Talk To Strangers? Approaching The Great Unknown

By Nicola Kirkpatrick|Updated April 5, 2022

Do you want to talk to strangers but don't know how? It may sound funny worded that way, but if we never meet any strangers, then we never have the opportunity to create new relationships and connections. Whether you want a new romantic relationship, friendship, or acquaintance, talking to an unfamiliar person can enrich your life. As humans, we are social creatures and most of us desire to feel connected to other people. The internet and social media make communicating with strangers much easier and less intimidating. And there's always the good old-fashioned way to meet strangers such as simply saying 'hi' at the coffee shop. Once you know where to find people you would like to get to know (the strangers) and how to talk to them, you will be a pro at approaching the great unknown.

How to Meet Strangers

Meeting strangers through a screen takes the pressure off. If the conversation gets awkward or goes awry, you can easily ditch the conversation and connect with someone else. You may want to do this more in the beginning, but as time goes on, you can always challenge yourself to hang in there and try a simple, "I'm sorry, I misunderstood you. Let's try again!" There are countless apps and websites dedicated to connecting people from all over the world, including: LinkedIn. Tinder, OKCupid, Meetup, Friendsy, Bonappetour, Happn, Party with a Local, Bumble, Hinge, GetReal, Tastebuds.

While this is a great way to meet people, you will want to exercise some caution. Meeting people on some of these sites can create a feeling of instant gratification or even the illusion that the perfect person is on click away. Remind yourself that meeting people online is essentially taking the hard part out (searching for new people in real life) and setting you up for success by connecting you to people who also want to connect, BUT it still takes time to get to know someone. You do not want to get so wrapped up in the process that you don't give yourself time to get to know people. Or disregard someone because you want to find someone better.

If chat rooms are more your style, choose a chat room on topics of interest. Shared interests break the ice. Fortunately, there are chat rooms and message boards for basically any topic from creative writing to parenting to traveling. Even if you think your hobby or interest is unusual, you will probably be surprised to find an online community with the same one!

A final way to meet strangers via technology is through video games. Many video games provide a forum to play alongside strangers for free. As you embark on new challenges and conquer the enemy together, you might form a lasting bond.

But meeting strangers via technology is not your only option. In fact, some people still prefer to meet people organically such as at a coffee shop, bar, hostel, church, university, or volunteer experience. Approaching a stranger in person might seem more daunting, but it can also be more rewarding. If you want to take a break from the screen, you can put yourself out there and show the stranger who you really are. One benefit to this is you can accelerate the getting to know you phase and you are likely to get an instinct and know if this is someone you want to invest more time in or not.

How to Talk to Strangers

After you have met a stranger, what next? Here are some tips to keep in mind when you are first talking to this new person:

Master the first impression. You will be judged by your appearance; it's human nature. To make a good first impression, project the image you desire with your clothing, posture, and body language. This is not said to suggest that you need to be fake or someone you are not, but we are generally our best selves when we feel good about how we present ourselves. Approach the person with calm confidence and a friendly smile.

Craft a Memorable Message. Especially when starting a conversation online, begin with something other than "Hey" or "What's up?" Stand out from the crowd with a personal, genuine message, such as a compliment. Think of a few conversation topics to get things started, and before you know it, the conversation will flow naturally. One example could be asking if they have tried a restaurant you really like and ask them where they like to eat. You want to keep it positive when you are just meeting someone. So, it makes more sense to talk about a restaurant you really like rather than one you hate or had a bad experience with.

Discover the art of conversation. When your acquaintance is talking, truly listen instead of forming your response. Listening is the key to a meaningful conversation because it allows you to ask questions and make powerful connections. Sometimes when we want to make connections, it's easy to get caught up on our own responses and this is a big turn off for the other person. You don't have to say the exact right thing and there is no perfect response. The main thing is that you are fully present and convey to the other person know you are interested in what they are saying.

Seek common ground. An entry point into a memorable conversation is common ground. Shared interests, hobbies, and passions are natural fodder for conversations. Eventually, you can hone and deepen your relationship by discussing differences, but it is always best to start with commonalities. If the other person mentions something they enjoy, be enthusiastic and say that you do as well.

Read body language. In a conversation with a stranger, you must be sensitive to body language. Crossed arms, lack of eye contact, and other "closed" off body language signal a lack of interest. If this happens, don't force it; simply connect with others. And makes sure that your own nerves don't cause you do show this body language as others will assume you do not want to interact with them.

Speak with an online therapist. An online therapist can help you develop a master skill set that will enrich current relationships and spark new ones. Your therapist might help you practice with role-plays and help you make the most of your strengths and help you find ways to improve on the parts that are hard for you. With the help of a counselor, you will be able to navigate the difficult waters of relationships.

Talking to strangers can be a rewarding experience. With the right approach, you can develop new, strong relationships both online and in person. If you have trouble with this, or the anxiety is so significant it keeps you from trying, or you just want to improve on the skills you already have, talking to a therapist can be extremely helpful. BetterHelp has thousands of counselors ready to help you. All you need is an internet connection and a smartphone, tablet, or computer.

Helpful mental health resources delivered to your inbox
For Additional Help & Support With Your Concerns
Speak with a Licensed Therapist
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.