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Learn These Tricks to Strike up a Conversation with Any Strangers

Learn These Tricks to Strike up a Conversation with Any Strangers

A lot of us have been in this situation:

You plan to go to a party with a friend, but at the last moment they drop out. You decide to go anyway, figuring that, chances are, you’ll know someone there.

But upon going to the party you find a place full of total strangers. If you’re anything like I was, you’d spend in the corner, quietly by yourself until someone spoke to you. That, or go home.

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The above has happened to me quite frequently. Whatever fear, or psychological barrier that stopped me from simply speaking to someone seemed an insurmountable obstacle. Yet I wanted nothing more than to speak. Though with me it was good old fashioned social anxiety, but there can be many reasons for having trouble speaking to strangers.

You may even find that some strangers you can speak to with ease, but others, things are much more difficult. But why?

Why can speaking to strangers be so hard?

If you find it harder to speak to some more than others, it’s possible that you consciously or subconsciously consider there to be a greater risk.[1] Perhaps this is a person you find attractive, is someone you want to become good friends, or someone who may be able to introduce you to new and interesting people.

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While talking to them you might find yourself in a state of analysis, and fear that you may be saying something that will make them go away, or even dislike you. Doing this, and holding a conversation at the same time is near enough impossible. It can be extremely disheartening too, especially if you feel they have social skills on a level above you (to them, its possible you seem fine).

The sense of risk may also be the same cause for not talking if you face a room full of strangers, you want to go up to someone and speak. But in your mind the want to make a great first impression seems incredibly difficult. So you say nothing or nothing comes up.

This is hugely exacerbated if you have social anxiety disorder. Which at times feels like a prison exclusive to you, however, social anxiety is the third most common mental health issue, behind alcoholism and depression.[2] So, in a room full of people, its perfectly possible that many people are having, the same difficulties talking to strangers, but may have coping mechanisms, or social skills built out of tremendous strain.

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You know, and I know that overcoming this is very important for personal development. Talking to strangers is ultimately something you will have to do daily. Finding it difficult, or even impossible has, I think held me back immeasurably, perhaps you know this too?

How can I overcome the social anxiety?

Despite the way it feels, these problems and difficulties are extremely common. Many people privately go through these hardships. Some have overcome them completely, or have just developed more social and communication skills than they used to have. But its important to know that any difficulties you have can be overcome.

Personally, I found that silly small talk was a fine way to break down the barriers, I felt no need to worry about impressing them. You are for them to know as much as they are for you to know… if that make sense.

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There are hundreds of other ways.

  • Some even suggest initiating a casual game of tic-tac-toe.[3] If they decide to play, you can be mentally focused on the game, and not the conversation. Perhaps you might even find that words come more freely as you are no longer thinking about what to say, but playing the game.
  • Smile, people find happy people more approachable. If you seem quiet in the corner, people may misinterpret that as being standoffish. If you smile, they may initiate the conversation with you, without you needing to initiate things with them.
  • Before you start talking, don’t worry about the outcome of the conversation of have any aims or desires about getting anything from it.[4] This should help alleviate any pressure you may feel.
  • Remind yourself that they are strangers, you’ve gone through your life without them having an opinion of you, if the extremely unlikely event of them thinking negatively of you, or are unaffected by the conversation. Then literally nothing has changed.
  • If you are talking, but don’t know how to keep the conversation going, avoid the desire to keep asking questions. Though this encourages them to talk instead of you, it puts them at a bit of pressure to answer. They may find them feeling as if they are being interviewed.
    Instead maybe talking about where you are, observations, or if you want to know more about them, make a statement that encourages a reply.[5] Like “This is a pretty nice X, I’m glad I came”
    This may also make you seem relaxed and outgoing.
  • Be aware that nobody likes awkward silences and conversations, so if you find yourself in one, its as much up to them to resolve it as it is up to you.
  • Be interested in people. Pretty much all social interaction is wrapped in protocol and asinine small talk. It can be rare to talk to someone who seems genuinely interested in you or what you have to say. If you are the one with that interest in people. Then they will flock to you.

There are of course hundreds of books and articles about this subject (you are reading one!). I recommend Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. It is a classic for a reason.

Reference

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Last Updated on February 19, 2019

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

No one wants to suffer. As a general rule, people like to avoid hurt and pain as much as possible. As a species, humans want a painless existence so much that scientists make a living trying to create it.

People can now choose “pain-free” labor for babies, and remedies to cure back pain, headaches, body-pains and even mental pains are a dime a dozen. Beyond medicine, we also work hard to experience little pain even when it comes to loss; often times we believe a breakup won’t hurt as much if we are the ones to call it off.

But would a world without pain truly be painless? It’s unlikely. In fact, it would probably be painful exactly for that reason.

