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RELATIONSHIP: How To Turn Strangers To Friends

Several months ago, I told you that one of the odd things I enjoy doing is talking to strangers. Seeing how much I've grown to be open and good with starting a conversation with strangers, I thought 'why not do an article on that?'

It's Love-Wednesday!

How To Talk To Strangers

As they say: "Strangers are just friends you haven't met yet." However, fear, especially unnecessary fear, blocks that opportunity.

If you've always tended to wait until new people start chatting or talking to you, then it may feel overwhelming to reverse that habit.

My goal is to ginger your swagger and help you get some relaxed confidence when starting a conversation with strangers. Leggo!

First things first, I think the best ways to start a conversation with a stranger vary depending on the situation, so we have to treat them separately.

Categories Of Strangers

For the purpose of writing, I like to put strangers into one of three categories, viz:

  1. Strangers in public places
  2. Strangers in common interest areas
  3. Strangers you know, but never met

Strangers in public places 

These are people you see walking down the street, people you meet at the bus stop, on the bus, mall or restaurant, or anywhere that doesn’t include a common passion or interest. You really don’t know anything about them (other than seeing their clothes and maybe what they are buying), and they don’t know anything about you.

Strangers in public are pretty difficult to turn into friends. Not only that, but you probably don’t want to become good friends with a majority of them. It doesn't matter that you don’t like them, but you should be pretty selective with who you spend your time with since you only have a limited amount of it.

TIPS: Smile at them. Give compliments. 

Compliments are a great way to reduce social distance, remove tension, and open someone up. I personally love it when people drop me compliments. Their positivity sends positive vibes to everyone.

You: “You look great today!”
Friend/Stranger: “Thank you!” *beams*
(This then opens the space for a follow-up comment. Fire on!)

Strangers in common interest areas

This can be a person you meet at your first time in a group you just joined, at a class you are taking, at an event, at work, at church or any other place where you share a common interest. Maybe you’re on the same team, in the same training or at the same seminar. You already know that you have one thing in common.

However, just because it is common for people to meet when they have a common interest, don’t assume that it should just happen. You need to make a move and speak to these people.

TIPS: Smile at them. Ask questions

It is great to meet people you know of when you have a specific reason for wanting to connect with them. If you can both benefit each other, it can become a valuable and real relationship. Sometimes this is business related, while other times it’s what I like to call “business friendly.”

You: That previous speaker did great. You think so, too?
Friend/stranger: Hmm. . . Yes. I think . . . (When you ask questions, actually take interest to listen to their answer and follow up immediately)

Read Also: How To Avoid Awkwardness When You Run Into An Old Friend

Strangers you know, but haven’t really met

These are friends of friends, bloggers and writers you follow and any other people whom you have information about but have not yet met. Even celebrities fall into this category (unless of course you are already friends)
TIPS: Say hi. Confirm the latest gist you know about them

You: “Hi Amaka. I read your blog a lot. I just read your post on how to wear a brother's shirt, Awesome work! Are you the only daughter in your family?”
Friend/Stranger: Oh, wow. Thank you for.  . . . (Your show of your love or appreciation gets their attention. Shoot your shot already!)

I literally shoot my shot by taking pictures with them. Read What To Do When You Meet A Celebrity

I met Maraji, a social media celebrity in a church I visited last Sunday. She is such a cute shy gurl in real life. Sweet human. 😄😄
Nice to know Maraji and I use the same lipgloss 😁

You never know where your breakthrough may just happen. Maybe that stranger you struck a conversation with might be your best friend or spouse few years down the line. Or may just be a connection to your dream job.

My Personal Tool Box 

Make a move, say something positive, ask wise questions, enjoy the conversation but expect nothing more.

1. Make a move. The first thing you have to do is APPROACH the stranger. If you have a good first impression, your conversation will start much smoother and it will be much easier to move into a good flowing conversation.

2. Be positive. If you give an opinion, give it about something you like rather than something you don’t like. Complaining isn’t a good way to start off a conversation. Try: 
  • "That is a nice dress! It looks great on you. Where did you get that?” (Works better from girl to girl)
  • “I like your bag! Very classy. Do you like classy bags that much?”
  • “You look very refreshed. Did you have a good rest over the weekend?"
Seven people out of ten strangers warm enough to start a conversation with me usually starts off by making reference to my glasses. Jeez. Although I'm used to it, but please don't do that. I think it's awkward. Compliment something else.

2. Ask questions wisely. If you are asking a question, follow it up with the reason why you are asking it. People are more likely to respond positively when they are given a reason for the question being asked of them. 

I was talking to a stranger the other day, and the stranger asked "is this how you talk?" I felt so embarrassed until the stranger followed up with a positive comment, "It's cool. I actually like it". Then I replied, "I'm a voice over artist".  A smooth sailing conversation followed and boy! we had a great time in Lagos traffic. Lol.

3. Expect nothing. It's just a conversation at that moment. Not all of your conversations will turn into friendships. I have conversations in public all the time that don’t go anywhere once they finish. But the more conversations you start, the better you will get at it and the more opportunities you will have to make deeper connections.

Talking to strangers in public can really enhance your day. Rather than going out, doing your errands and spending a few hours all by yourself in traffic or briefly speaking with the people from whom you purchase your items, you can do the same tasks and have some conversations with people that are nearby your day’s activities. This social interaction can really add a lot to your overall happiness. You will also be improving your social skills by starting more conversations.

And guess what? Talking to strangers in public gives you the opportunity be the light of the world.

"That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;"
— Philippians 2:15

Cheers to spreading positivity, inspiration, and love!

Written by Nwamaka Ajaegbu 
Let's connect on Twitter: @Amakamedia
Let's connect on Instagram: @amakamedia
And Bloglovin: Amakamedia

Heart Rays . . . giving light.

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