The Power of a Sincere Compliment
Looking for a quick and easy way to start a conversation with anyone? Try offering them a compliment. Giving a compliment is a great way to open a dialogue while simultaneously setting the tone for a friendly and convivial discourse, and doing so is easier than you might think.
Of course, it goes without saying that this technique will only work if the compliment you give comes from a genuine and heartfelt place. If you give an insincere compliment to someone, they will not only see it for what it is – a transparent attempt at currying favor with them – but they will also think less of you for being manipulative. The trick, then, is to train yourself to notice the little things – a carefully-chosen pin, a unique tie, even a warm and engaging smile – about everyone you come in contact with. If you develop this habit, then it will become easy and close to effortless to produce a genuine and meaningful compliment whenever doing so will help you start a conversation that you need to have.
Why, exactly, does complimenting someone work so well as a conversation starter? The simplest answer to this question is this: because compliments make people feel noticed, appreciated, and, above all, good about themselves. If you’re uncomfortable in social settings like networking events, it can be easy to forget that everyone feels self conscious from time to time, but believe me when I say that more often than not, the other attendees at these events feel just as anxious about interacting with you as you do about interacting with them. That’s why the compliment technique works; a simple acknowledgement of a person’s value goes a long way towards instilling in them fond feelings towards you for going out of your way to boost their self-confidence.
When it comes to delivering this compliment out of the blue, the easiest tact to take is to position yourself in close proximity to the subject of your compliment and wait for a moment when you are both alone. Then, turn to them so that they understand they have your full attention, and deliver your compliment. If you need a transitional phrase to work your way up to it, try using the phrase, “I just have to tell you that…” – as in, “I just have to tell you that your tie is fantastic and I’ve been admiring it all night. If you don’t mind my asking, where did you get it from?” In one fell swoop, you’ve both delivered your opening statement in the form of a compliment and opened the door to a conversation. Don’t forget – people love to talk about themselves, and people love to give advice, so starting a conversation with a deferential statement like a compliment will get you much farther than, say, commenting on how delicious the food at the buffet is!