Conversations, especially with strangers, are not exactly comfortable to initiate. There is always a sense of insecurity that goes with it; a sense of being judged unfairly, being rejected, being inappropriate, and so on. In addition to these, we fear that we may come off as being creepy or awkward. Although, it may seem as though many people find it very easy to get along with other people they are not quite familiar with, I bet you’ll be shocked to discover that most people are very cautious and insecure before approaching a stranger for conversation. Therefore, how can you make conversations with other people without seeming awkward or creepy?
Show genuine interest in their interests and values
When you share similar interests or goals with other people, it’s easier to get cooperative, to foster the achievement of these goals for the benefit of all those involved. If you share similar values, it’s easier to find similar things to talk about. However, in the absence of these, you may, for the sake of others, show interest in their interests. Let them speak about their interests, and be curious enough to learn more about them.
Furthermore, it is important that you learn to appreciate, tolerate, and respect the differences between you and other people whom you engage in conversation. For example, you love watching sport, but I don’t. That doesn’t mean that I think watching sport is a lazy and irresponsible thing to do. I would love to hear more about it anytime any day, even though it’s not really something I fancy, as long as it is something you enjoy. In this case, I assume I am making a sacrifice to make you happy, and that in itself makes me happy.
Try to learn more about them. Not everyone will be comfortable with this, as it might seem like unnecessary prying. However, people who have genuine interest in you may not mind opening up a little; when people open up, even a little, this is usually a sign of trust. If you try to learn more about other people and you notice reticence (i.e. unwillingness to speak), stop. Apparently, not everyone likes to share about themselves.
You may ask questions such as
- What’s the nature of your job?
- What are the common challenges you face with respect to your job?
- What do you do when you are not working?
- What are your hobbies?
- Where do you reside?
- How is it like living in your area?
- How was childhood like for you?
- How many countries/villages have you visited?
- What do you hate most about other people?
- What do you value most about other people?
Understand that you want to heal, not wound
Avoid saying things that may be injurious to the self-worth of those whom you engage in conversations. Remember that they’d rather you didn’t have a conversation with them in the first place than have you belittle them. Therefore, whenever you have conversations with other people, remember that the essence is to give moral support, to heal, and not to wound. Give compliments and positive feedback, not destructive criticisms. Motivate and speak positively, not negatively. Be a shining light in the lives of other people, not a poison ivy.
Pay close attention to them
Maintain your eye contact as you converse with other people, it’s very important. When you stare at other people as you listen to what they are saying, or as you speak to them, you show that you find the conversation meaningful. Keeping eye contact means you are interested in the conversation and you respect the person you are speaking with. If you are shy, try as much as possible to maintain your eye contact, even if this isn’t easy for you. No one wants to speak to someone who is constantly looking away, as it’s devaluing and shows disinterest in our efforts and ideas.
Be willing to share about yourself
Do not be ashamed to express your values and interests. You need to be comfortable with yourself and be proud of who you are. And then, you need to be unapologetically yourself. Remember that there’s nothing wrong with you. Your values, interests, goals, and life mistakes are perfect. You are always going to be a valuable and worthwhile person. Conversation is a trading of ideas and experiences. If other people are willing to share their ideas and experiences, you should be willing to share yours. So, be tactful, and be willing to share your own experiences. Let your true nature shine, so that it would be easier to meet people who appreciate and accept you as you are. However, be warned. While you shouldn’t have to feel inadequate, you may have rational reasons to feel insecure. Be very careful with what you share about yourself. Some things you say can get you in trouble, or worse killed. If you don’t trust other people, do not share some kinds of information; you have a right not to.
Not everyone will be easy to connect with
There are people who have no interest in meeting new people. They are comfortable the way they are, and are probably loyal to the people in their lives. They probably don’t want to make new friends, or they simply find it difficult to trust other people. Whatever the reason may be (be it rational or irrational), no matter how hard you try to make conversations with these people, they just won’t yield favorably. Since they are unwilling to connect, there’s no need wasting your time. Move on.