If people never experienced hurt, they wouldn’t know what it was. On the surface level, that seems like a blessing, but think for a moment: if we didn’t know pain, how would we know peace? If you don’t know you’ve hurt or been hurt, how would you know that you need to heal? Imagine someone only knowing they have an incurable cancer at the final stage because no obvious symptoms have appeared at early stages.

Without the feeling of pain, people won’t be aware of dangerous situations—what should or shouldn’t do for survival.

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Pain Is Our Guardian

Pain serves to protect human beings from harmful actions. It’s the same reason parents teach babies that fire equals hot, and that hot equals hurt. Should the baby still place its hand in a fire or on a stove, the intense pain remains so memorable, that the child is certain never to repeat that action.

In the same way, pain within human bodies can serve as a warning that something is not right. Because you know what it is to feel “well,” you know what it is to feel poorly.[1]

Along with serving as a teacher of what not to do, pain also teaches you what you are made of in terms of what you can handle as an individual.

While the cliche, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a tired term, it’s used excessively for a reason: it’s true. Pain helps you learn to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties and sadnesses— to develop the grit it takes to push past hardships and carry on.

Whether it’s a shattering pain, like the loss of a loved one or a debilitating accident, pain affects everyone differently. But it still affects everyone. Take a breakup as an example, anyone who has experienced it knows it can hurt to the point of feeling physical. Especially the first breakup. At a young age, it feels like the loss of the only love you’ll ever know. As you grow and learn, you realize you’re more resilient with every ended relationship.

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No Pain, No Happiness

You only know happiness when you have known pain. While the idea of constant happiness sounds nice, there is little chance it would be. Without the comparison to happiness, there’s no reason to be grateful for it. That is to say, without ever knowing sadness or pain, you would have no reason to be grateful for happiness.

In reality, there is always something missing, or something unpleasant, but it is only through those realizations that you know to be grateful when you feel you have it all. Read more about why happiness and pain have to exist together: Chasing Happiness Won’t Make You Happy

In a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, researchers found one of the things that brings about the most happiness is challenge. When people are tested, they experience a greater sense of accomplishment and happiness when they are successful. It is largely for this reason that low-income individuals can often feel happier than those who have a sense of wealth.[2]

This is a great thing to remember the next time you feel you would be happier if you just had a little more cash.

Avoiding Pain Leads to More Suffering

Pain is inevitable, embrace it positively. Anyone who strives to have a painless life is striving for perfectionism; and perfectionism guarantees sadness because nothing will ever be perfect.

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This isn’t a bleak outlook, but rather a truthful one. The messy moments in life tend to create the best memories and gratitude. Pain often serves as a reminder of lessons learned, much like physical scars on the body.

Pain will always be painful, but it’s the hurt feelings that help wiser decisions be made.

Allow Room for the Inevitable

Learning how to tolerate pain, especially the emotional kind, is a valuable lesson.

Accepting and feeling pain makes you human. There is no weakness in that. Weakness only comes when you try to blame your own pain on someone else, expecting the blame to alleviate your hurting. There’s a saying,

“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

Think back to the last time you were really angry with someone. Maybe you were hurt because you got laid off from a job. You felt angry and that anger caused so much pain that you could feel it in a physical way. Being angry and blaming your ex boss for that pain didn’t affect him or her in any way; you’re the only one who lost sleep over it.

The healthier thing to do in a situation like that is acknowledge your pain and the anger along with it. Accept it and explore it in an introspective way. How can you learn and grow? What is at the root of that pain? Are you truly hurting and angry about being laid off, or is the pain more a correlation to you feeling like you failed?

While uncomfortable, exploring your pain is a way to raise your self-awareness. By understanding more about yourself, you know how to deal with similar situations in the future. You can never expect to be numb to difficult situations, but you will learn to better prepare financially for the loss of a job and be grateful for an income since you now know nothing is promised (no matter how much you work or how deserving you may feel).

Pain Hurts, but Numbness Would Be Worse

Pain does not feel good, but the bad feeling of it will help you learn and grow. It makes the sweet moments in life even sweeter and the gratitude more sincere.

To have a happier and more successful life, you don’t learn from success or accomplishment, but through pain and failures. For it is in those moments that you learn how to do better in the future or at least cope a little more easily.

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You are the strong person you are today because of the hardships this life has presented to you. While you may have felt out of control when those hard times came, the one thing you will always have control over is how you choose to react to things. The next time you hurt or you’re angry or sad, acknowledge it and allow yourself to ruminate in it. Then take a deep breath and start learning from that pain. You’ve got this!

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1] University of Calgary: Why is Pain Important?
[2] Greater Good Magazine: The Importance of Pain

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