For a verbal species, we certainly seem reluctant to talk to people sometimes. It could be a holdover from your parents telling you not to talk to strangers but at some point, you’re going
to be thrust into a situation where being able to engage in meaningless conversation will come in handy.
So how does one walk up to a stranger and start talking? You do just that.
- Find your target. Take a deep breath, smile and begin with a simple introduction. No need to come up with something witty and memorable, they won’t remember it either.
- Try to find something in common. This is easy if you’re at a party (ask how they know the hosts) or at a specific activity/class (ask if this is their first time attempting the activity).
- If you’re talking to them cold, mention a current headline. It helps if you keep well-read on the news of the day. Don’t get too personal.
- Ask questions but don’t interrogate. If they blow you off, don’t be upset, just say it was nice to meet them and move on.
- Practice extricating yourself from the conversation as well (it was lovely to meet you but I really need to wish Jenna a happy birthday).
Of course this will become more natural with practice so take every opportunity to do so – waiting rooms, cashier lines, public transit. You’ll be surprised how quickly the fear of initiating a conversation fades.