It can be scary, I know.
Starting conversations with strangers...
Most people run through these kinds of thoughts:
"What do I say?"
"Is that interesting?"
"What if they think I'm weird?"
And here's the root problem: Too much self-focus.
It paralyzes us. We overclock our brains and try to plan the perfect outcome.
But then self-focus takes over and we doubt ourselves.
My friends I have good news!
...You don't need to be interesting. You don't need to plan it all out. Cliché is okay. Actually, cliché is what you want to aim for. This keeps things simple.
Boring and predictable is actually a good thing. It lets you be in the moment. And helps you worry less.
When you start conversations, it's about bonding -- connecting with other people. It's not about information.
Starting with something cliché actually makes people more comfortable.
The most important thing, which isn't cliché at all, is that you approach the person and talk to them. That alone sets you apart from 99% of the people out there.
As I said before, the problem is that most people have too much self-focus.
So the key is to focus on the PERSON more than what you're saying. Remember, it's about bonding NOT information. Your actual words aren't important.
So the best thing to do is be curious about the other person. Here are 4 easy clichés to start talking to anyone.
1. COMPLIMENT PLUS QUESTION
The first type of thing you can say is a compliment plus a question.
My favorite thing to compliment is something that they're wearing or carrying. Like their shirt or bag for example.
The reason this works great is because it's something personal that they care about, and probably put some thought into, but not it's not too personal.
Ok now once you've done that, you follow the compliment immediately with a question.This is really important. People sometimes feel awkward when they're complimented so follow-up with a question.
- Where did you get it?
- What's that called?
It also helps if you relate it back to yourself. Like, "I've been thinking about getting a pair" or "my wife's been looking for something like that."
2. OBSERVATION OF SHARED EXPERIENCE
Number two is an observation about a shared experience.
A shared experience creates an instant bond, and is great because it gives you and a stranger something in common to talk about.
It's especially easy if you're at a party or networking event, because people are there to meet people, so if you see someone who's standing alone, it's a great opportunity to talk to someone who's also looking for someone to talk to.
And even if you're just waiting for the train, or stuck in a long line at the store, a shared experience is a powerful way to start conversations. It's so easy to turn to someone and just point out something you're both experiencing.
3. OFFER HELP
Number three, is to offer someone help.
Someone who needs help is literally hoping someone will approach them. You can be that person!
And according to the rule of reciprocity, if you help someone, they'll be much nicer to you and almost feel a need to repay you. And that's a great time to have a conversation :-) The secret is that is can't be overdone. If people sense that you want something in return, its going to backfire.
Simply help someone out of goodwill, and try to start a conversation. But if they're busy or the timing isn't right, it's ok, you've improved their day and simply made the world a nicer place.
4. ASK FOR HELP
And finally, ask someone for help.
Think about the last time you were asked for help. Most people feel kind of bad if they say no, especially if it's simple and non-threatening.
Like, "excuse me can i get your opinion on something?" It's a great way to make someone feel valued, because you're saying you value their opinion.
My favorite thing is to ask for opinions while I'm buying clothes. Like "excuse me, I could really use a female opinion. Which shirt do you think looks better on me?"
It's really fun the responses you get.
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