Take The Fear Out Of Talking To Strangers

Being randomly friendly and striking up a talk with someone you don’t know is, as wikiHow puts it, the “social equivalent of skydiving.” And probably not as hard as you might think.

The group-editing advice site offers mostly motivational, thought-provoking ideas on how to train at getting comfortable starting a conversation with no pretext or third-party introduction. Some might make you roll your eyes with thoughts of past incidents, but others are worth considering, especially if your career could benefit from a bit of networking savvy:

Keep your conversations fairly organic. Don’t come in with “canned material”, “nuclear attraction” routines, or other social robotics … What you say isn’t nearly as important as how you say it. Socialising is about exchanging energy, not being a wordsmith. When in doubt, just say “Hi”. If you’ve never done this before, you may get brushed off several, even dozens of times until you get really comfortable being yourself in front of other people.

As someone who used to try and get different strangers to start talking for my every-day job, I found that experience, practice, and, yeah, a bit of a cynical shell against the typical brush-off were the best predictors of how things would go. But pre-supposing that someone was going to clam up or walk off never helped at all—and it’s worth remembering that, even in hard times or tough situations, some people are secretly eager to tell a story or just share a moment.

What’s your best advice for someone who wants to talk with more, and different, people every day? Photo by dreamsjung.

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