When meeting someone for the first time, one of the best conversation gifts you can get is to discover they are from another country. You will have lots of easy options for topics of conversation.
The mistake we make is that we get so focused on discussing their country and alternative cultural experience that we learn very little about them personally.
We ask questions about what their country is like and how it works. And while there is nothing wrong with that in itself because it is a good starting point, we would be wise to also take an interest in the person themselves. They are an individual, so don’t stick to questions that anyone from their country could answer. Find out about who they are.
While many people’s country of nationality will have some bearing on their identity, for most it is far from being the sum of them.
Try some of these conversation starters so you can learn about both them & their country:
- What is the biggest difference you have noticed between your country and here?
- What is your favourite thing about your country?
- What kinds of hobbies do you have there?
- Do you like it there?
And if by chance you have heard about a news story of note that has occurred in their country, ask them for their perspective on it.
There is so much to learn from an international person because their experience is so different to ours. But take the opportunity to learn about them, not just their country. It’s the difference between just having an interesting conversation and making a new friend.
There is the classic one-word answer caricature we have of teens. The problem isn’t just in the answers, the problem is also the dull questions.
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When we're in a forced conversation, the temptation is to default to light filler topics. But it's easy to have a gripping conversation with someone you have never met before. It could be more memorable than you expect.
The future is here. This is the new approach to conversation - the unexpected, the unconventional, the unpredictable.
When you talk to someone, you realise they have passions, struggles, quirks & hopes. The same as you. This is how conversation builds acceptance of diversity.