How to Talk to Someone You've Never Met
Talking to strangers may seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! Talking to someone you never met before can be exciting and informative when you use the right techniques. Get the conversation off to a great start by introducing yourself. Then, ask questions and listen to learn more about the other person. Finally, follow some key strategies to keep the conversation going and then end it on a positive note.
Read their body language.Before you walk up and start chatting with a complete stranger, get the full picture. Make sure now’s the right time to approach them by checking out their nonverbal cues. Look at how they’re standing or sitting and examine their facial expression. Do they seem open to conversation?
- For instance, if someone is hunched over with their arms crossed and a frown on their face, you might want to keep walking. However, if they are in a relaxed position and appear generally upbeat, they may be interested in talking to you.
- Even once the conversation gets going, you should continue to check out the other person’s body language to know if you should change topics or end the interaction.
Use a friendly approach.If you decide to greet the person, use open and positive body language. Turn to face them. Form a slight smile, raise your chin, and pull your shoulders back. You want to appear calm, confident, and friendly.
Offer your hand.To seal the deal, present your right hand so the other person can shake it. Offer your hand with the palm flat and clasp your fingers around theirs upon contact. Squeeze firmly, matching the amount of pressure used by the other person.
- Why is shaking their hand important? The moment you make contact with them your brains send out signals that enhance your bond.
Remember their name and use it often.When the other person tells you their name, commit it to memory and use it in the conversation. Doing this endears you to the other person and makes it seem like you are old friends.
- For instance, you might say, “So, Pam, what brings you here tonight?” right after the person tells you their name. Later, you might use their name again by saying, “What’s your favorite type of music, Pam?”
- To easily remember their name, connect their name to a characteristic you’ve learned about them. For example, you might think to yourself “Pam is wearing a purple sweater” or “Joe likes jazz.”
Having a Conversation
Make eye contact.Friendly interactions don’t occur with two people looking opposite ways. You’ll need to meet the other person’s eyes in order to maintain the conversation. Find a good balance, though: avoid staring for too long, but also don’t completely avoid the other person’s gaze.
- In general, make more eye contact when you are talking than when you are listening.
Ask open-ended questions.Certain questions shut down conversations while others keep them going. If you want to talk to someone you’ve never met, strike up a conversation by asking an open-ended question. These types of questions enable you to explore many different avenues beyond a typical “yes” or “no” answer.
- Open-ended questions usually start with what, how, or why, such as “How do know Tabitha?”
Listen.If you’re going to ask someone a question, you need to show that you’re willing to listen to the answer. Practice active listening skills by turning to face the person and hearing what they have to say. Try to fully understand their message before responding.
Paraphrase.Show the person that you were listening by paraphrasing what they said. This helps you make sure you received the intended message and allows the other person the opportunity to clarify if you didn’t.
- You can paraphrase by saying something like “So, it sounds like…” or “If I’m hearing you right…”
Maintaining the Interaction
Stay positive.People are more likely to stay and interact with you when you keep the conversation positive. Don't expect that people will dislike you or try to get away. Keep the conversation positive, and keep yourself friendly and approachable.
- Even if you feel nervous or don't have the best self-esteem, try to come off as confident. Trying to back out of a conversation or coming off as fearful will make others want to leave the conversation early. If you're nervous, fake it until you make it.
Keep them talking about themselves.For most people, once they see that you’re willing to listen, they can talk for hours. In general, people like to talk about themselves, their ideas, and their interests. Use this knowledge to your advantage and keep the focus on the other person.
- Show an interest in what they are saying by nodding or responding with comments like “Really?”
Be witty.People are often charmed by people who make them laugh. However, they may not want to sit there and listen to joke after joke. Instead of using outright humor, offer a sample of wit that suits the context.
- For example, if the two of you are waiting, you might casually say, “Gee, if I’d known the wait would be so long, I would have packed a picnic lunch. If you hear my stomach growl, forgive me.”
Find common ground.People are attracted to those who seem to “get” them so pay close attention to any mutual interests or opinions you have with the other person. Use this common ground to emphasize how you are alike and build a stronger connection with the other person.
- For example, you might say, “I feel the same way!” or “How ironic? I grew up in a small town, too.”
Avoid over-sharing.Unless you want to inadvertently push others away, stick to light or neutral topics during your initial conversation. Although it’s perfectly acceptable to make a major disclosure with a close friend, it’s frowned upon to do the same with a virtual stranger. Over-sharing tends to make others uncomfortable.
- It would be consider inappropriate, for instance, to tell a person you just met that you are dealing with a troubling medical condition.
