Knowing how to start a conversation with a stranger is easy for some people. However, for others, a room full of strangers can be very intimidating.
Learning how to start a conversation with a stranger is one of the best skills you can have. It’s a great way to make friends and build valuable relationships. And, to get started, below we give you 5 examples you can use to start a conversation with a stranger.
“Hey, I’m John, I’m new to the city, what do you suggest to do for fun?”
“Beautiful day today?! I’m Jackie.” (It doesn’t have to be complex. Keep it simple)
“I never know what to order. What do you recommend?”
“I love it when it snows. It reminds me of the holidays and slows life down. What do you enjoy about snow days?”
“Smells good in here! What are you cooking?”
The first time you build up the confidence to start a conversation with a stranger it’s very scary! Your heart is throbbing and your stomach is twisted. You finally open your mouth to say something but you stutter and your mind goes blank.
Whew! That’s an anxiety-provoking moment that will hold you back from talking to strangers. But, we all start in different places when it comes to being social. Above all, it’s not easy to confidently talk to a complete stranger. And, that why we created a four-step formula.
Click to skip to the section to learn how to start a conversation with a stranger.
Step #1. Get your mind right (click here)
Most people get nervous before meeting someone new, especially if you’re the first person to say something. We talk in-depth on how to switch your mindset.
Step #2. Prepare (click here)
It’s important to prepare in some way before you talk to a stranger. Either practice what you’re going to say or practice calming your nerves.
Step #3. Build your confidence (click here)
Confidence is a huge part of accomplishing your goals, even if it’s deciding to start a conversation with a stranger. That feeling to take action doesn’t just appear. You have to experience it and be motivated.
Step #4. Take action (click here)
This is the most important step. You can prepare, know exactly what to say, and have the confidence to do it, but if you don’t take action, then it doesn’t matter.
If you can implement these four steps into how you communicate, you’ll be on your way to talking to as many random people as you like!
Now let’s dive deep into each of the four steps to start a conversation with a stranger. This will give you exactly what you need to take your communication skills to the next level!
“Change your thoughts and you can change your world.” –Norman Vincent Peale
“If you say you can or you can’t you are right either way.” –Henry Ford
Your thoughts can shape your life. You are what you think you are.
Your attitude in life matters, even when you talk to strangers. But, how will you create the confidence to meet people if you don’t have the right mindset? If you don’t, have the right mindset you may find yourself always talking yourself out of things, especially meeting new people.
Also, a lot of people agree that changing your attitude is one of the best ways to meet your goals. For example, Oprah Winfrey is one of those people who agrees and says, “The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.”
If I was to take advice from someone, I think it would be Oprah. However, it’s agreed by many people and research that your attitude and thoughts can either help you or derail you. John Hopkins Medicine says there’s also a strong link between “positivity” and health. But, how does this relate to starting conversations with strangers?
Well, you probably have a little voice in your head that says …
“I’m too scared!”
“I’m so nervous!”
“What if they don’t like me?”
“I can’t do this!”
“I don’t want to embarrass myself!”
“What if I don’t remember what to say?”
“I’m not doing this! I’m not ready.”
We all have a little voice that says all of the above. But, the truth is, we’ll never be 100% perfect. You just have to do the best you can to make your life better.
Switch your thoughts to become more positive and action-based.
So, if you’ve ever been in a difficult situation or felt terrible about yourself what were your thoughts? Maybe you were feeling guilty, rejected, worried, or afraid of failure? Perhaps your thoughts were so negative they’ve prevented you from enjoying experiences or meeting new people. This is why you need to implement a positive mindset or at least try.
Your first step can be to start conversations with strangers by re-framing your thoughts and building resiliency.
Re-framing your thoughts:
Instead of thinking about how this person you’re about to speak with might reject you, try to re-frame your thoughts by saying:
“This can be a great conversation. I might miss an opportunity to make a friend.”
“No matter what, with each person I talk to, I’ll be improving my communication skills and building confidence.”
“I have nothing to lose.”
Just the change of your tone or change of words can redirect the situation.
Build resiliency and take action of your curiosity:
It’s important to adapt to stressful situations and setbacks in life. Even though it’s not easy to do, accepting that setbacks are a part of life can actually help you move forward.
Consider the Broaden-And-Build Theory, by Barbara Fredrickson. The theory suggests that if you think more positively about yourself, and broaden your awareness or become more curious about things, you’ll be able to take action towards new experiences, such as talking to a stranger.
*Having an open mind to starting conversations with strangers will open the door for more positive and supportive relationships.
If you have this outlook on meeting new people, it can lead to a pleasant interaction which can become a friendship.
“It’s better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one, then to have an opportunity and not be prepared.” – Les Brown
Do you think you’re prepared to talk to a complete stranger right now? If the opportunity to talk to someone suddenly appeared, would you be ready for it? Would you take action?
We think being successful comes from being prepared. Now, think about a time in your life when you had a setback or a stressful moment. It could have been a moment before a work presentation, or maybe a job interview didn’t go well. What could you have done differently?
A lot of people would say, “I could have prepared better.” Preparation is the difference between a mediocre performer and a top performer.
Which one do you want to be?
Be a better conversationalist by preparing yourself for the obvious questions.
After talking to a lot of people you’ll begin to realize most people will ask you variations of the same questions. Knowing this, it gives you an advantage to learn concise answers to a set of core questions, allowing you to walk into almost any social situation and succeed.
* Prepare answers to these 5 core questions below:
- Tell me about yourself?
- What do you do for work?
- Where are you from?
- What do you like to do for fun?
- Where did you go to school?
