5 Conversation Starters and Stoppers For Teens
I’m a teenager; I can just keep it real when starting a conversation, right? Well you can, but you might not get very far. Staying relevant to your surroundings and being genuine is a great approach when thinking of conversation starters, however you might find that some topics that are authentic are also highly inappropriate and can also be conversation stoppers. Understanding how to be tactful with your conversation starters can save you (and the other party) from embarrassing moments and allow a conversation to flow.
Here are 5 conversation starters and stoppers for you to consider:
Starter – What classes are you taking this year?
When this question comes from an adult, it can be a bit bothersome. However, when it comes from another teenager you know they are genuinely interested in your subject areas. This can spark another conversation about where they go to school (e.g. Enlightium Academy), what subjects they are interested in, etc.
Stopper - What is that red mark on your face?
Steer away from asking others about physical appearance. This includes weight, defects, lacerations, pregnancy, etc. as this could lead down a very awkward path for the other person. When the conversation progresses, let the other person bring it up first before you talk about it. Also, don’t stare at the physical defect, but show kindness through your actions. (1 John 3:18)
Starter – Oh, I like your phone! Does it get good reception out here?
Focus on what a person does have. Pointing out something that is unique, nice or new that the other person has can make them feel like their opinion is appreciated. They took the time to pick out those specific shoes, the phone, etc. and by giving them a complement and asking about it, you are validating their choice.
Stopper – When are you going to get the [newest smartphone]?
Focusing on an item that someone doesn’t have can make him or her feel ashamed. What if they can’t afford the newest in technology? What if one of their parents is out of work and having trouble just putting food on the table? There could be many struggles that you don’t know about.
Starter – I’m trying to find a new book. Have you read anything good lately?
This question might sound a bit boring, but actually people who read are often excited at the chance to talk about what they have just invested so much time in. If you know the other person is more of a movie buff, change the question to ask about movies or TV shows they have watched lately.
Stopper – Have you seen [the new scary/action/war movie]?
Tread lightly when asking is someone has seen a specific film, especially if it is controversial. Even if you are very excited about this film and want to talk about it, the other person might not have seen it and feel a bit distanced when you launch into the speech about how great it is. Also, if it is a controversial film, the other person might feel uncomfortable if they were not aloud to see it or if it is something that goes against the other persons value system.
Starter – So how do you know Jane?
If you were invited somewhere by a mutual friend or if you know of a person you both know, it is appropriate to ask this question. Be sure to focus on the great character trades of your mutual friend (e.g. Well you know Jane is so bubbly, we went on a mission trip together and we teamed up to do outreach…) if the conversation starts to get gossipy, steer the conversation in another direction. You can always talk about the weather.
Stopper - Did you see what s/he was wearing?
Starting a conversation with gossip is just distasteful. This can convey that you are shallow or malicious and you are trying to stat a relationship at the expense of another. It never feels good to me after I leave a conversation where someone is talking about behind someone’s back. By gossiping you are potentially making the situation uncomfortable for multiple people; the person you are talking to, yourself, and the person you were talking about. (Proverbs 18:8)
Starter – Are you doing anything fun this weekend?
This is easy because it is open ended and allows the person to tell you about their upcoming trips or events. You might just learn that they are going to be at the same event you will be at.
Stopper – Are you going to Sam’s birthday party on Tuesday?
What if they haven’t been invited? That’s embarrassing. What if the other person’s parents aren’t allowing them to go to this party? This is a potentially painful subject that you could have just interjected yourself right in the middle.
It can take a lot of courage to go up to someone and start talking, however if you don’t you might miss an opportunity to make a friend. When I am going to a social event (i.e. a church potluck, birthday party, sporting event, etc.), I will think about 5 relevant conversation starters that I can lead with. It is important to understand what conversation starters AND conversation stoppers are. Just because a question seems to be natural to ask, doesn’t mean that is a good question to ask. Remember that manners are all about showing respect for others and yourself.