Kids, this blog post isn’t for you. Ignore everything you read here and listen to your Mom. You should not talk to strangers. Everyone else, forget what your Mom said. Talk to strangers. It’s good practice for trying out all of your small talk skills. Besides, you never know if that stranger will become a friend.
When you move somewhere new, you’re on the hunt for people to hang out with, but you need to play it cool. You want to bring your A-Game on your first day of work or when you’re meeting the other moms at school for the first time. However, you need to practice first. That’s where those delightful strangers come into play. They’re going to help you through this.
5 Tips on How to Talk to Strangers:
Assume a confident pose before approaching any new situation
The simplest thing you can do to feel more confident about meeting new people is to change your posture. Hold your shoulders back, your head up high, and your chest puffed out. It feels weird at first if you’re not used to doing this. Nevertheless, research shows that it will increase your confidence, so it’s worth going through the awkward phase. Plus, you look spectacular. Any time you walk through a door or get out of your car, get into your confident pose and then work your magic.
Dazzle ‘em with your million dollar smile
Maybe you’re not quite sure which smile is your million dollar smile, so practice. Lock your bathroom door and see what works for you. There are different types of smiles, so avoid the sarcastic or fake smile. What you’re aiming for is a smile that makes your eyes sparkle. Now let the smile emerge slowly so that the recipient knows that your smile is meant just for her. Practice on strangers to see which of your smiles produces the best reaction from others.
When you talk to strangers, count how many times they blink
This tip only works if the stranger is talking to you. Otherwise, it can get uncomfortable. Imagine asking someone for directions. When the person answers, you want to look into her eyes to show that you are listening.
Challenge yourself to remember the color of the person’s eyes or count how many times she blinked. When you first start doing this, it may be difficult to concentrate on counting blinks and listening to directions. You can always ask another stranger for directions later. Right now just focus on improving eye contact with others.
Strike up conversations everywhere and anywhere (except during your morning commute)
So, this tip didn’t work out so well for an American in London who wanted to talk to strangers on the London Tube. Therefore, I’ve added a caveat. If you’re imposing on cultural norms, save the small talk for later. Otherwise, jump right in with a simple, “What do you think of this crazy weather we’re having?” Practice any chance you get. Just not in London during rush hour.
Don’t worry about sounding erudite
People often feel concerned that they won’t say the right thing when making small talk. Honestly, it doesn’t matter what you say. Pretty much anything goes when striking up a conversation, even “I carried a watermelon.” The only thing you want to avoid is complaining or criticizing things. To keep it easy, talk about the weather or compliment a stranger’s earrings or ask for help with something.
Why You Should Talk to Strangers
Now that you know how to prepare for talking to strangers, here’s why you should do this. You will fumble your way through some of this when you first start out. We all do. It’s better to figure out what you need to work on when you’re talking to someone that you’ll never see again. Your primary goal in talking to strangers is to help you improve your communication skills.
After moving ten times in eleven years, I had no choice but to get out there and meet people. It wasn’t easy in the beginning since it was completely out of my comfort zone. It got easier. It’s still a challenge to enter a room filled with strangers, but at least I know I’ll survive it and so will you. As an added bonus, you’ll probably meet some fascinating people in your new city.