Anticipating these 5 questions can help you succeed in 99% of conversations. Use this as a guide to help you start conversations with strangers. Now that you know the questions people will likely ask you, let’s talk about what you need to know to answer those questions so you stand out.
* The Anatomy Of A Great Answer (when someone asks you a question)
Tell a story (The story doesn’t have to be a long story, but short and sweet)
Be concise and don’t add too many details if you don’t need to.
Don’t brag. It’s better to be humble.
Add some humor if you can. People will like you more if you can make them laugh.
Once you’ve answered, ask a follow-up question or mirror the question. Such as, “what are your thoughts?” Or “Tell about your experience.”
To keep the flow of the conversation going with a stranger you need to reciprocate with questions. Below are 4 tips you can follow when asking questions to strangers.
*The Anatomy Of Asking A Great Question. Become A Better Questioner.
Use open-ended questions such as, “Tell me about”, “What are your thoughts on”
Tailor the question about the person or relate it to the environment/experience you’re in.
Not all questions have to be boring or open-ended. Be creative and don’t be afraid to have fun. “What’s your favorite Netflix show you’re watching now?”
Find something in common and talk about it, then ask about it. Get them to say, “Me too!” Show the person you’re talking to that you’re curious.
Keep in mind that over-preparing can backfire and create anxiety about memorizing questions and answers. However, use your preparation as a guide. Approaching the conversation in a relaxed demeanor will help you remember topics you prepared as the conversation evolves.
You need confidence when learning how to talk to a stranger. The good news is that self-confidence is easier to develop than you may think.
Navy SEAL David Rutherford says,
Imagine a soldier. A soldier goes through training, he’s put in uncomfortable positions, pushed beyond his limits, he doesn’t cling to results, only growth.
He repeats his training again and again…He continually pushes himself. He doesn’t mask his fear or insecurity and he acts courageously in the face of that fear. He is self-confident, not because of his ego, but because of his experiences.
Through training and hard work, he’s come to believe in himself. He learns that “I can,” and eventually “I can,” becomes his routine. This is the true heart of self-confidence.
This is self-confidence.
Most people aren’t born with high self-confidence but what happens over time is that you develop it. Through experience. Through practice.
Here are some five easy actions you can take and implement into your life to become more confident in social situations, especially when starting a conversation with a stranger.
Action Steps you can take:
- The willingness to learn – If you’re not willing to educate yourself on something that will make your life better then why are you here? Learning new ideas, thoughts, tips, methods, etc can help you take your life to the next level. The question is, are you ready?
- Motivation to succeed – How bad do you want to be able to meet people? What is the driving factor to talk with people who you don’t know? Is it meeting friends so you can do things on the weekend? Networking for a new job? Find that and you’ll have your motivation.
- Be OK with making mistakes or even feeling embarrassed – Making mistakes is a part of life. But our cultures and societies do make us feel it’s not OK. However, in reality, it’s how we learn. It’s through experience where we become wiser.
- Take action and actually do it – What’s stopping you? Are you scared? Don’t know what to say? Take a breath and use the above ideas to help you through the barrier. You can do this. Once you do it you may feel more confident than you think. Taking action is a part where many people falter and make excuses. Don’t let this be you.
- Review and reflect on your experience – Learning how to have a conversation with a stranger is tough. Consistently review and reflect on the conversations you have. What are the things you could do better, what did you do well? Embrace all the feelings you have and enjoy the journey. The more you talk and have conversations, the better you’ll become.
Taking action isn’t easy. But, it’s how you can improve.
Learning how to have a conversation with a stranger sometimes isn’t about a great strategy or plan. Sometimes it’s just about starting. You just have to do it. Just walk up to someone and say, “Hey. How’s your day?”
Navy SEAL, Brandon Webb says to create fast action. Do it fast and directed towards a goal. “A good plan executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”
Here is the easiest action you can take if you feel like you’re struggling to start a conversation with a stranger. Set a goal.
This may be obvious but if you don’t have a goal in mind or a mission to accomplish you’ll feel lost. Setting goals is linked to self-confidence, motivation, and autonomy (Locke & Lathan, 2006).
A 2015 study by psychologist Gail Matthews showed when people wrote down their goals, they were 33 percent more successful in achieving them than those who formulated outcomes in their heads.
How do you set a goal?
Frank Smoll, Ph. D., a professor of psychology, emphasized three essential features of goal-setting, which he called the A-B-C of goals. Smoll said that effective goals are ones that are:
A – Achievable
B – Believable
C – Committed
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and keep things simple when you’re setting goals.
Make the goal easy enough to achieve but also give yourself a challenge. If you believe you can meet the goal, stay committed, and persist, you will have a much higher chance of achieving your goals.
KEY TAKEAWAYS and SUMMARY on How to Have a Conversation with a Stranger.
- Most people get nervous before meeting someone new, especially if you’re the first person to say something. This is the main reason to work on your mindset so you’re confident to meet people. The thoughts you have on a daily basis can shape your life. You are what you think you are. Learn to think positively and re-frame negative thoughts.
- It’s important to prepare in some way before you talk to a stranger. Either practice what you’re going to say or practice calming your nerves. Learn To Build Resiliency and consider implementing the broaden-and-build theory.
- Build your confidence. Confidence is a huge part of accomplishing your goals, even if it’s deciding to start a conversation with a stranger. That feeling to take action doesn’t just appear. You have to experience it and learn from it.
- Take action. This is the most important step. You can prepare, know exactly what to say, and have the confidence to do it, but if you don’t take action, then it doesn’t matter. The plan sometimes is to just go up to someone and talk. Say “Hello. How’s your day?”
You got this!! Have fun and enjoy the conversation.