Starting up a conversion with strangers is difficult.
For some, chatting with a random person can be downright awkward. For others, it may even trigger a wave of anxiety. Because of this, many people just politely smile or nod at strangers. But most throw on headphones, sunglasses, and a 😐.
But what if I told you (😎) that if you talk to one stranger a day, you might get lucky? It worked for me.
Isolation Prevents Observation
I’m not suggesting you walk around your office lunch spot and talk up every person you see like you’re at a backyard BBQ. But when you close yourself off, you miss out on an opportunity.
Living in Los Angeles, there are tons of people around me every day that I ignore, and they too ignore me. We simply cannot talk to everyone we see here.
I’ve been a career software engineer for the last 15 years. While the stereotypes about social skills and shyness are not true, I do lack a certain “face-to-face” aspect in my day-to-day job as I interface with programs, networks, and systems, and Slacks, Emails, and GitHub issues.
I’d tell you a joke about UDP, but you may not get it.
After reading a book about the hidden factor of luck (The Luck Factor: The Scientific Study of the Lucky Mind by Richard Wiseman), I decided that I had good luck, but also realized I could improve it even more.
How I did it
While talking to strangers as a chance game of opportunity might be common sense, some of us are just more natural with communication. When I first tried to complete my daily luck quest, I sort of forced conversations on the first person I saw that I didn’t know.
Over time I developed a quick way to have natural lucky conversations consistently:
- Look for people being openly inquisitive or talking to themselves or their friend
- Look for people making eye contact and not in a hurry
- If all else fails, say something to someone you see on a daily or weekly basis
If someone makes you feel stupid, or even ignores you, then move on. Take the risk and you might find a wonderful new friend, idea, or work opportunity. Maybe you’ll just help the other person have a nicer day.
You’ll reach a point where talking will be much easier for you, and you’ll level up your confidence with all the practice.
Keeping up with this goal to talk to someone every day will also improve your skills as a public speaker, team leader, and functioning member of society — extra bonuses!