One of the rules of “polite language” is to never put anybody on the spot.
This is the reason we use the second conditional when making polite requests.
In case you forgot grammar school, the “second conditional” is an “if-then” form of a question that uses the past tense, and “would,” as it only speaks to hypothetical situations.
Like, “If I saw a UFO, I would take a picture,” meaning that it’s not likely, but if it DID happen, I’d take a picture.
When we talk about things that are likely, we use the first conditional. Present tense and “will.”
If it rains, I will get wet.
The reason we use hypothetical language when asking polite questions, is because it puts it off into “pretend land.”
For example, if I wanted to ask a coworker to open the window, I could say it not politely, “will you open the window?” or politely, “Would you open the window?”
If it’s in the “will” form, it feels a lot more “on the spot.”
When starting conversations with strangers, it’s important to start off with simple statements and questions that also don’t make them feel “on the spot.”
An easy way to do this is with “pacing statements.” Say something about the environment that is verifiably true. Something that they have to agree with. Something that’s easy to agree with.
The main purpose of any ice breaker is to ease into a conversation. Not to show off how clever you are or to impress them with your wit.
Once you get them talking, and used to you, you can then begin to peel back the onion layers and ask more penetrating questions.
Questions that will get them excited to talk to you. Questions that will get them thinking in terms of their ideal future.
Start off easy, go slowly and within ten or twenty minutes they’ll be sharing with you their biggest dreams and goals and visions.
Not only that, but they’ll also be seeing YOU through that filter you’ll be helping them create.
Of course, this does take practice, but if you start practicing today, pretty soon you’ll be a social super star, making everybody feel fantastic whenever you’re around.