how to talk to strangers

19 Aug How to Talk to Strangers (and Not Die!)

Kids these days… They just can’t converse the way that people did 50 years ago, when people happily greeted each other in grocery stores, remembered faces and names, and even politely conversed with complete strangers. Nowadays, we shy away from talking to strangers, we avoid talking to people we run into at the market, and whatever conversations we do actually have seem to exist through text messages. In this crazy world, where jobs are hard to come by and finding the right one for you depends on personal connections and reaching out to people, a good talent to have is reaching out to strangers.

Now by this, I mean how to contact, introduce yourself, and carry on a lengthy conversation with someone you do not know, NOT talking to complete strangers you find in the alleyway (perhaps we’ll tackle that scenario at at later date). Recently I wrote an article on how to properly write emails, and this article has a lot to do with those same rules and general ideas. Your words give a peek into your personality, and if this is a business-related conversation, your conversing skills will help the person decide if they want to continue relations with you.

The first step to contacting strangers is to do a little research. If you are going in for an interview, know the company you are interviewing for. Get familiar with their work ethic, or motto if they have one. Learn how long they’ve been in business and the type of people that work there. If you have the name of your interviewer, give them a quick Google search and learn what kind of person they are. This will give you a small insight as to what to expect in your dealings with the company. If you are emailing someone, don’t forget to introduce yourself and explain why you are reaching out to them in the first place.

The second step to contacting a new person has to deal with verbal communication. If you are talking on the phone, Skyping, or meeting in person, your voice has all the power to make or break your conversation. When it comes to talking on the phone, or video chatting, the tone of your voice gives everything away. I will state this plainly: people can tell by the tone of your voice if you are bored, uninterested, or simply don’t know what’s going on.  If you are bored or uninterested, this isn’t the place for you; get out of the conversation. If you don’t know what’s going on, then take it as a lesson and follow my first step in contacting a stranger: get to know your converser. Do a little research and figure out what the heck they’re talking about. Remember, when contacting a stranger, your voice is the gateway into your mind. Even if your tone is normally slightly monotonous, try and spice it up a little and sound more energetic. Once the person gets to know you better, they will learn that even if you sound monotonous, you are genuinely interested.

The last and most important step when contacting or conversing with a new person is ask questions! Have you ever noticed how at the end of every single interview you’ve had, they ask you if you have any questions? It’s not a coincidence! They genuinely know what questions you have for them. Asking questions helps you to learn and better understand. If you are talking to an interviewer, asking questions will help you learn about the company and decide if it’s the right fit for you. If you are talking to someone at the coffee shop, asking questions will help you to learn about their life. If you are talking to someone you met from an online dating site, asking questions will help you learn if they are a complete lunatic, or a cutie with a sweet puppy. Asking questions is the key to reaching out to strangers.


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