetious. And being that I’d recently flipped my life upside down and spontaneously moved to NYC from small-town Vermont, I’d thought a lot about this recently.

“Well, I guess it’s…living on a tiny tropical island with naked babies running on the beach and a garden and fruit trees in the backyard. Yea…no pressure to make money or have a high-paying job with a fancy title. Simple everything.”

I hardly recognized my own voice. My response was uncharacteristically ‘open-book’ of me. I could feel my cheeks burning as my eyes scanned the faces of near strangers. It was the wine talking! Although…it really wasn’t entirely the wine. I’d said something to this affect to Dan a number of times, in confidence, obviously. But to admit this to a group of people I’d met only hours before was way out of my comfort zone.

“That sounds lovely,” Amara said in a genuine tone as she slouched back in her chair.

Given that it was the dead of winter and no one had felt temperatures above 20 degrees for days, I wasn’t sure if illusions of sandy beaches and warm lazy evenings rushed through her mind or if she actually considered my response.

But during the following weeks, I saw Amara several times; we had more thoughtful conversations and shared more delicious bottles of wine. She asked other important life questions in her casual, candid manner, and, again, I found myself discussing ideas that I naturally only share with a handful of people. Amara’s conversation starters–her approach to thoughtful conversations–were at first uneasy, but then invigorating. She made it seem like these topics are in fact less daunting than we make them out to be.

What are your go-to conversation starters? Do you drive into the ‘big’ topics like Amara? Or do you take a different approach? I’d love to hear!


(Photo by Kinfork.)




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