Appetizers for Effective Conversation

Appetizers for Effective Conversation by Jeannie Waters

Whether we’re dining with friends and family or waiting for our table with strangers, we can offer warm greetings as an appetizer to fruitful conversation.

Mediterranean, Platter, Food, Gourmet

Let’s think about dinner appetizers.

Imagine sitting on your friend’s sofa as she serves an appetizer tray. You pop a small slice of green fruit into your mouth and immediately wish you hadn’t.

One eye closes involuntarily like you’ve been sucking lemons all day, and you shudder to the core of your being. Your mouth purses into fish lips as the inside of your cheeks pucker and meet in the middle.

Cheese, Grapes, Cheese Platter, Dessert

Green persimmons do not a tasty appetizer make.

Imagine instead popping a bite of your favorite cheese into your mouth. A much better introduction to a meal, wouldn’t you say?

Just as cheese, shrimp cocktail, and veggies with dip provide a smooth transition into a hearty meal, warm greetings pave the way to conversation. Whether we meet strangers or friends, cordial exchanges wake up the palate of the human heart to enjoy conversation and create relationships.

Whether we meet strangers or friends, cordial exchanges wake up the pallet of the human heart to enjoy conversation and create relationships. Click To Tweet

Paul, a communicator inspired by God, included warm greetings in the letters he wrote. Those letters, now books of the Bible, still encourage us today.

Book, Bible, Religion, Reading, Study

Paul inspired readers and listeners of his words to acknowledge and welcome each other and then asked them to share his messages. In Colossians 4:7-9 he mentioned two co-workers by name, Tychicus and Onesimus, whom he sent to visit fellow believers. He intended for them to encourage hearts and share ministry news.

The greetings in Paul’s letters and those he extended in-person forged relationships. They also opened the door for instruction and offered motivation to serve others and continue the work of sharing the gospel.

How can we offer warm greetings like delectable appetizers to spark fruitful conversation and build relationships? How can we acknowledge, include, and serve others?

A few smiles and cheery words can welcome those who may be on the periphery of a group. People feel ostracized and unworthy to participate when we ignore them and fail to involve them in conversation. Without the appetizer of a greeting to welcome them, they may not engage in listening or contributing.

God provides conversations and leads us to encourage those we meet and share the joy of walking with Jesus. If they lack hope, we can share the hope we have in Christ. He blesses us with opportunities to serve others for His glory.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you.

1 Peter 3:15 ESV

Let’s strive to notice people and show genuine interest in them. Warm greetings truly offer opportunities to engage in fruitful conversation and may help build or strengthen relationships.

Here’s a recipe with ingredients that foster engaging conversations.

Conversation Appetizer

Basil, Food, Vegetables, Cheese

1. Consider the needs of each participant.

2. Add generous dollops of warm smiles and eye contact during a group meal or gathering.

3. Sprinkle in a few questions to include everyone in the conversation.

4. Season the greetings with attentive listening.

This recipe yields encouraging conversations to open the door to deeper or new relationships and spark opportunities to share the love of Christ.

people sitting in front of table talking and eating
Your comments are encouraging. Please tell us the ways others have greeted you warmly and embraced you in conversation. How do you include others and open conversations?

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32 thoughts on “Appetizers for Effective Conversation

  1. Jimmie+Annette+Ballard

    Thank you for another blessing on this cool morning.

  2. Thank you, Jimmie Annette for your kind words. When the temperature dropped, I started thinking about soup when I finished this post.

  3. A smile can open the door to conversation and friendships. I am thankful God gives us ways to communicate and to show His love. When my husband and I moved from VA to SC, we didn’t know anyone in the new neighborhood. People began arriving to welcome us. What a joy to be included in the fellowship of special new friends.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Melissa, I’m thankful you and your husband enjoyed friendly greetings in a new neighborhood. That keeps new residents from feeling like an outsider. I love the way you said “the fellowship of new friends.” That description is heart-warming. Like you, I’m grateful God gifts us with the opportunity to show His love.

  4. Traci Lincoln Artman

    What a wonderful way to start my day…with an appetizer straight from His word. Jeannie, your writing does warm my heart and give me a positive look and start to this brisk morning. Joy😇

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Traci, what joy for me to read that the words God gave me warmed your heart on this cool morning. He always knows exactly what we need and His words are indeed appetizers for a beautiful day of walking with Him. Thank you so much for taking the time to add your thoughts.

  5. Love the comparison of warm cordial conversations to tasty appetizers. Sets the stage for deeper conversations and building connections with people God brings our way. Thank you, Jeannie.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Thank you, Mala, for reading the post and offering kind comments. After God led me to this idea, I started thinking of my morning time with Him as an appetizer for a brand new day. I love your statement that “warm, cordial conversations set the stage for deeper conversations and building connections with people God brings our way.” Mala, your words encouraged me today.

  6. Thank you Jeannie for this sweet reminder. Sometimes in the hustle and bustle we tend to overlook those we don’t know as well as others. I’ve been in that situation and know just how it feels. Thank you so much for your sweet writings. Looking forward to your appetizer recipes.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Sandy, like you, I remember the feeling of being overlooked at times. I’m sure God uses those memories to remind us to reach out to others. What a wise observation you shared: “Sometimes in the hustle and bustle we tend to overlook those we don’t know as well as others.” Your comments mean so much. I’m grateful the posts are blessings to you.

