Narrative Coffee. Everett, Washington. The time is 11 o’clock in the morning, and it’s a Monday. On the way in I notice a small kiddo running around. He locks eye contact with me, dashes over, flashes a smile and says, “Hi.” He’s instantly endearing to put it mildly. I kneel down, get on his level, and say hello back. His name is Noah and he wants to show me his new favorite toy: it’s a one of those fit the shapes into their correct spot wooden puzzle boards which seems to be all the rage with children these days. This one particularly is farm themed. Noah’s favorite is the horse. He is quite proud of that. He smiles once more, gives me a high five worthy of complete victory, and zooooom hes on his way with the rest of his day. Just. Like. That.
Don’t overthink talking with new people. Simply walk up and begin talking.
Sometimes we over complicate things. How do I meet new people? Be intrusive. Everyone has the idea of what they want to do in their day, their routine; I want you to be the unknown variable in their day. Everyone seems to want someone interesting to bust into their day, but few actually do the busting. I want you to be a routine-busting-conversation-starting-badass.
Simply go up and strike up a conversation. If you aren’t a very outgoing person, a little shy, or quite introverted this might initially be outside of your comfort zone. Good, I want you to do this regardless. Especially when you are uncomfortable with the idea. But how do we start a conversation. Here are a couple ideas on how to start a conversation:
1. You don’t have to have something interesting to say. You are, by nature, interesting. So simply, say what is obvious in the world around.
We see someone. Someone that has that je ne sais quoi quality to them that just begs for us to go up and talk to them. Our first instinct is to have something incredibly interesting to say, but, it is my opinion, that is a waste of time. Instead, go up to them, say hello, and state whatever is obvious in your current surroundings. Sounds strange, right? Like you are selling yourself short, right? I would argue differently.
You are probably already quite the interesting cookie with many hobbies, compelling ideas, and a completely original life story. (If this is not you, maybe it is time to shake up your life a bit. Regardless, you have an interesting life story.) You see, you don’t have to have something initially interesting to say because you are already interesting by the nature of being your unique and one-of-a-kind self. Trust that. Just walk right up, say hi, make eye contact, introduce yourself, and THEN state the obvious. Or you could even lead with stating the obvious and rolling right off the back with that. Either will work.
2. Provide a conversation starting question or talk about something that has been on your mind as of late and actively listen to what they have to say.
Great conversation has back and forth communication with depth. And, in my experience, one of the greatest methods of creating a more interesting and compelling conversation is leading out with a question that you honestly think about a lot. Here’s a trick, you can reuse old conversations you’ve had with friends, coworkers, and family members. Do not ask a yes or no question. Yes and no questions are the bane of great conversations, period. Instead, ask a question that has some depth to it and that can be flushed out. And, once you’ve asked the question I want you to: shut up, make eye contact, and listen without thinking of the next thing to say. Once you’ve listened to their answer, you have the option of creating a dialogue by offering your thoughts on the subject.
Check in with the Person after about 5 minutes. Show that you value their time while checking their interest level in continuing.
Let’s say you have been successfully having a conversation with this new person. (If not, don’t worry, just by putting yourself out there and saying hello you’ve already provided value in your life. The more you put yourself out there and begin talking to strangers, the easier it will be, the more likely when you run across someone incredibly interesting that you won’t let the opportunity pass you by.) Anywhozzle, let’s say you have be chatting for a little bit of time now, around 5 minutes. I like to check in with the person to see if they want to/can continue the conversation, or if they need to get back to their day. Remember, we interrupted their routine and we want to allow them the out if they need to get back to it. No one likes a conversation they feel trapped in.
This provides the person an out, and, more importantly, shows that you value their time. If they decide to go about their day, thank them for the conversation and wish them a merry day. If they decide to stay in the conversation, buckle up and fasten your seat-belt because you might have just entered the realm of a deeper connection.
Sometimes less is more. Don’t converse until conversation death. Trust your judgement and end on a good note.
You two vibed? Awesome! Collect their contact information for a future conversation
Okay, you two really vibed, and, goodness, you find yourself wanting to spend more time talking. Ask them if they want to meet up later. It’s less stressful (and a lot less weird) than asking for their contact information right of the back, and, the beautiful part, provides you the excuse to snag that phone number. I mean, you can’t meet up later unless you have their information.
I’m a big proponent of getting their phone number. It’s more personal and you won’t get lost in the sea of their social media. Major plus side to grabbing their number, you stand out in their day.
Practice. Practice. Practice.
Practice daily. Period. Especially on the days where it scares you most. Additionally I’m a big believer of having a conversation with everyone and I mean everyone. Too often people wait around, day after day, to run into someone interesting enough or attractive enough to talk to. This is an incredibly limiting way to live your life and you are seriously diminishing the number of positive interactions you could be having in a day. I have a great mantra for you: be incredibly generous with your first 5 minutes and very selective with your time. #thankyoumatthewhussey
When you live life this way, you get to be selective with the people you regularly hang out with because you meet so many people. And, you get to meet so many new people as well. Double win. Don’t think everyone is interesting? I think it may be time to challenge your old beliefs. Everyone has something interesting to them.
Conclusion: Enrich your life with new connections.
Be intrusive. Take challenges. Connect. And be the black sheep of human connection. There are so many interesting stories out there waiting to be heard and friendships begging to be written. The time to start is today. Right now. And, who knows, you might meet your best friend tomorrow, or the love of your life next Wednesday, or a curious kid named Noah that wants to show you his favorite toy. You also might not.
But, I can promise you this, if you put yourself out there and meet new people daily, you will have a more enriched life and a greater understanding of human connection. I guarantee it. So go out there and be intrusive!