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30 Tips You Can Use To Approach Anyone

30 Tips You Can Use To Approach Anyone

In order to meet new people we have to actually approach and speak to them, which can be really nerve-wracking. Thankfully, Ivan Chan of Self Stairway has 30 tips to share that can make it far easier to approach anyone:

It’s terrifying approaching someone for the first time.

Naturally, you want to make a good first impression with this person, but you have no idea how they will react to you. Will they like you? Will they reject you? Will they think you’re an idiot? The fear of looking like an idiot by saying or doing something stupid is uncomfortably real. Maybe you have had it happen in the past. The thought of having it happen again is making you nervous about approaching someone.

I used to be terrified of approaching people too. I would sheepishly stutter my way though an introduction. I would make futile attempts at small talk, only to flounder awkwardly. After enduring much frustration, I eventually stopped trying. I figured you couldn’t get hurt if you just watch from the sidelines and avoid putting any skin in the socializing game. That’s not a fun way to live.

After all, a wealthy life is not just defined by how much money you have. It is also defined by how rich your relationships are with your friends and loved ones. Every relationship starts with you approaching someone whom you’ve never met before or the other way around. But most people don’t have the courage.

I decided to work on my social skills. They don’t teach you how to approach people in school, so I learned from others whenever I could and experimented. I tried different ways to make a memorable introduction, to keep people engaged, and to leave people wanting to come back and talk again.

It took me years, but I eventually found a system that works–a system I’ll share with you today. So grab a cup of coffee and make yourself comfortable.

You’re about to learn how to approach a stranger with confidence, charisma, and even a little flair. These techniques will work regardless of whether you’re at a professional event or a hot singles’ party. Are you ready?

1. Tackle approach anxiety

Are you deathly afraid of approaching people? If so, then you may a bad case of approach anxiety. As with most fears, the way you conquer approach anxiety is to desensitize it.

2. Get in the right mindset

You’ve decided to approach. Are you feeling a little nervous right before? Take 10 deep breaths to calm your nerves and tell someone to shut up.

No, not a stranger. Tell yourself to shut up. Don’t listen to your lizard brain or your fears.

You have to get in the right mindset.

That is, you shouldn’t treat other people like a total stranger. If you want to have a fun conversation then act like you’ve known the other person your whole life. It will lead the interaction with the right vibe.

Also, think of your conversation as a chance to make the other person feel good about themselves.

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3. Channel your inner storyteller

Some more pre-game.

You need stories ready to make the conversation interesting. They don’t have to be dramatic or funny. But they should serve as fun conversational starters. That way, you’ll have something to fall back on when conversations turn into a lull.

4. Shake hands

You’re going in now. First off, shake their hand. Firmly, not with a dead fish grip.

Wait!

Make sure you don’t have sweaty palms. I used to have the worst case of sweaty palms in high school social dance classes. You can imagine how those felt for the other person.

5. Remove the voices from your head

You’re in. You initiated, but you’re starting to become nervous.

How many times have you started a conversation, feel weird, and try to exit as fast as possible? If your answer is zero then I bow down to your smoother-than-James-Bond socializing prowess.

The rest of us make excuses when we’re afraid. Tell your excuses where to go. Kick them out of here. You can pull through anything.

6. Think like an economist

Opportunities in life come and go. In my personal life, the biggest regrets I have are not from things I have done. Rather, my biggest regrets are from things I could have but did not do.

Will you regret it if you don’t muster up the courage to approach that certain someone?

7. Remove your serial killer look

Obviously, you’ll scare someone if you don’t. People are naturally wary about meeting a stranger at first. The way you ease their wariness is to have a relaxed smile that seems natural, not with a serial killer grin.

8. Remember that you’re not auditioning for a play

You don’t have to start a conversation in a witty way in order for it to be memorable. Don’t memorize lines. Just start with “Hi!” and you’re good to go. Of course, as you become more comfortable with strangers, you can add more flair to your bantering.

Remember: the more you think, the more difficult it becomes.

9. Never forget another name

Always, always, ALWAYS pay attention when the other person introduces their name. Obviously, most people take their name very personally. So remembering someone’s name correctly will no doubt leave them with a good impression of you.

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Dale Carnegie famously said that a person’s name, to that person, is the sweetest and most important sound in any language. Think of how you feel when someone remembers your name towards the end of a conversation. Feels pretty good, doesn’t it?

10. Give out genuine compliments

You can be personal by offering a sincere compliment. People like to feel liked.

Remember, sincerity is key. Fake compliments are pretty obvious and even insulting.

Quick tip, comment on something they put effort into. Complimenting them on something out of their control isn’t as warming as something you noticed they did.

11. Take compliments with class

So, you can dish out compliments, but can you take them? A conversation is a two-way exchange. Show your classy side when you’re on the receiving end of a compliment.

Don’t downplay them. Don’t deny them. Just say “thanks.”

12. Empathize and relate to build a connection

Having gone through university myself, I understand how stressful exams times can be. I often use this as a way to empathize with students who are currently going through exams.

Showing someone you know how they feel makes them more comfortable to talk with you.

13. Keep your ears open

I know this advice sounds obvious. But then how come so many people absolutely SUCK at listening? It’s sad but true. So if you train yourself to be a skilled listener, you’ll no doubt instantly standout among the crowd. Listen more often than you talk.

14. Make them feel good with great questions

So what happens if you’re at a conversational standstill and none of the techniques I’ve discussed so far is working? Ask awesome questions! People love talking about themselves, after all.

