Communicating with strangers can be one of the most intimidating, yet rewarding, experiences that people regularly engage in.
Whether approaching strangers is something that triggers your nerves, or something that brings you great pleasure, there are ways in which we each can strive to improve our conversation skills and set ease to situations involving strangers.
It's important to remember that from every interaction, something can be gained. The key to this is to unfold the layers of general conversation to the more personal experience being offered.
Here are some tips for that:
- Maintain eye contact during all conversations. While this can be nerve wracking and uncomfortable for some people, it is necessary to engage in intimate conversation. It informs the other party that you are listening with intent, engaged, interested, and willing to offer yourself to their situation. Eye contact is something that is a common struggle among many people, but that does not mean that it is something that cannot be improved upon. It is a simple mannerism that can completely steer the conversation down a more in-depth journey.
- Be respectful with your word choice, phrases, and utilization of sarcasm. While your best friends and close family members may understand your sarcasm and jokes, the likelihood is that at some point in your life, they have been misinterpreted by someone that does not know you all that well. Sarcasm can pull a conversation for miles, if used appropriately, but can also immediately halt the progression that a conversation had began to make. Be cognoscente of those around you, of their beliefs and attitudes, and maintain respect until that door has been opened. Words of advice: you never want to be the first one to initiate sarcasm in a conversation with a stranger. Allow them to inch towards that atmosphere, ensuring that you are falling in tow with their humor and not inadvertently insulting someone.
- Use an appropriate tone of voice. Conversations with strangers become awkward and uncomfortable when you allow them to. Avoid yelling and being brash, but please be sure to speak at a hearing-appropriate level. If you are whispering, you are not only implying that you want limited engagement with this person, but you are making the situation forced and uncomfortable for all present. Speak as though you are conversing with a friend and your tone of voice is sure to represent your interest in the conversation in an appropriate manner.
- Be complimentary, especially during your first engagement with a stranger. Criticisms have their place, but that place is generally saved and fitting for conversations with friends and close family members. It is great to tell a stranger that you like the color of their shoes, but it is not okay to tell a stranger that they'd look better on someone with smaller feet. Use common sense in this regard. If you wouldn't say it to your boss or supervisor at work, then the odds are that you should not approach a stranger with similar sentiments.
- Use active listening skills, at all times. This may be difficult in select situations, such as if you have your children in tow and are regularly chasing after them, but active listening can be conducted in nearly any conversation that allows. Strangers will find you engaging and respectful if you show interest in what they are saying, but strangers will be attracted to you if you present acknowledgement for what they are saying. Active listening skills can be learned, just be sure that you are employing them during all situations to build upon your own conversational skill set.