How To Befriend Strangers

Why is it difficult to strike up a conversation? Looking around any ride on public transport, line at the register, or school pick-up makes it clear that we spend much of our time around others simply coexisting, choosing not to speak to others.  

Where to begin? The formula to start a good conversation is pretty simple.  What’s everybody’s favorite topic?  Themselves!  

Take a minute to observe. What can you learn from the other person’s appearance, demeanor, or personal belongings? Look for something that you can tell is an intentional statement about their identity and then ask about that.  A simple, "tell me about ..." or "I really like..." can break the ice, followed by questions that reflect that you are truly listening to what the other person is saying.  

Before you know it, you have hit a topic that is important to them and they feel heard by you. Through continuing your genuine interest in another individual’s passion you have created a bond that is more than small-talk.

If you sense a real connection, your challenge is to take the conversation to a place where it is appropriate and natural to create a future touchpoint. Asking for someone's phone number is sometimes logical, but this can be a bold ask the first time you meet someone. Think about asking to connect with them on social media as a lower risk way to create the ongoing connection. Or, you may find that there is another person in your network who could help your new friend - asking to get their details to make an introduction can be a great way to serve others and create an ongoing relationship.