Random People: Art Of Learning To Talk To Strangers

Updated October 8, 2022by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Have you ever had to wait in line at a store and found yourself avoiding eye contact, whether with employees or other customers? Have you ever seen someone who seemed so at ease in a crowd of strangers that they were able to have a casual conversation with anyone, without coming off as strange or annoying? Maybe you may wish it was easier to meet new people or feel at ease at a party. Let’s consider this from a certain perspective: in many occasions, friendships start out with one person taking the risk of starting a conversation. Learning to talk to random people can be challenging but fun and rewarding and you can learn more about your hesitation to do this through online therapy. This article will provide some insight into learning how to reach out to others and kickstart potential friendships.

Stop Worrying About the Outcome With These People

A conversation is usually the most common way to start a relationship with another person. But not every conversation will lead to a new friend. However, consider that the goal of every random interaction isn't necessarily a lifelong friendship. Sometimes, speaking with new people at the grocery store or the gym can lead to you feeling more at ease with your speaking abilities. A friendly chat with a stranger may remain just a friendly chat, but small interactions like these can help build your confidence. It's like practice for when you have a more meaningful conversation with someone who can become a good friend.

It is completely normal to feel nervous about the idea of striking up a conversation with someone you don’t know. For many people, it can be difficult to overcome the fear of saying something wrong. You may be tempted to plan your conversation out beforehand. While this can be beneficial in some cases, remember that working for authentic and genuine conversations can lead to increased self-confidence and lasting friendships.

Do You Dread Meeting New People?

Ask Questions

One of the easiest ways to start a conversation is to ask the other person questions about themselves. This can get them talking about things that are important to them. It also increases the chance you are able to find a common topic of interest. As you find out more about them, you are likely to find that people often ask reciprocal questions about you in turn. 

Don't Worry What Strangers Think of You

When you make yourself a part of a conversation in public, remember that being true to yourself is more important than what strangers think. Who you are is no less valid than who anyone else is. Every person has their own story and journey, and yours is just as important as anyone else’s. So be proud of yourself and be honest about yourself. If the conversation has the potential to become a future friendship, remember that you don't need or want friends who don't accept you for who you are. The things you think everyone else is noticing about your imperfections are usually things that only you notice. Talking to random people can be easier than you think!

Look for Something That You Have in Common

One of the easiest ways to start a conversation is to find something that you can connect with the other person about. It may sound difficult when you consider how many interests you and the other person may have, but it's a lot easier to do this than you might think. If you ask a few questions you can usually start to find something that is similar. It could be that you went to a school in the same geographical area, that you are in the same line of work, or that you both dislike the new way they moved the checkout line at the store. If you can find just one thing to connect over, it can make the rest of your conversation a lot easier.

Choose the Right People to Spark Conversation With

When thinking about talking to strangers, remember that not everyone wants to continue a conversation. It's important to learn how to read people's body language, such as if they fold their arms or if they smile at you. This way, you can identify people who might want to talk from the ones that have closed themselves off to the possibility. If someone is looking at their phone, makes sure not to make eye contact with others, or is glaring at everyone in the room, it might not be the right time to try to talk to them.

Don't Make Assumptions About Others

A book cannot be judged by its cover. Assumptions are not going to help you on this journey and neither will snap judgments. Remember that everyone has their own personal story and journey. It’s not wise to think that you know something about a stranger when they have not confirmed it themselves. For example, if you see a woman with a child, it’s not necessarily accurate to assume that the woman is that child’s mother. You never know what things might offend people, so you may want to steer clear of these topics. Instead, try to find a common ground as mentioned in the previous section.

Steer Clear of Controversial Topics

When you want to make small talk with someone, you may want to avoid heavy or deep topics such as religion and politics. These are topics that are very personal to people. Most people generally have strong feelings one way or another. Instead of making small talk, you could find yourself in a heated debate. Try to stick to topics such as work environments, popular eateries, or movies and TV shows.

Think About What You Can Learn

Every person is unique and has their own story to tell. Instead of being stressed or anxious over having to talk to someone, consider changing your mindset to focus on what you'll be able to learn from them. It's interesting to hear all the different types of jobs or life experiences that people have had. If you shift your focus on what the other person can teach you, it may help take some of the pressure off of you.

Learn Current Events

If you want to be able to small talk with others it can be helpful to know what's going on in the world. If you know a little bit about a lot of different topics, it will make it easier to find something that you can talk to other people about. Some examples include what the big news is in sports, local affairs, what movies are coming out, and the new restaurant that's going to be opening downtown.

Remember that you are simply striking up small talk with someone, not trying to turn them into your instant best friend. It may not be that they don’t care or cannot care, but they may not know how to respond to your particular situation.

Chat With Them for Fun

Starting up a casual conversation can make boring errands more enjoyable than standing quietly while you wait to finish your task. Go ahead and smile, say hi, and crack a joke. It may help make you feel better about yourself and your day for very little risk.

If you feel anxious about talking to strangers, try thinking about the situation logically. Remember that talking to another adult in public is not going to be broadcasted. Everyone is not looking at you like you’re on stage. Even if strangers make a judgment about you, remember that it's largely unimportant to your life and other friendships.

When anxiety makes it difficult to get over your fear of striking up a conversation, talk to a professional therapist to help you take small steps toward confidence. There are uniquely trained therapists on online platforms who can help evaluate your situation and provide guidance. In a study conducted to evaluate the impact of cognitive behavioral therapy via telephone for symptoms of social phobia, 93% of participants who were able to attend all telehealth calls saw a significant improvement in their social anxiety, which led to a better quality of life one year after the study.

Online therapy can be highly beneficial now that technology is advancing to meet our daily needs. If you have a busy schedule and are unable to attend traditional therapy sessions, you may find that online therapy is more flexible and accommodating. You are usually able to schedule online sessions outside of normal business hours, such as the weekends or in the evenings. If you are uncertain about how to communicate with your therapist, know that they are licensed and trained to assist you through different modalities such as live messaging and phone calls.

Read below for some user testimonials of individuals who used BetterHelp to improve their social abilities:

“Jennifer Albert has helped tremendously throughout the year and a half that she has been my therapist. She has been kind and supportive during and between our sessions, always helping me get to the root of my issues and helping me process and deal with whatever came up. I have progressed a lot throughout this year and a half thanks to my sessions with her. My anxiety has diminished significantly and I feel much more confident in dealing with my issues. Jennifer Albert is also always on time and makes scheduling of sessions easy and clear. She has always been there for me and has always been accommodating. I feel very lucky to have had her as my therapist!”


“Working with Dr. McClennen was absolutely wonderful. I’ve tried therapy in the past but never felt safe enough to open up about my feelings. She not only created a safe place for me to talk but she also provided great encouragement, consistent follow-up and challenged my thinking in ways I really appreciate. Dr. McClennen helped me get through family issues, body issues, come to terms with my anxiety, professional issues and created a space for me to think through my internalized anti-Blackness. Can’t say enough positive things about her. Forever grateful for having the opportunity to work with her.”


Commonly Asked Questions On This Topic Found Below:

Where can I talk to a random person?
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