How do you get good at talking to strangers?
From radiate positivity to join Toastmasters, here are 14 answers to the question, “How do you become better at talking to strangers?”
- Attend Events and Parties With a Friend
- Ask About Them
- Give a Compliment
- Visualize the Conversation First
- Join Toastmasters
- Practice Starting a Conversation Every Day
- Use Authentic Gestures and Actions
- Radiate Positivity
- Find the Common Ground
- Start with a light conversation
- Avoid personalizing everything
- Don’t Push
- Prepare 2 Or 3 Topics
- Be Calm When a Conversation Goes Off Script
Attend Events and Parties With a Friend
You can get better at talking to strangers if you attend parties and events with people you trust or at least feel comfortable around. They’ll make things easier, as you can join them in conversations and get some practice with just a little bit of assistance.
Ask About Them
Engaging with someone you don’t know can be awkward. Specifically, you likely won’t have much to say to a person you don’t know well, which is understandable. A trick to keep the conversation flowing is to give the other person a chance to offer some information about themselves that you can inquire about or relate to. If you ask about what sort of work they do, you might then inquire about the specifics of the job. This will give your conversation partner a chance to elaborate on themselves, which you can use to gather a bit more information to keep the conversation going afterward. Don’t be too pushy, however; you’ll want to be ready to provide an equal level of information about yourself, so leave some space for them to inquire and be an active role in the conversation. Any communication between people will be a give-and-take. Provide opportunities to share for each of you, and the conversation will flow much more naturally.
Agreeing with Max, Dakota McDaniels, Chief Product Officer, Pluto says most people love to talk about themselves–it’s also naturally the easiest topic for most people to talk about, so they’ll be happy to oblige. Ask where they’re from, what hobbies they’re into, what they do for a living, or what they studied in school. Oftentimes, you’ll see someone’s true personality come through when they’re talking about their interests. They’ll be excited to share with you, and you might even find that you have something in common.
Give a Compliment
Start the conversation with a compliment. This ensures the discussion begins on a high note. Consider complimenting your neighbor on their shoes or their bag. People love to receive compliments, so by giving one, you may get one in return. It can be scary to talk to someone new, but this is a friendly approach to meeting strangers.
Visualize the Conversation First
If you’re nervous about meeting and talking to strangers, then visualize those conversations first. Spend a few seconds imagining the conversation you’re about to have. Picture yourself walking up to the stranger, introducing yourself, and shaking hands. See the other person responding with a warm smile and accepting your introduction. Then, go introduce yourself. The worst thing that can happen is they will ignore you. If that happens, then nothing has changed in your life. If they respond in kind, then your life may become better.
If you want to become a pro at talking to strangers, Toastmasters will help you get there. Everyone in attendance shares a common goal: to improve their public speaking. If you can consistently practice speaking in front of new people, this provides you with more confidence and courage when communicating with strangers.
Practice Starting a Conversation Every Day
My tip to become better at talking to strangers is to be bold and start a conversation with a random stranger every day. We can challenge ourselves to start by making a small conversation with someone who passes by at the supermarket, street, workplace, or school. Not everyone is willing to talk, so we should not be discouraged by that. What is important from this practice is not the output of having someone talk to us, but more about being willing and brave to start a conversation, as well as being creative to come up with something to talk about with someone we do not know at all. The more we practice, the easier it will be to improve our conversational skills with others.
Use Authentic Gestures and Actions
One way to become better at talking to strangers is to do more listening. This can be best achieved by making eye contact when they are talking, and following up with questions that relate to the topic being discussed. These vocal and visual social cues show the person you are listening to that you are authentically engaged. A greater sense of respect is also developed when speaking with someone you do not know personally through using appropriate interpersonal skills.
Projecting positivity is one of the best practices for talking to strangers. Nothing reduces anxiety quite like trust in positivity. A positive attitude helps put one’s mind at ease and one will likely do the same for new acquaintances. Relaxed body language, consistent eye contact, and frequent smiles will go a long way.
First, Find the Common Ground
A discussion will flow more naturally, and you’ll connect with strangers if you find some common ground. Ask open-ended questions that encourage the other person to share their ideas and experiences to uncover common ground. Finding shared experiences or hobbies that might act as a discussion starter could be incredibly helpful. Additionally, keep an eye out for clues in the other person’s environment or look that might reveal their interests or hobbies. Ask them whether they enjoy the band and if they have seen them live, for instance, if they are wearing a t-shirt with the band’s name.
Begin with Some Light Conversation
In my opinion, the best way to start a conversation is with questions that are straightforward, easy to respond to, and not overly personal or intrusive. For instance, inquire about the weather, the latest news, or something that is happening in your immediate vicinity. This will help to break the ice and put the other person at ease so that you can proceed with the conversation.
Avoid Personalizing Everything
In my opinion, the most crucial thing to keep in mind while trying to start a conversation with a stranger is to never personalize ostensibly hostile responses from them. Some people are quiet, some are occupied, and some may even be illiterate in your language. Recognize that this is a necessary step in learning to have good conversations with strangers to prevent feeling rejected. In this manner, you can be prepared for it and try again with a different person. Knowing this can help you improve your practice, and practice is crucial. Practice is the key to mastering conversing with strangers, and it lies at the heart of everything. You’ll be able to overcome obstacles with practice.
Practice accepting when others don’t want to engage in conversation. One of the biggest things that hold people back when it comes to talking to strangers is a fear of embarrassment. What if you say something and the other person doesn’t respond? Do I try again? Do I just let the silence hang? These sorts of thoughts tend to give people pause when it comes to reaching out to talk to people they don’t know. It’s important to remember that there isn’t any real harm in getting only a short response or none at all. Some people you meet simply won’t be interested in conversing, and that’s entirely fine! You aren’t strange for trying to strike up a conversation nor are the other person or persons particularly rude if they choose not to engage. Connecting is great but not connecting isn’t a failure in any way. Take that stress off of yourself and leave any expectations at home. Even if you don’t manage to strike up a conversation, it doesn’t mean it’s pointless to try.
Prepare 2 Or 3 Topics
If you have a short script prepared for yourself when trying to speak with more strangers, it can help you get more comfortable. For example, if you work with a big company and just want to talk with more people in your large office who are strangers, come up with a few things to bring up to start the conversation. Perhaps the office has a new fancy coffee machine in the lunchroom. Well, tuck this away and plan to bring it up with strangers you see, like “Have you tried that new coffee machine in the lunchroom? It’s fantastic.” Or talk about the newly paved parking lot: “I’m happy to see they finally paved the parking lot.” Just have a few things prepared in case you see a stranger, say hello, and the opportunity for conversation is hanging in the air. It could be the start of a long conversation, and you’ll get more comfortable with bringing things up on the fly.
Be Calm When a Conversation Goes Off Script
Most shy people and those with a problem talking to strangers experience this problem because of a lack of patience whenever a conversation goes off script. A good example is if they are talking about cars and the conversation deviates from one about school. Rather than try to jump in and redirect the conversation, something that makes you look weird and uneasy, allow the stranger to finish their line of thought. Proceed to reconnect with the earlier topic you were discussing and get the conversation back on track. Doing this frequently will help you stay calm and become more confident when talking to strangers.
Submit Your Answer
Would you like to submit an alternate answer to the question, “How do you become better at talking to strangers?”