Saturday, February 2, 2008

Talking to strangers

So many of us find it difficult, some nearly even impossible, to start talking to strangers. Maybe because it was so ingrained in us as kids that it was dangerous to do so, or maybe precisely the opposite. Maybe as adults we're all too aware of the sting of rejection.

Whatever the case, in the grown-up world, one without unnecessary ego attachments, there's nothing wrong with chatting up that cute girl or hot guy who's caught your eye. In fact, you may be missing out on an opportunity if you don't at least smile and say hello. You never know if they may be looking for a good person in their lives as well.On that note, believe it or not, the best thing to do might just be that simple. Smile. Yes, smile but sincerely. You know, not that plastered on,"I'm terrified doing this", kind of smile but rather a genuine warm greeting and say "hello". Ask how they are. Ask if they come there often (ironically of course because you both know you see each other in this space almost everyday). Just come out with small talk that hopefully makes sense and doesn't show your nerves. Be natural and if you make or say something dumb, laugh it off because the other person is probably feeling the same at that moment as well. They'll understand. You won't look stupid.

If it's the first time you're noticing this person, don't let that stop you. A little common everyday friendliness will help. Mention uncharacteristic weather, a headline in the news (particularly if a paper's in sight) or even the traffic and the door is opened to communication. Remember, your "pick up line" need not be a line at all (in fact, it shouldn't be), nor does it have to be the most creative conversation in the world. The point is to let the person know you've noticed them and have a conversation. Girls, especialy, should know that men will jump into a conversation if they initiate it because guys are worse in the approach game. They get all tongue tighed and the blurr state or stage fright syndrome takes over and they fear looking like a complete moron so they say nothing.

If you're still searching, take note of common ground. Even though the person in question may be a stranger, there's no doubt you share something in common. If you're at a certain place than you both go there often but if at that moment, it must be for a purpose. So try to get up the nerve to say something before the moment slips. Just remember, don't be afraid at what's the worst that can happen. Even they not responding in a friendly fashion or they completely ignore you. If that's the case, you're not really interested anyway, are you? Move on.

If you aren't particularly shy and can take it past a smile and hello, make your introduction more personal by noticing and commenting on something specific about your potential paramour. Are they wearing a new coat? Did they get a haircut? Do you always notice their shoes,dog,hair, beverage of choice? Whatever the detail, ask about it. Compliment it. Show, casually of course without seeming stalker like, that you've paid attention to them in the past or that you're paying attention at that moment. A person who is similarly interested will take the hint most of the time. They'll start to be interested in someone that notices them.

Lastly, if this whole idea makes you nervous, ask yourself why? What have you got to lose? Better to try talking and get no response than wonder about that "missed chance", right? If it helps, remember that people who are skilled at talking with strangers rarely plumb the depths with them in casual conversation. They start simple. They smile. They comment on the world around them. Then they find out, courtesy of the universe and its energy, that great things can happen when you're not afraid to reach out for the smallest human connection.

Bar advice. Technology makes the world a smaller place but if you can't communicate with another person in front of you, your world is still huge.

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