You’re in a bar. You and your friends have laid claim to a cozy nook of space in the general vicinity of an attractive group of girls. Eyes wander; tension builds. You’re trying to recreate the approximate posture, gesticulations, and facial expressions of someone interesting, nonchalant, impressive. You realize that if one of you doesn’t break the invisible line separating you from the females soon, your flirting will border on leering and they will deem you creepy and move on. So now you are presented with that most unnerving of moments: the one at which you actually have to converse. With a girl. And you have no idea what to say.

If this doesn’t sound familiar, I salute you. You must be one of those swashbuckling and most enviable of gentlemen who has already conquered his juvenile fear of talking to girls and perhaps — gasp! — being rejected. For the rest of us, there’s this: advice from a living, breathing, blog-savvy girl (she goes by Naomi Piercey) about how to start a conversation without coming off as a weirdo/@$$hole/other variation of undesirable.

Related: 20 First Date Conversation Starters That Aren’t Played Out

She breaks down effective strategies for starting a conversation thus:

1) Silly can be just as appealing as intelligent.

In lieu of asking for a girl’s take on Rihanna’s recent artistic reinvention and the role her highly publicized break from Chris Brown played, Naomi suggests you try this: “What’s Rihanna thinking getting back with Chris Brown? I mean you wouldn’t re-order from the same street truck that gave you food poisoning, right?”

2) Share your interests without summarizing your life story.

A simple anecdote about your upbringing (as opposed to full-fledged biography) can give her some insight into your past without putting her to sleep. Likewise, offhandedly dropping a comment about a comedian or show you watch will give her an idea of your sense of humor. As a creative writing teacher of mine once said, “Show, don’t tell.”

Related: 5 Common First Date Fears That You Really Don’t Need to Worry About

3) Shut up and listen.

Once things get rolling, feel free to fire some questions at her and affect your best attentive face. As Naomi notes: “Girls love talking about themselves.”

4) Own the awkward silence.

As in, don’t make it awkward. Try to suggest to her that long pauses don’t bother you (even though they probably do). How do you do this? I’m not really sure (Some advice columnist you are!). Watch Ryan Gosling in Drive. Take notes. He manages to come off as some kind of contemporary Humphrey Bogart/James Bond hybrid without stringing together more than half a sentence for the better part of a two-hour movie.


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