Great Opening Lines

Invite…clarify intention…listen…Mutual Role discovery
(Birthdays – yes, heavier conversations – no)


  • “I’d like to take about 1/5/30 minutes and . . .”
  • “Hey, do you have a few minutes to talk about the next step in the project?”
  • “Oh, I forget to tell you what happened! Do you have about 10 minutes to hear about it?”
  • “ . . . hmmm . . . let’s review how that went . . . is now a good time to chat for a little while?”
  • “You’re looking kinda busy right now; what would be a good time to chat for an hour about EPs?”
  • “Oh crap! Whew! Damn! Okay, wow, let’s step aside for a few minutes and review this, okay?”
  • “I’d love some help cleaning up. . . do you have 30 minutes you can give?” (light request)
  • “OMG, I just saw the funniest thing ever . . . have a seat for this 20-minute story!”
  • “Ah, okay, let me explain this to you . . . do you have about an hour to go over this in some detail?”
  • “I can’t figure out how to do this . . . could you help me this afternoon to make this better?”
  • “Hey John, I’m a little nervous/concerned/worried about what happened . . . can we talk for a few minutes now and follow up in more detail later?”


  • Self-express and/or Receive Empathy
  • Have another hear my feelings and needs (and perhaps strategies, which are often lead with)
  • R/R/V — Reading Minds — Simply Listen (actively)
  • Offer empathy (hear their feelings and needs)
  • Problem solve
  • Entertain
  • Provide some information
  • Make a request

Mutual Role Discovery

  • As the requester, you’re asking the requestee to take on specific role.
  • Check in to see if that role works for them. Some example roles include:
    • Receive information
    • Emotional support
    • Problem solver
    • Doer
  • And, like writing about one thing and simultaneously talking to someone else about another topic, it is best if each role is handled, moving from role to role with conscious agreement.


  • Check to see how the request/invitation landed.
  • What was their verbal response?
  • What was their NON-verbal response? Are they congruent?
  • Ready? Willing? Concerned? On-guard? Eager? Surprised?
  • If the conversation is going to fire up some emotions, both people want to be aware, ready, and willing to go down that path. When that doesn’t happen, you’ll likely get avoided more often, or have guarded reactions around you.