Ritual questions are easy to answer requests for information. Although basically requests for personal background or general information, they also convey this message: “I’m interested in getting to know you better.”

Breaking the Ice – A compliment or Comment Followed by a Ritual Question.

Ritual questions can be used to break the ice with a man you don’t know and wish to speak to. The easiest way to start a conversation with a man is to employ one of the three following openings. First, notice something interesting about the man you wish to speak with and, in a friendly and sincere manner, offer a compliment. Quickly follow the compliment with a ritual questions that is directly related to the compliment you just gave. The “opening line” might be: “That’s a beautiful ring you’re wearing! What kind of stone is it?” or “Say, you’re a terrific skater! How did you learn to do all those tricks?”

A second way to break the ice is to notice something that the man is carrying — maybe a book, musical instrument, or a piece of sporting equipment. After establishing eye contact and smiling, ask a ritual question based on the object. For example, if you see someone carrying a tennis racket, you could say something like: “excuse me, but could you recommend a good place to take tennis lessons?” or “Do you know a good place to play without having to wait for a court?” or “I notice you have a racket like the one I’m interested in buying. How do you like it?” or “I see you’re a tennis player. I want to start playing. Can you recommend a good racket for a beginner?”

If you see a man reading or carrying a book, you can ask how he likes it. If a person has a musical instrument, you can ask him what kind of music he plays, where he plays or studies, how long he has been playing, or how you might get involved. If you see someone taking photographs, you could ask him about the type of camera he has or if he is a professional or amateur photographer. These questions can be applied to almost any object a person is carrying. It is a safe and friendly way of showing someone you’ve noticed him, while breaking the ice and starting a conversation at the same time.

A third way to break the ice and start a conversation is to make a comment or ask a questions based on the situation. This can be a request for information like: “Say, excuse me, but I’m looking for an apartment in the neighborhood. Do you happen to know of any places that might be for rent?” Another common questions might be: “I’m looking for a good place to eat nearby.

Can you recommend a restaurant in the neighborhood? If you see someone who looks like she needs some assistance, then offering to help is an excellent way to start a conversation. You might say: “You look a little lost. Are you looking for someplace in particular? I live in the neighborhood – maybe I can help you.”

Ritual questions are good for breaking the ice and starting a conversation. By looking for what people are involved in, you can easily focus on topic of interest to the other person. Remember, in addition to finding out about the other person, you are sending this signal: “You seem interesting to me, and I’d like to get to know you better!”