CV Escrow | How to Start Conversations with Strangers: A Few Thoughts From Our President, Jeff Russell
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FORD system jeff russell

How to Start Conversations with Strangers: A Few Thoughts From Our President, Jeff Russell

Here’s more about communication. I realized I haven’t written about the F.O.R.D. system of communication. Some of you have probably heard me speak about it. 

The whole concept is based on helpful ways to start an engaging conversation when you meet someone new. Let’s look at each part before we dive in fully: Family, Occupation, Recreation, Dreams. 

From industry conferences to meeting a new co-worker or a first date, for many of us, starting a conversation with a stranger can feel awkward at times. That’s normal, but tools like the F.O.R.D. system can make these situations more comfortable to deal with and more enjoyable. 

An alternative system for communication is the F.A.S.T. system, which includes Family, Activities, School, and Them. This is a spin on F.O.R.D. that our organization created for our Backpack Day to ensure questions were included that were a better fit for communication with young adults and children. 

Of course, with both of these systems you’ll want to select the questions you ask based on what’s appropriate for the situation you are in. For example, you probably won’t ask the same questions at an industry event as you would at a friend’s birthday party, so keep that in mind. 

One of my favorite starting-off questions is: “Where are you from originally?” It usually leads to a conversation about family, activity, school, them, etc. 

To help get you started with using it, here are some jumping-off points for both the F.O.R.D. and F.A.S.T. systems: 


F: Family 

  • How many siblings do you have? 
  • Do you have pets?


O: Occupation 

  • How did you get into your field? 
  • Did you know you always wanted to do this growing up?


R: Recreation

  • What do you do for fun? 
  • What’s your favorite way to spend a weekend?


D: Dreams

  • What’s a bucket list item you haven’t crossed off? 
  • If you could do any other job in the world, what would it be? 



F: Family

  • Do you have a large family? 
  • Do you have any really cool traditions?


A: Activity

  • What’s your favorite sporting event to watch or attend? What makes it your favorite? 
  • Do you have a favorite hobby? How did you get into it?


S: School 

  • What did you major in during college? Did it help you as a REALTOR®? 
  • What was your favorite subject in high school? What made it so special to you?


T: Them 

  • What’s your absolute favorite food? Least favorite? 
  • If you could visit one city in the world, what would it be? Why?


The cool thing about both the F.O.R.D. and F.A.S.T. systems is that asking just one question to start small talk will probably spawn a really interesting hour-long conversation. 

Life is good. – Jeff 

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