It’s easier said than done to talk to strangers properly. A lot of people find this activity quite difficult to perform, especially those who are not very socially adept. If you’re one of those people, then don’t worry. Just like many of the other aspects of your social life, the ability to talk to strangers properly is something you can definitely practice, and eventually master.
If you’re someone who doesn’t consider themselves to be socially adept, then you know how awkward it is to properly talk to strangers. This is one of the things you’ll need to get over if you want to improve your social skills and boost your social life.
Why You Feel Awkward About Talking To Strangers
The feeling of awkwardness you have when you’re surrounded by strangers is not uncommon. In fact, this seems to be a trait innate to human beings. The root of your awkwardness is the fear of social failure. In other words, you feel anxious around other people because you’re afraid you’re going to do or say something wrong around them.
This is just one reason, of course. Awkwardness around strangers also comes from the fact that it is just an activity you’re not used to. Whatever the reason is for you, the most important thing to think about now is how you can get over this feeling so you can finally talk to strangers properly.
How to Properly Talk to Strangers
Take a look at the 21 tips below to know how to properly talk to strangers. Mastering this ability will allow you to make friendships naturally and feel more comfortable around social settings.
Don’t be afraid to make a mistake
Everybody makes mistakes. That is a matter of fact. If you want to learn how to properly talk to strangers, the first thing you need to keep in mind is to not be afraid of making mistakes. Chances are, the strangers you’ll be speaking to will make them as well.
It is important that you set proper expectations for yourself and everything else around you as you’re trying to better yourself. Attempting to be perfect by attempting to decrease your mistakes to a minimum is unrealistic and it will only shatter your confidence.
Instead, allow mistakes to happen and learn from them whenever they arrive. Be mindful always, but don’t be afraid of mistakes.
Think of everyone as your friend
You’ll be able to socialize better with anyone if you treat everybody like they’re your friend. Just put it in your head that every stranger you meet is a friend. Trick your subconscious by putting this particular thought in your head each time you’re faced with a stranger. Slowly but surely, you’ll treat everyone as if they’re your friend.
If this doesn’t work for you, you can also just think of every stranger you meet as a potential friend. They’re not your friends yet but the goal is to make them one. You’ll start becoming friendly with everybody you meet then, allowing you to talk to strangers properly.
Be in a place you’re comfortable in
If you’re uncomfortable with the place you’re in, then your actions are going to show it. You’ll never be able to talk to a stranger properly if you’re uncomfortable, after all.
With that in mind, make sure you’re comfortable with the place you’re in if you want to talk to strangers properly. Go somewhere you’re already familiar with, or at least to a place that has an atmosphere that’s comfortable to you. Don’t go to a superclub if that’s a scene you’re uncomfortable with if your goal is to talk to strangers.
Have at least one friend in the room
It will help you immensely if you’re accompanied by one person you know and trust. Whenever you’re out to attempt to talk to strangers, make sure it’s with the company of a friend. They don’t need to know your plans, but it might help you if that’s something you’re comfortable disclosing.
Whenever you’re hanging out with your friends in a public area, that’s also a very good opportunity for you to talk to strangers, since your friends are just in that room with you. Better yet, ask them to introduce you to someone they know. That way, you’ll get the chance to talk to a stranger and that person is someone your friend knows.
The curiosity of the human mind is a beautiful thing. That said, whenever you’re talking to a stranger, allow your curious mind to flourish. If there’s something you want to ask the other person, something about themselves, ask it right away. A person will subtly start feeling comfortable with you if they’re able to share things about themselves with you.
It also helps if you ask open-ended questions instead of simple ones that they can answer with a “yes” or a “no.” For example, instead of asking something like, “Do you work in Tech?”, ask them something like, “How did you come to work in Tech?”
Allowing your curiosity to take over when engaging with a stranger in conversation will also allow the interaction to flow naturally. If you’re curious, you’ll never have to think about topics to talk about since you’ll be constantly asking about them, and whichever question is relevant to your conversation.
Tell them about yourself
Aside from asking about the other person, it will also serve you well to tell them about yourself too. Make your conversations with the other person run both ways. You’re learning things about them, and they’re learning things about you.
During these instances, though, it is recommended that you be the carrier of the conversation. With that in mind, make sure you’re asking more about them than you’re telling things about yourself. It’s a two-way exchange, sure, but allow them to share more for now. Share if they’re specifically asking, and always reciprocate with a question after giving them your answer.
