Hello there! Today I want to talk about better ways to connect with people, particularly strangers. (Cringing yet? Just kidding!) Whether you're an extrovert or introvert, knowing how to start and deepen conversations, and overall better connect with people, is an important skill to have. And why wait for someone to break the ice first?! Adam and I have made incredible new friendships over the course of this year, and they all started as conversations that we initiated. The following tips may seem like simple, little details, and although they're easy to miss, you'll be surprised at what a huge difference they make! Give 'em a try next time, who knows - maybe you'll make an awesome new friend! :)
SMILE! A smile really goes such a long way. You never know - you could make someone’s crappy day with just a smile! A smile translates as positivity and happiness, and people are attracted to both of these things. It also automatically makes you seem like a nice, approachable person, and others will naturally be more inclined to open up to you.
Say hi first! Get out of your comfort zone and be the one to break the ice. You’ll see that once it becomes a habit, it'll be second nature. I think people respect people who are assertive and confident, and nothing says you are more than taking initiative. Say hi, and you’ll be surprised - you never know who you’ll meet!
Make eye contact. A lack of eye contact translates to a lack of attention and ultimately, a lack of interest. There is nothing quite as quietly powerful as focused eye-to-eye contact.
Be mindful of your body language. Slouched over with crossed arms translates as: I’m uncomfortable, you make me uncomfortable, can you leave me alone please? Obviously, we don't want that! Also, simply nodding or smiling lets others know you’re connecting. It’s a super effective way to communicate without taking over the conversation.
Show genuine interest. Do this by asking questions about them, pay attention, and acknowledge them with your body language. Laugh when they are trying to be funny (even if they’re not!). I mean, who’d want to be friends with someone who doesn’t have at least some sense of humor? Also, be aware of how you talk. Interest can be heard in your voice; make sure your tone communicates enthusiasm.
Deepen the conversation. Go farther than yes or no questions and answers. If there is something you relate to, say so! People like to know there are other people who share interests, struggles, or views with them. If someone has a different opinion than you and you haven’t built a foundation of relationship and trust with them yet, take it easy.
Actually listen. Talk a lot, but listen more. People notice when you don't. Interrupting is a big no-no - it tends to happen when we're more preoccupied with what we're going to respond with next than what the other person is saying.
Compliment. Everyone likes compliments - let’s be honest here! Obviously, don’t be creepy with excessive flattery, just be nice by pointing out something that you appreciate about that person. Positive words can go so far. Compliments are also great conversation starters.
Show empathy. Don’t confuse this with sympathy or pity; empathy is putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and trying to see things through their eyes. If someone’s having a bad day, you can show empathy by humbling yourself and saying something that shows that you’re sensitive, like: “I’m so sorry you’re going through that, it must be so difficult. I would be upset too.” Empathy is very, very important; it says a lot about your character.
Don’t be afraid to exchange contact or social media info! It's totally ok to ask! I've realized that most people you see yourself being friends with probably feel the same way, but sometimes they're too shy to ask to exchange information and hang out. :)
It's funny - when we're kids, we can make friends with strangers so easily because we have no reservations...but it sort of becomes this awkward thing when we're older! And why is that? The world is so big and full of incredible people, and in my experience, meeting new people and making friends has never been more fun. :)
Cheers to new friendships!
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