Meeting strangers is necessary for everyday life, whether at work, school, or a social setting. It’s one of the only ways to make new friends, and while extroverts thrive on these encounters, many people feel awkward or anxious when conversing with someone new.
When meeting new people for the first time, looking and feeling your best is important. Whether you want to fit yourself with a new look or want your pearly whites polished at the dentist, Miami’s people are more approachable when you feel fresh. Here are a few more tips for becoming a master at talking to strangers while avoiding awkwardness.
Know when to approach
We often overthink approaching and meeting strangers because we aren’t paying attention. That’s because the signs to approach someone are often mundane. For example, talk to someone you’re standing next to in line, sitting next to you at a bar or event, or doing something interesting to you. It doesn’t have to be complicated—just say hello and see where it goes.
The importance of a smile cannot be understated. When you approach a stranger with a genuine smile, the instance is instantly more relaxed. Not only do you look friendlier and more approachable with a smile, but smiling sets a positive tone for the meeting and shows that you’re sociable.
Remember their name
How often have you met someone and, within seconds of them telling you their name, you forget it? Many people do this, but when you meet a stranger and remember their name, they will feel more connected and friendly toward you. Try using their name naturally in conversation to help you remember it and to help them feel more engaged with the interaction.
Beware of body language
The gestures and stances of your body can speak loudly, and sometimes, they’re saying things you’re not trying to say. Strangers can pick up on this and immediately dislike or feel animosity toward you. Always:
- Keep your body language “open.” Keep your arms uncrossed, your legs wide, and your torso and head pointed toward the person you’re talking to.
- Maintain eye contact.
- Involve your hands and arms as part of the conversation to demonstrate energy and enthusiasm, leading to a more positive interaction.
You’ll also want to pay attention to the stranger’s body language. If they turn or are looking away from you, glancing at their watch or phone, or crossing their arms and fidgety, it may be time to move on.
Be interested, not interesting
People love to talk about themselves. Ask sincere questions that allow them to talk about their families, hobbies, passions, and lives. Pay attention to their responses and find shared experiences to reinforce your connection. Don’t try to impress strangers by being overly self-centered or over-sharing; this might come off as disingenuous or insincere.
Avoid negative topics
When you first meet someone, avoid conversations about things you hate, like politics, news headlines, traffic, your job, negative people, and other negative topics. Complaining and being pessimistic immediately after meeting someone can make people feel worse about meeting you, and they likely won’t want to talk to you again.
Act like a friend
Assume closeness with the stranger. Stay away from too intimate of questions or topics and be mindful of initiating too much physical touch, but approach them as you would a friend. Most people don’t like meeting strangers, so approaching that situation confidently and comfortably can improve everyone’s feelings about entertaining small talk from a stranger.
Senior Digital PR Specialist