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10 Simple Ways To Talk With a Stranger Comfortably

10 Simple Ways To Talk With a Stranger Comfortably

Meeting strangers is probably one of most people’s biggest fears, next to speaking in front of a crowd. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be as scary an experience as you might think. These ten easy tips will help you talk with a stranger comfortably.

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    1. Go out alone.

    Don’t always go to events with a friend, significant other, or family member. Go alone, so you’re forced to meet other people. If you go with someone you’re familiar with, you’re more likely to stay and talk to the person you already know you can have conversations with. Also, you never know who your companion will know. What if some of their coworkers show up, and they leave you to go say hello? You’ll be left on your own anyway, so you need to get ready to be left on your own.

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    2. Be prepared to initialize contact.

    Once you’re at an event all by yourself, don’t wait for someone to come up and talk to you. People are called social butterflies because they flit around and meet others. Standing in the corner hoping someone will approach you won’t get you anywhere. Don’t psych yourself out and think this is a big deal‒introducing yourself is the only way you can meet someone new. Get out in the crowd and mingle!

    3. Don’t talk about the weather.

    No one wants to get stuck in a boring conversation. If you start with a corny pick-up line or a bland comment about the weather, don’t be surprised when the other person rolls their eyes or walks away. Lines like those don’t leave much room to encourage socialization‒they’re more stand-alone statements than they are conversation starters. Likewise, it’s best to stay away from political or religious openers. Even if these topics are in the news, you never know what might rub someone the wrong way. Wait until you know the person to discuss hard-hitting topics. If you can’t think of something interesting on your own, just start with a “Hello, how are you?” and see where it goes from there.

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    4. Encourage people to talk about themselves.

    Most people’s favorite topics are‒themselves! Even if you don’t have an interesting opener, you can always ask people to talk about themselves, and they’ll be more than happy to oblige you. Ask what they do for a living, where they’re from, or what they studied in school. If you get someone talking about their interests, you’ll see their true personalities come through. They’ll be excited to share their hobbies, and you might find that you have something in common!

    5. But still share information about yourself.

    Everyone likes to talk about themselves, but they also like to learn about others. If you ask too many questions of a new acquaintance, they might feel like you’re prying or giving them the third degree. Plus, if you share some of your interests, that might trigger something they never thought to share. Who knew you both enjoyed collecting stamps from South Africa?

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    6. Find and discuss common interests.

    Learning about your new friend and sharing information about yourself should naturally lead to finding some common interests. Focus on these and discuss them; you never know when you’ll learn something new! At the very least, you could find a new friend to share this hobby with. If you don’t have any common interests, don’t worry! Not every stranger you meet is meant to become your new best friend. You still got this far in the conversation, so pat yourself on the back!

    7. Be friendly, not pushy or aggressive.

    Regardless of why you’re trying to meet new people, don’t feel pressure to acquire a pocketful of new friends. If you’re scared of failure or feel like you must meet someone new, you’ll come across as aggressive. If someone doesn’t want to have a conversation with you, let them walk off without being pushy and trying to keep them to yourself. Be laid back and go with the flow‒it will make you seem friendly, which means you’ll have better conversations, and be more likely to have other people approach you.

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    8. Don’t be embarrassed if you’re visibly nervous.

    If your voice cracks or your handshake is sweaty, laugh it off. If you’re an amateur comedian and can make it into a joke, point it out and get people laughing with you. If it’s something that makes you feel less confident, just ignore it. Everyone gets nervous sometimes, so push past and continue on with the conversation. Don’t let it trip you up or embarrass you enough that you have to walk away.

    9. Let your personality shine through.

    Above all, be yourself. If you’re trying too hard to appeal to everyone, you’ll come across as flakey and no one will want to talk to you. It’s too much work to be everything to everyone, so be yourself and, above all, enjoy yourself. People will take notice and be drawn to you.

    10. Know when to end the conversation.

    Whether the conversation is a flop or a success, know when to wrap it up. If you know early on that you don’t want to keep talking to someone, find a smooth, painless way to move on and meet someone else. If you have a good conversation and hit it off, tell your new friend that you have to leave, but you’d love to meet up again sometime. Get a phone number or email address and leave the event high on your own success!

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    Last Updated on May 21, 2019

    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

    If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

    Example 1

    You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

    You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

    In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

    Example 2

    You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

    People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

    You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

    Example 3

    You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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    The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

    Example 4

    You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

    Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

    If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

    Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

    • Understand your own communication style
    • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
    • Communicate with precision and care
    • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

    1. Understand Your Communication Style

    To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

    In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

    Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

    2. Learn Others Communication Styles

    Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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    If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

    “How do you prefer to receive information?”

    This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

    To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

    3. Exercise Precision and Care

    A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

    On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

    Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

    I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

    I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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    In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

    The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

    Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

    4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

    Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

    In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

    “Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

    Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

    Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

    It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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    It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

    It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

    Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

    Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

    The Bottom Line

    When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

    I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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    Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

    Reference

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