Don’t talk to strangers! That’s what they all say. We’ve been raised to believe that strangers are dangerous creatures, like monsters that are out to get us. But to what degree is this actually true? Let’s explore!
Don’t Talk to Strangers! Or Talk?
Every friend was once a stranger. Isn’t that so true? Remember when you first went to school? Wasn’t every person there a complete stranger to you? But then you started talking to them and got to know each other…and that was the start of a beautiful friendship!
See where we’re going with this? Strangers can become friends. Some friends may stay with us for a short while, usually until life pulls them in a contrary direction. But others may find a way to be around for much longer – like lifelong friends!
One Reddit user talks about how she met her best friends at the beach (initially as strangers): “My friends and I were having a fire on the beach, and a few random people asked to join and we got each other’s number and boom. It’s been 10 years.”
Imagine if she’d never have chatted with those new people. She’d have missed out on making lifelong friends. And we all know how important friends are for your mental health! A PubMed research paper published in early 2023 talks about how friendships can improve one’s mental wellbeing, emotional resilience, and overall happiness.
Reaching out to new people (A.K.A. strangers) is a great way to make new friends. Of course, not every stranger you talk to will be willing to engage with you. Some might even give you an odd look, but don’t worry about it! Everyone’s wired differently, so don’t take the rejection personally. As long as you’re not being intentionally ’creepy – no stalking! – it should be fine.
Moreover, some strangers are good for one or two conversations. You can talk to them to pass the time. For example, if you’re in the airport lounge trying to make time go faster, you can try making small talk with the people sitting next to you. Try assessing their body language to see if they might be interested in having a short chat.
How to Start a Conversation with a Stranger
Here are some tips and things to consider when you want to talk to strangers:
First, make sure you don’t look threatening. If you’re dressed poorly, people may have some preconceived notions about you. Strangers may be less willing to trust you (at least upon initial contact), so try to look decently dressed when you’re in public.
Simple things like combing your hair and wearing clean and neat clothes go a long way. Don’t stress about your appearance beyond that; meeting new people should be fun, not tiresome!
Read Their Facial Expression and Body Language
When you find yourself in a public setting next, see if there’s anyone who looks interested in having a conversation. This can get tricky since none of us can read minds. Luckily though, we can read faces! Body language and facial expression are a great way to analyse whether or not somebody may be interested in talking to you.
For example, if somebody looks like they’re upset or lost in deep thought, they may need space. Perhaps they’ve got something on their mind and don’t want to share it with a stranger. Au contraire, if you really feel pulled to the person, you can chat with them. But this may work better if you’ve been sitting near them for a while, as opposed to randomly walking up to them and asking what’s wrong.
On the other hand, if you see somebody looking cheerful or smiling while gazing at the scenery, they may be up for a chat. Notice their body language: do they look relaxed and welcoming? If not, maybe look for another stranger to approach.
In conclusion, only talk to strangers who seem open to conversation. Don’t push it with someone who has ‘closed’ body language, such as crossed arms or an upset facial expression.
How to Become a Master at Talking to Strangers
Practice makes perfect. To become a ‘talk to strangers’ pro, you need to start practising with more people!
First, spot a stranger that might be willing to talk. Use the guidelines mentioned in the previous section to help.
Then, try finding some common ground to chat about. Perhaps you’ve both found a scenic spot to gaze at. Or, maybe they’re wearing a shirt you really like. Try complimenting them and connecting over the thing being discussed (like their cute shirt!). Everyone loves a good compliment. Make sure it’s genuine, though. Fake compliments are super easy to spot – most of the time.
If they’re carrying merchandise from a franchise you like, use it as a conversation starter. Or, if there’s an obvious common interest (like dogs, if you’re both at a dog park), try chatting about that. You can share a quick fact, like “Hey, I see you have a German shepherd. Did you know they’re one of the most loving dog breeds out there?” Or, you can talk about why you love that particular dog.
