The Worst Ways to Begin a Conversation

A.P. Atkinson
There are many fantastic ways to open a conversation with a stranger, such that you completely engage their attention, and they desperately need to find out more about you. We have absolutely no idea what they might be, so we just did the complete opposite, as usual.
Even ‘Psychology Today’, a website ironically devoted to explaining things that have almost nothing to do with psychology in a way that anyone interested in psychology would be insulted by, has an article on this subject. Because everyone was doing it (badly), we decided to do it too (worse).
So here are a bunch of ways that you can ruin any chance of a second conversation with a single opening sentence in the first.
You’re welcome!

1) “Are you married?”

Nothing more strongly signals to a woman your horrendous sexual frustration and sheer desperation than opening a friendly chat by asking, in a roundabout sort of way, if she’s available to have sex with you.

Another variation on this question might be, ‘How much do you charge for twenty-eight seconds of deeply unsatisfying full sexual-intercourse?’ The implication is largely the same.

Always try to open a conversation with a few comments to establish rapport, and then move on to see how much you might have in common. In that sense, a man talking to a woman should follow the same essential rules as a man talking to another man. Opening it up with a comment that amounts to, ‘You have a vagina. Can I use it, please?’ usually gets you nowhere.

B) “What do you do for a living?”

Nothing more strongly signals to a man your horrendous desire to burn through someone else’s finances and appalling shallowness than opening a friendly chat by asking if he’s earning enough money to keep you temporarily satisfied.

Another variation on this question might be, ‘How much money have you got and are you stupid enough to give it all to me?’ The implication is largely the same.

Always try to open a conversation with a few comments to establish rapport and then move on to see how much you might have in common. In that sense, a woman talking to a man should follow the same essential rules as a woman talking to another woman. Opening it up with a comment that amounts to, ‘You appear to be a walking ATM, how do I get money out of you?’ usually gets you nowhere.

9) “Hello, I’m Jewish/Christian/Muslim/Uneducated.”

A great way to kill a conversation stone-cold dead in a single sentence is to begin with a statement that sums you up in a way that nobody else cares about. Religion is a pretty divisive subject, separating people who strongly believe in horribly mistranslated apocrypha from those who prefer (but may not be any good at) rational thinking.

Either way, opening up by telling a complete stranger that you haven’t yet managed to outgrow what you were taught as a child is probably not the ideal choice. You wouldn’t expect to be introduced to a smartly dressed gentleman in a grey tie who reaches out and firmly shakes your hand, smiles warmly and says, in a conspicuously shrill voice, ‘I believe that babies come from a big, white bird that brings them down for us in a blanket. Also the Earth is flat.’ The usual response to that is not to curiously rub your chin and thoughtfully say, ‘That’s interesting. I believe that the covid restrictions didn’t go far enough.’

By the same measure, don’t introduce yourself by saying you believe in Satan, even if you do. We’re looking at you, the Clinton family…

ð) “Oooo, you have terrible teeth.”

A great ice-breaker normally has a positive spin—it points out a thing the other person is doing and how you appreciate them for doing it. It’s a great way to establish rapport—a connection between two people of a personal, emotional and human nature. The opposite of that is to point out a horrendous shortcoming that they have, drawing attention to something they’re probably ashamed of.

Most people are aware that their head is bald, their ears are too big, they have bad breath or that every square inch of their face is poorly connected to every other square inch. They’re aware that they have the personality of a rabid badger, and that even blind people back away, chuckling to themselves. They know they’re equally despised by everyone.

You can stop telling me that now, OK???

#) “I voted for Joe Biden.”

Announcing your political opinion as an opening statement is as ridiculous as thinking that anyone cares what you have to say. Voting for Biden was a proud announcement for liberals when they hated Trump, but now that he’s deliberately ruined his own country, those voters are left hating themselves.

But, if you use the puppet-show of international tomfoolery as a way to establish a connection to strangers, your comments will remain fixed in their minds while the slithering, sliding world of corporate political-sponsorship shifts around alarmingly. As a consequence, your ‘opinions’ will wander out of date faster than an attractive woman deciding about the sexual appeal of a poor, ugly person.

Don’t ask me how I know about that…

0) “I’m temporarily off my medication!”

Honesty is only the best policy if the truth about you is actually positive. When meeting a stranger for the first time, telling them that you had explosive diarrhoea just after breakfast, enjoy reading poetry, think that Epstein killed himself, or have chronic dyspraxia is a poor choice for an opener. If you haven’t got anything better to say than a terrible truth about yourself, consider slapping the other person around the face because it will have pretty much the same effect.

Try making up a truth about yourself that sounds good. Although this defeats the whole point of the argument, try saying something like, ‘I campaign for women’s rights’ to a feminist (they’re easy to spot) or ‘I believe that animals are our friends’ to vegans. They’re more difficult to spot but don’t worry, they’ll be sure to identify themselves.

3) “I’ve got two kids, it used to be three but what can I say - I’m not very good at it.”

Nobody likes kids and nobody wants to hear your terrible story about how little Johnny has learnt not to shit his pants. If you were planning on having a conversation that lasts longer than your last sexual encounter, avoid talking about something that nobody wants to hear about. Other subjects to avoid are…


    • Whatever boring crap you collect
    • Your feelings about stuff
    • Your opinions
    • Your favourite movie/TV show
    • The weather
    • Your illnesses

D) “I have killed thirteen people—so far!”

There are a host of other awful ways to open conversations, the most awful of which is interjecting an opening sentence that’s best kept to yourself. We all have dark secrets, weird sexual perversions, monstrous urges to kill, beliefs in things that make little sense or the delusional belief that we’re doing something sane just because everyone else is doing it. Whatever stupid crap you’re into, it’s usually best to be into it quietly until you establish that the other person is just as fucked up as you are.

It usually doesn’t take long…

So, while hardly exhaustive, this is a few of the best ways to do the worst thing. If you don’t like this list, you’re wrong and you should feel bad about yourself.

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