  7. You made my jaws hurt just thinking about that green persimmon! And that illustration so aptly teaches us how important our first words and attention can be when we are in the company of newcomers (and even those we already know). We all need affirmation and the best words are those from the Holy Spirit. We are told to let our speech be filled with grace and seasoned with salt. Thank you for the menu, Jeannie!

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Barbara, I smiled when I read your first sentence. 🙂 I love your statements: “We all need affirmation and the best words are those from the Holy Spirit. We are told to let our speech be filled with grace and seasoned with salt.” Words of grace and the “salt” of the Word sprinkled into conversation make our words more valuable. You reminded us of the importance of prayer and Bible study which fill our minds and hearts with truth to share. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

  8. Thank you for your post, Jeannie! Sometimes I have a tendency to get down to “business” when I talk with people, skipping over the usual niceties in the name of efficiency. But you have shown me the great importance of taking time to build the foundation for effective conversation before jumping in. I enjoy a good appetizer. One of my much-needed verses is “Let your speech be always seasoned with salt [not tabasco sauce]…” [brackets are mine, of course]. May the Lord help me to remember to always use properly-seasoned greetings in addressing others. (Sounds like a theme for Christmas. Haha!)

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Glenda, I appreciate your valuable addition to this conversation. I laughed at “not tabasco sauce.” 🙂 You included a wise prayer focus for all of us: “May the Lord help me to remember to always use properly-seasoned greetings in addressing others.” I love Christmas themes! 😉

  9. Thank you, Jeanie for the visual reminder of the importance of intentional connection. Appetizers have now taken on a very special meaning. What a great opening message to a small group meeting.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Susan, I’m glad the visual reminder is helpful. I love your word choice of “intentional connection” for the opportunities God gives us. I’ve been viewing appetizers differently, too, since God led me to this message. Your comments mean so much to me. Thank you.

  10. As an introvert, I’ve been on the outside of many conversations. I learned to be braver and participate in “small talk.” But I wanted to do more to encourage those, like me, who are shy about engaging in conversation. I worked on learning to ask questions that invite the other person to feel comfortable and involved in a discussion. Your message is so helpful in guiding us to reach out and engage others. That sets up an opportunity to show the love of Jesus to others. Thank you for sharing.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Katherine, I think we’ve all been in situations when we didn’t feel “a part” of the group or included enough to brave engaging. The experience you shared underlines the importance of using appetizer greetings to reach out to those who may not feel included. Your effort to ask questions is a beautiful way to embrace others into the conversation. Genuine interest expressed in question form fosters further conversation and often forges relationships. I appreciate your valuable input.

  11. Always good food for thought Jeannie! Thanks!

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Thank you, Sylvia. I’m sure you’d add “pun intended.” 😉 I’m thankful for the opportunities God gives us to share the good news and encourage others in conversation.

  12. I can’t think of a more perfect person to have written this wonderful post Ms. Jeannie. As I was reading the words, my mind pictured that way you invite others into fellowship with such kindness and compassion. Something I’ve long admired is how you treat a first-time guest like a long-tenured friend. Thank you for living out your words ma’am. And yes, I can still remember those green persimmons from childhood. Yuck! I shivered thinking about that. 🙂

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      J. D., I appreciate your kind words. I enjoy the opportunities God gives us to invite others into conversations and fellowship. I often say my hobby is meeting new people which I do enjoy. Shiver is a good word for green persimmons! 🙂

  13. Wonderful post, Jeannie! Yes, when we include others, we live out what Jesus intends us to do….. Be kind and loving to all.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Evelyn, I’m glad you mentioned that Jesus intends for His followers to “be kind and loving to all.” He set a good example, didn’t He? Simply including others paves the way for us to offer His love and kindness to them. I appreciate your comments so much.

  14. I love how you led into how important greetings can be for establishing relationships! Your recipe for making a visit special for all was right on!

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Thanks, Kathy. I’m glad you thought so. When I’ve been the newbie in a group, a smile and simple greeting make me feel welcome. Each conversation is an opportunity to reach out to someone. I’m glad God gives us this gift for interacting with those we meet on our path. I appreciate your comments.

  15. I love the creativity of this post. It was a pleasure to read as well as a powerful reminder to be more intentional in inviting others into the conversation. Thank you Jeannie

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Candyce, this one was fun to write, and I’m thrilled you enjoyed it. I like the way you phrased the reminder, “to be more intentional in inviting others into the conversation.” Watching for opportunities to bless others with warm greetings is a daily adventure. I appreciate your kind words.

  16. Hi Jeannie,

    A smile and kind word can make such a difference in someone’s day. Thank you for these wonderful words and for drawing such truth from Paul’s introductions.


    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Thank you, Tammy, for sharing your thoughts. You’re right that a simple smile or kind word can make an impact. Paul had so much to say that I find it amazing he spent so many words encouraging the listeners and readers of his letters. A good example for us, isn’t it?

  17. Jeannie, what a wonderful post. “Warm greetings truly offer opportunities to engage in fruitful conversation and may help build or strengthen relationships.” Great food for thought! May we all take the opportunities presented to greet others warmly and share the love of Jesus. Thank you for sharing.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Thanks for your comment, Dawn. I agree we need to embrace opportunities to share the love of Jesus with others. Smiles and warm greetings can make people feel noticed. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

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