15. Take the lead

What does being a good ballroom dancer and being a good conversationalist have in common? You have to know when to lead and when to follow in both situations. So, lead!

16. Keep your mouth in check

It’s tempting to think that the world revolves around us. Not surprisingly, a lot of people talk about themselves non-stop because it feels good to them. However, being a good conversationalist means talking less and listening more. So don’t be a conversational narcissist.

Let others have a turn.

17. Avoid being a pretentious “one-upper”

I once worked with someone who always had to one-up whatever you say.

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He always wanted to have a bigger and better story to tell than everyone else. Talking to him gets annoying really quickly. Don’t be that guy.

18. Accept that you’re not a genius

If you don’t, then sooner or later people will realize you’re just a fool desperately trying to look smart. If you don’t know something, just admit it. Most people will be glad to explain. That way, you’ll actually learn something (and end up being smarter for real).

19. Remove your habit of judging

Take my blogging mentor, Jon Morrow, for example. Jon has spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). He can barely move his body from his neck down.

Based on appearance alone, some people might be surprised to learn that Jon is the Associate Editor of Copyblogger.com, a highly successful entrepreneur, and an all-around badass.

20. Know what topics get people to want to murder you

Nothing kills a conversation more quickly than an ill-advised tangent into an icky topic. You have been warned.

21. Get rid of your habitual filler words and phrases

By filler, I mean the “umm’s” and “ah’s” people utter when they’re trying to think of something to say. Then there’s the dreaded “like” filler, as in, this is, like, the most annoying filler, like, ever!

22. Leave interrogation to the police and interview questions for hiring managers

Remember how I said you should ask really good questions to direct a conversation? It’s a good strategy, but don’t overdo it. If you barrage someone with too many questions, they will feel like you’re interrogating them.

Mix up your questions with some non-questions. Better yet, expand on the conversation based on what you’ve heard from the speaker to show you’ve have been paying attention all this time.

23. Remind yourself that pauses are normal

I used to worry about what to say whenever there is a pause in a conversation. I’ve since learned pauses are OK.

Admittedly, it feels a lot less awkward being in silence with a close friend than an acquaintance you have just met, but don’t worry, there are ways you to end the silence quickly and restart the conversation.

24. Stop interrupting, it’s rude

Have you ever had someone blurt things out before you’re done talking? It’s annoying, right? So don’t do it yourself. Avoid interrupting others when they talk or you may kill the conversation.

25. Be conscious of your body language

Seriously, you should do as your Mother have told you a long time ago. Stand up straight. Don’t hunch forward. Bad posture is just so uncool and unsexy.

Great posture automatically makes you look more attractive, interesting, and self-confident.

26. What are you doing with your hands?

Yes, we’re back talking about hands again. This time we’ll talk about where to put your hands while you’re talking. Your body language says a lot of things about you.

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You may think your words are wowing your listener, but if your body language is conveying a different message altogether from your words, then you’ll be fighting an uphill battle for the entirety of that conversation.

27. Stop looking away, give them your focus

Smartphones have somehow managed to connect people like never before while simultaneously destroying face-to-face communication.

How often do you go into a public place (e.g. a train or a park) and find virtually everyone in sight to be thumbing away on their phones? In the age of rapid digital communication, it’s the simple look-them-in-the-eye conversation that is bound to be memorable.

28. Slow down and don’t lose them with your words

As Michael Caine once said, “The basic rule of human nature is that powerful people speak slowly and subservient people quickly–because if they don’t speak fast nobody will listen to them.” Are you powerful or subservient?

29. Test out different vocal inflections

This is, once again, another obvious-sounding advice, but how obvious is it really? I know many people who speak as if they are unsure of everything they say.

One way you can tell is they tend to raise their voice at the end of a phrase, the way you would with a question. Only instead, they do this with EVERY SINGLE STATEMENT they say. It’s as if they are asking you for permission to speak.

30. End your conversation on a high note!

All great things must end. And sadly, that includes your lively chat with the lovely person in front of you. But don’t go out with a whimper! Like all great things, you should go out with a bang (and leave them wanting more).

The Floor Is Yours

You’ve got all the know-how.

You’ve learned all the tricks.

You know what you need to do next?

It’s one thing to be an expert in the theory of knowing how to approach people. It’s a different thing completely to be an expert IN approaching people.

The only way you’ll get good at approaching people is if you, well, practice approaching people! That’s how I did it. That’s how everyone does it. That’s how you’re going to do it.

Just pick one or two things above and start practicing. I know it’s going to be hard at first. But in time, you’re going to get better. I’m sure of it.

So what are you waiting for?

Ivan Chan is the creator of Wealthy Without Worry. In his latest quest, Ivan teaches professionals how to make smart money decisions that fit their lifestyles. Check out what he does here.

30 Tricks You Can Steal From Social Butterflies for Approaching Anyone | Self Stairway

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Step right up, don’t be shy!

Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

Culturally Conditioned

We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

1. Broadens Your Network

After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

2. Improves Your Communication Skills

I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

3. Continually Learning

So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

4. Increases Self Confidence

Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

How to Talk to Strangers

Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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1. Say Hello

Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

2. Ask About Them

Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

3. Just Do It

One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

4. Don’t Take It Personal

One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

6. Detach

A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

7. Share Your Stories

Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

8. Give a Compliment

Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

9. Relax Your Body Language

If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

10. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

The Bottom Line

As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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