- Don't be afraid to show some vulnerability about subjects that naturally come up. This can help build trust. Sharing too much information all at once, though, can be off-putting.
End on a good note.The key to an overall pleasant interaction with a stranger is knowing when to cut the conversation short. Check out their body language. Are they turning away from you or seemingly distracted by their phone or a book? If so, this might be a signal to part ways. Be sure to end the conversation in a positive light.
- For instance, even if things started to become awkward or quiet, it might be nice to make your exit by reminding the person of your connection. Say something like, “It was nice meeting you, Joy. I hope you think of me the next time you eat rocky road ice cream.”
QuestionWhat if the person says to leave them alone?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerExcuse yourself, apologize for disturbing them, and move on to the next person you feel you could have a decent conversation with, if you'd like. There is no guarantee that a given stranger will want to talk to you.Thanks!
QuestionThere's a guy that I just met and he talked to me a lot, but I didn't know how to respond to him. This really bothers me, because we have a lot in common and he was talking about something I love. What do I do?BlazergirlCommunity AnswerWhen he starts talking about something you like, you can quickly add in "I love that!" Be friendly and talk to him as if he was just like any of your other friends, that might be easier. Try giving opinions too, since you guys have a lot in common. It's normal to feel shy at first, just keep talking to him, it will get better.Thanks!
QuestionI always feel awkward when I talk to peers because I am nervous that I may stutter or say something that is strange. What should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerDon't be nervous, and even though this sounds cheesy, just be yourself. And if you say something embarrassing, own it!Thanks!
QuestionHow do I approach a person I don't know?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerFirst, you must feel confident in yourself. But also, you might have to wait for the right moment. When that moment comes, just take a few deep breaths, approach this person calmly, and greet him/her with a "Hello, my name is *your name*. Then let the conversation begin.Thanks!
QuestionShould I tell only stories about myself, or can I tell stories about other people too?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt is better to tell stories about yourself. This way, the person you are talking to gets to know you better. You don't have to talk about personal or sensitive matters, however.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I talk to someone who makes eye contact with me?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerMake eye contact back and smile at the person. If you get a smile back, that's a sign you should approach and ask how they're doing today. Chat about what you're doing there and ask this person about his business there. If it's going well, ask them to get coffee or a drink with you.Thanks!
QuestionI said hi to someone on a dating website, and he asked, "Do I know you?" What do I say to him without being a weirdo?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerJust be truthful and say "no", but proceed to introduce yourself, providing him an opportunity to deliver an introduction as well.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I start a conversation with a stranger?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerAsk some casual questions, such as: "how are you doing today?" Talk about recent things that you have done, such as watching a movie, and see if you have anything in common between you.Thanks!
QuestionI want to apologize to someone who is not really a stranger, but someone I barely know. How do I apologize without being awkward?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerJust apologize, try to keep your composure, and make sure you seem like you're not afraid of doing it. That'll work.Thanks!
QuestionWhat can I talk about with stranger I met over the phone? It seems like I'm interesting to her, she gave me her number, but I'm afraid to talk to her because I feel like I have nothing to say at all.wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerWell, as you say this person is a stranger so I think there is so much you can talk about. Maybe you don't know many things to tell her about yourself, but that doesn't matter that much to start a conversation. You can show your interest in her by asking things about her. There might be things you want to know so just ask her these things. You can ask about her hobbies, what her favorite food is, etc., and if she's interested in you to she will ask questions back and then you have a conversation going.Thanks!
Sources and Citations
In other languages:
Español: , Deutsch: , Português: , Italiano: , Nederlands: , Français: , 中文: , Русский: , Bahasa Indonesia: , Čeština: , हिन्दी: , العربية: , ไทย:
Video: How to Ask Out a Girl You've Never Talked To
The most common healthy eating mistakes
How to Make a Clay Volcano
This Is What Its Like To Have Alopecia
How to Become an Advocate for Domestic Violence Victims
How to Buy and Walk in Flip Flops
18 Badass Beauty Bosses You Should be Following onInstagram
Men’s Coyote Danner Tanicus Boots Review – Tactical Footwear
So This is the Real Reason A Friends Reunion Will Never Happen
What Are the Causes of a Midlife Crisis
5 Things to Know About New York Fashion Week Fall 2019
5 Ways Your Workouts Need To Change After Age 50
7 Natural Allergy Remedies That Work—And 1 You Should Definitely Skip
Cute Red Hairstyle with Bangs – Agnes Monica Hairstyles
Mainstays Tyler Futon with Storage Sofa Sleeper Bed, Multiple Colors