We have all been in an awkward social situation where we have had to talk to a stranger and didn’t know what to say.
If you are a natural introvert, then striking up a conversation with a stranger in a social setting like a bar is going to be challenging at best, and social suicide at worst.
The good news is that even if you prefer your own company to others, you can turn this around, and become more confident in your own skin in public.
Let’s take a look at what we think are the necessary steps to becoming a master at talking to strangers, so the next time you are out in public, you don’t have to wish you were at home.
Treat Them as You Would a Friend
When you are chatting with friends, you probably feel nice and relaxed. You smile when you first see them, you ask them how everything is going, and you want to talk to them about what they have been up to. Everything about the interaction flows smoothly.
So, when you are meeting someone new for the first time, treat them the same way. Try to think of something that you would talk about with a friend and use this to spark a conversation.
As an example, if you’re talking to someone that you don’t know very well at work, try to ask them how their work is going.
Are they overloaded with work right now, or are they enjoying what they’re working on? Try to be casual and friendly, without coming on too strong.
Have a Friendly, Relaxed Smile
Smiling at a stranger, even if it is subtle, can mean the difference between someone assuming that you are open to having a conversation, and someone assuming that you are wanting to move on.
The majority of people fear rejection, which means that they are going to avoid someone who doesn’t look like they are happy to talk.
This is also a good thing to remember when you are trying to talk with a stranger; you are definitely not the only one who is scared of making a mistake or scaring someone away.
The more you think about them being in the same boat as you, the easier it will be to relate to them, and the less anxiety you will feel about talking to strangers.
Know That You Can Make Trivial Remarks
Most people don’t expect someone to be charismatic and brilliant when they first meet them. This is where it is worth being a good listener.
Try to be friendly and open and make casual observations about your surroundings or the event you are at.
Speak what’s on your mind, even if it isn’t deep. Even saying something as trivial as ‘I love the weather today’ signals that you are warm, and you are open to striking up an interesting conversation.
Deeper, meaningful insights can come later when you know each other a lot better, and you are diving into a topic.
People that are able to successfully hold a conversation with a stranger are able to turn the trivial into the meaningful.
Imply That You Enjoy Talking to Someone
Sometimes, we can be focusing so much on trying to be cool that we forget to be empathetic compassionate, which is definitely more likable.
If you can communicate to someone that you enjoy talking to them, then they are going to be much more likely to want to speak with you again.
Ironically, if you’re trying too hard to be cool, and you are too conscious of what you’re doing, this can translate as aloof and distant, and might put them off completely.
Maintain Eye Contact
When you maintain eye contact with someone, you are communicating that you are interested in what they are saying.
However, there is a delicate balance between too much eye contact, and too little. A good rule to live by is to make eye contact when the person that you are communicating with is speaking.
When you are speaking, you can look at them as well, but try to have breaks when the two of you are thinking between conversation.
It’s easier than you think to talk to strangers, you have just got to master the art of conversation.
Have confidence without coming across as conceited and try to have a few topics of interest up your sleeve, so that you can carry the conversation smoothly.