I don’t have much trouble starting and maintaining a conversation but I do know this is a challenge for many. Even I get stumped occasionally.

I recently heard about an interesting technique that sounds like an automobile but it makes a lot of sense. FORD is an acronym to help people come up with discussion points when social interaction becomes difficult…

FAMILY: Most people have a family of some kind… you can ask someone if they have any siblings? Where they grew up? Do they have children?
Take a moment to listen, focus on their answers and ask more questions.

OCCUPATION: While I try not to sound materialistic when I ask this, what we do for a living is a huge part of who we are. Ask them what they do for work? If they enjoy what they do? What would they love to do if they had the chance?
This can open up many lines of discussion and you might find some common interests to discuss.

RECREATION: Who doesn’t love a good recreational activity! What are their hobbies? Great passions? Deepest creative desires? If they haven’t pursued any of their passions, when are they planning to start?
Recreation can be a huge passion point for people and it can really get the conversation rolling.

DREAMS: Do you have a bucket list? What is on your bucket list? When will you start ticking things off? Ask them if they could do anything, what would it be? What did they dream of when they were a child that they still haven’t done.
You never know, by having this discussion they might actually start planning their own dream fulfilment. Also, you might find that you have some dreams in common.
For each of these points, the key is to listen. If you listen to their answer then you will know what to talk about next. Too often people talk and don’t listen. You’ve got two ears and one mouth so try to use them accordingly… it makes for better conversation.
So, the next time you’re stuck in a going nowhere conversation, remember FORD and see for yourself how these simple talking points can bring us all a bit closer to understanding each other.