Find a common ground even when you talk to strangers
You can only talk with a stranger for so long until you run out of things to actually talk about. This can happen a lot faster if the both of you have nothing in common. The remedy for this is simple: Find something you two have in common.
This can be easier than you think, and that common ground can be anything at all. Whether it be your love for the beach, a music genre, a favorite author, whatever it is you two may have in common, that is something you two can talk about for hours on end. Once you find that common ground, show a little excitement and they’ll be excited with the prospect of sharing that common interest with you as well.
Practice how to smile naturally
Smiling will always go a long way in a social setting. It is one of the most common trademarks of a socially adept person who’s approachable and friendly. If you’re someone who already smiles comfortably around people, then good! This part is essentially a done deal for you. If you’re someone who’s not used to doing this, however, then know that it will serve you well to get used to this.
One trick a lot of people do is to initially force their smile. According to studies, whenever a person forces a smile, it tricks their brain into firing molecules known as neuropeptides, which help combat stress and anxiety and boosts your mind. You’ll essentially trick yourself into being happier by initially forcing yourself to smile.
This is just one way, of course. Whenever you’re alone at home, spend a few minutes in front of a mirror to practice how to make your smile look natural. It’s going to seem odd, but that’s part of the process you need to undergo if you want to talk to strangers properly.
A stranger will feel more comfortable and positive around you if you can smile naturally while interacting with them. Your practice will be worth it in the long run, not only in your social life but also in consideration of your physical and mental health.
Have an “open” body language
When talking to a stranger, make sure you exhibit an “open” body language to appear confident and comfortable. To do this, you will need to do the following things.
- Stop staring at the ground – Avoid staring at the ground when you’re in a social setting if you want to talk to strangers. Not only will you miss an opportunity to spot someone you can interact with, but it will make you appear uncomfortable and anxious.
- Put your arms on your side or in your pocket – Another thing to avoid is crossing your arms. A person tends to cross their arms whenever they feel socially threatened and anxious. Appear more confident by keeping your arms to your side or by placing your hands inside your pocket. You’ll appear more attractive by doing so too.
- Maintain eye contact – When talking to someone, make sure you look them in the eye to let them know and feel you’re really engaged with them. It’s a way of letting someone else feel you’re getting into the things they’re saying or doing. If a person feels you’re giving them your undivided attention, they’ll feel more comfortable getting close to you.
- Keep your body upright – Avoid slouching. Not only will that make you look weak but it will also lower your self-esteem. Keep your body up to appear strong and confident. Your mind and action will promptly follow suit.
Having open body language will bring subtle improvements to your mood and self-esteem, but they’re undoubtedly effective. They’ll also make other people see you in a more positive light. Just remember to appear confident without looking arrogant. That’s the balance you need to maintain.
Keep talking about positive things
A person will feel very comfortable speaking with you if the things you’re able to share are warm and positive. That said, have stories ready to be told that are uplifting or funny. A joke of some kind will also work, as long as they’re tasteful and appropriate.
Share things with positivity in mind. Make people feel uplifted and happy when they’re talking to you. Your overall vibe and atmosphere can also have a hand in this. The person you’re talking to will perceive darkness if you seem dark and unhappy too. Portray your confidence and share positive things and strangers will feel very comfortable interacting with you.
Don’t rush when speaking
Make sure that you’re not rushing yourself whenever you’re talking to another person. Make your voice and your words clear and concise. There’s no need to speed things up. You’ll also be able to convey the things you’re trying to convey if you speak in a more steady and cohesive manner.
If you’re able to keep up a conversation without the other person asking, “Can you repeat that?” or something along those lines, then you’ll have nailed tip perfectly.
Don’t be too formal
When you’re talking to a stranger, make sure you refrain from being too formal. They might be taken aback if you keep referring to them as a “Mr.” or a “Ms.” or a title similar to those. This has its place, of course, but a lot of people will agree that it doesn’t belong in a social setting, especially if you’re trying to befriend a stranger.
That said, just relax and be casual during the conversation. Don’t be afraid to make passing comments about the things around you. Make a joke every once in a while. Portray a person who’s comfortable and the person you’re interacting with will do the same.
Of course, this isn’t to say that you should be too comfortable that you’re talking to them as if you’ve known them for years. There’s still a boundary you need to maintain. Just don’t be too formal and serious about it and you should be good to go.
