Guys nowadays think that buying the drink gives you permission to talk to and even harass that person.

Also, when listening to others speaking, smile (unless they're relating tales of their latest messy divorce). People who worry about not knowing what to say forget that when you communicate with someone else, you have the use of two brains. If you instigate a bonfire by lighting a match, then it burns. Introduce yourself and shake their hand: "Hi, I'm Mark. " Remember, when you approach someone for a chat, it's not just you; it's the two of you. A relative of mine had an almost military style of socially interrogating people. No one likes to be regaled with masses of detail about the car insurance form you filled out that morning (unless you can make it particularly amusing). "If you find something funny (and it's not their appearance), then say so.

If you see the other person's eyes glaze, notice rigor mortis setting in, or suspect they may be doing a closed-mouth, face-expanding yawn, you might just be committing slow boredom homicide. People appreciate humour (and if they don't, maybe you need to be talking to someone else).

This means anything you say is more likely to feel right (within sensible limits). But gentle, not too probing, questions show you're interested (and people find interested people interesting).

To help you feel this relaxed confidence when starting a conversation, check out the free audio session at the bottom of this page. Asking someone about themselves gives them the opportunity to help the conversation get going.

If you ever feel afraid to start conversations with strangers, put the following ideas into practice and ramp up your conversation-starter self-confidence even with the most dour of people. Start by asking them about themselves as connected to the situation. This is fine as some kind of opener, but the conversation could end there if you don't take heed of the next tip.

Before approaching your victim - sorry, target - no, err, imminent conversational partner, don't keep nervously looking at them as if they are a small pool at the bottom of a huge dive you're about to take. You're not 'taking the plunge' or risking everything; you're just being sociable. In this way, you initiate conversation by getting them to speak. If we don't light a fire in the right way, it may not take - and it's the same with conversation.

If after you've attempted to get a conversation going the other person really doesn't seem to want to talk, then don't take it personally.

As long as you aren't:then they must just be having an off night - or perhaps they need to learn a few conversational skills themselves. To have the confidence to start conversations, it's a great idea to train your brain beforehand.

Sadly there's no blanket for what does land, but still-confident-and-a-little-self-deprecating is usually a solid approach that can be really charming when used well.” Dan Gentile is a staff writer on Thrillist's National Food and Drink team.