Apply the same principal in different situations. For example, at a coffee shop, you can surprise them with a cool fact about the drink they’re having. Then, you can proceed to introduce yourself and ask if you can grab a nearby seat. This is an excellent way to break the ice and talk to strangers in food spots.
Also, don’t forget to smile! Body language goes a long way at communicating friendliness and warmth. Smiling makes you look approachable and can help strangers want to engage with you.
Why do Strangers Always Talk to Me?
If strangers are always approaching you, congrats! You have immense charm. There’s something about you that draws people in. It could be your face, sense of style, or approachable vibe. Either way, good for you!
You have a gift when it comes to engaging with strangers. But remember, not everyone who approaches you will have the best of intentions. Only talk to strangers who appear decent-looking and non-pushy.
If someone comes off as ‘creepy,’ be quick to dismiss them. Maybe they find you pretty and want to have a chat. Or…maybe they find you attractive and want to convince you to participate in something unsafe. You can’t be 100% sure until you’ve known them for a while and screened their personality.
Sadly, ‘stranger danger’ – and the anxiety that comes with it – can be real sometimes. Of course, not all strangers are dangerous. Most are completely safe to talk to. They’re normal people, just like you! But if someone approaches you with a devious look in their eye, it’s easy to tell they’re not going to be good company. Dismiss them right away!
Getting back to topic, though: strangers may approach you often because you have a friendly aura. Maybe you have an easygoing gait or smile a lot. Such body language can signal openness, encouraging people to come have a chat with you. Enjoy it! (And be safe when needed, of course.)
Is it Wrong to Talk to Strangers Online?
This depends on who you’re talking to and where you found them. It also depends on the topics of conversation.
If you’re chatting with a stranger online and they start asking personal questions, back off! They don’t need to know your age, last name, address, and phone number. If they’re curious about your age or city, you can let them know – but only if they share their own, too. It’s better to avoid sharing your exact address though. There’s no reason why they need to know that! Some strangers can be extremely nosy, so don’t hesitate to cut the convo short if you start feeling uncomfortable. Not everyone is meant to be your friend. Some people just won’t impress you, and that’s okay!
On the brighter side of things, chatting with strangers online can be pleasant if they stay within appropriate conversation limits. It’s okay to chat with people who appreciate talking about common interests or shared grievances. It’s even better if you have a non-specific username (and not your real name) and cartoon avatar or profile picture. In such cases, go all out and share what you need!
To summarise: yes, you can talk to strangers on the internet. Just make sure you do it the right way and don’t share sensitive information.
Do Girls or Guys Actually Like Being Approached by Strangers?
Whether or not somebody enjoys talking to strangers depends on their personality. Some girls and guys genuinely appreciate it, while others may find it annoying.
If you really want to chat with a girl or guy you’re interested in, shoot your shot! If they’re not interested, you’ll find out pretty soon.
Individuals with more introverted personas may appreciate being approached. It’s easier for them to be approached than to initiate conversations. Extroverts, by default, are always willing to have a chat. So, chances are that most stranger will be happy to connect either way.
Of course, there’s a few exceptions. You don’t need to talk to strangers who don’t feel comfortable about it. In most cases, they’ll let you know, and often indirectly.
See, some people are just extra reserved by nature. They’ll typically shy away when you try to chat with them. If so, let them be.
You might find others who appreciate silent downtime. You can tell whether or not someone may be open to conversation by the place they’re sitting in. For example, if you’re in a quiet place, like a library, think twice before starting a conversation. Most people aren’t there to socialize. Many will be trying to catch some downtime while reading fiction. Others may be too busy working on their computers to chat with you. In such situations, most guys and girls won’t appreciate being approached unnecessarily.
But if you’re in a happening place, like a bar, go ahead and talk to strangers all you like! It’ll take the pressure off of the other person if you approach them first. Plus, you’ll get someone fun to hang out with. If you both like the conversation enough, you could get their number and see where things go. It’s a win-win for both teams!