Don’t wait for them to talk to you
If you want to properly talk to strangers for the sake of building friendships, then don’t wait for one to go up to you. Be the active seeker and go up to strangers and spark up a conversation with them. This way, you’re also the one who has the upper hand in the conversation.
In most social settings, the initiator of the conversation is perceived as the one who’s more confident and socially adept. Even though this is not your concern at the moment, it will help if the other person can see you as such.
Take a break every once in a while
If you’re someone who’s not usually very sociable and prefers to stay at home from time to time, then actively seeking out people to spark conversations with is as taxing as it can be. Be sure to do yourself a favor by taking a break when you can.
Dedicate an entire weekend to yourself. Stay at home, catch up on your favorite TV show, read the book you’ve been wanting to read, whatever it is you want to do in your free time, do so. See these moments as your reward for working so hard on your social life. If you’re an introvert, this will also greatly recharge and re-energize you for your next social interaction.
Talk to one person at a time
If talking to strangers is something you’re not very used to yet, then don’t overexert yourself by talking to a group of people at a time. Instead, talk to one person at a time so you can really focus on them. This will also be significantly easier for you mentally.
If you’re getting better at talking to strangers, after much time, practice, and dedication, then yes, you can begin talking to multiple people at a time. For now, though, take it easy and focus on one person.
Try to talk to everyone you meet in conversation
Consider this a practice and as a way of making talking to strangers eventually become second nature to you. When you have the chance, talk to anyone you can. You don’t need to engage them in a drawn-out and deep conversation, niceties and formalities will suffice.
Whenever you’re at a restaurant, ask the waiter how their day is going. The same goes for baristas at coffee shops, your local barber, and people you see at the grocery store. Socialize and interact with people whenever, wherever you can. Not only will you improve your social skill greatly but you’ll also make another person’s day.
You will look and feel more approachable and reliable if you appear decent. You don’t need to take drastic measures just to be the best-looking person in the room, you just need to appear as presentable as you can be.
With that in mind, make sure to take care of yourself. Observe proper hygiene, make sure your clothes are washed and ironed properly, dress well, and smell good. Not only will this make you look more approachable, but it will also greatly increase your self-esteem.
Focus on the other person
To properly talk to strangers, you’ll need to actually fix your focus on them. Make them the center of your attention and you’ll be able to pick up on everything they’re saying. Another bonus that comes with this is, if you’re a socially anxious person most of the time, you’ll reduce your social anxiety greatly by pinning your focus on another person instead of the doubts and other thoughts that are lingering in your head.
Be focused and attentive and your attempts to talk to strangers should become easier and easier. Being attentive will eventually become natural for you as well, for as long as you keep doing this during your social interactions.
Motivate yourself time and time again
If the going gets tough, remind yourself why you’re doing this in the first place. Motivate yourself whenever you feel like giving up by remembering your goals and aspirations. If you’re doing this to improve your social skills and boost your confidence, not just for the sake of your social life, but for other areas in your life as well, then keep that in mind.
This can get tough every once in a while. People who have tried this know it’s not always easy, and that you can stumble from time to time as well, but that’s okay. The important thing here is that you’re doing your best to reach your goals. If you can remind yourself that when things get tough, you’ll have the motivation to move forward and eventually succeed.
Don’t force a connection if it isn’t there
If you come across a stranger whom you just cannot connect with, then that’s okay. There’s no need to force a connection if it isn’t there. The best thing to take away from that scenario is that you tried. When you talk to strangers, it’s not always going to click, but at least you attempted in the first place. Move on and make connections elsewhere.
End conversations gracefully
Whenever you successfully talk to strangers, make sure to remember to end the interactions properly as well. Final impressions are just as vital as the first. When you do make a connection with someone, end the conversation properly.
You can do this by letting them know how much you appreciate their time and company. Let them know you enjoyed the interaction. If you feel a potential friendship right then and there, then take that chance and offer to exchange contact information. If the interaction went great and you two exchange contacts, then you’ll have the chance to do it again sometime.
Once you finally talk to strangers properly and successfully, be sure to pat yourself in the back for a job well done. Attaining this goal is not easy, sure, but once you achieve it once, it can become so much easier moving forward.
Just keep talking to strangers whenever you can, take note of the tips listed above, and keep persevering. You’ll be able to get the friends you want, no matter where you are if you’re able to properly talk to strangers. Good luck!