I met a nice man the other day while I was out sketching some farm animals. It was kind of fun since I wasn’t expecting to meet anyone while doodling in the street. Anyways, he drives up, parks close, and pulls out a small stem of bean pods.
“I hope I’m not going to ruin your sketches.”
“Oh no, you’re fine.”
He walks past me and all the goats I was previously drawing bleat and race over. In my head I’m going, “This is perfect. They’re never this close!” But then he proceeds to walk down a little ways and all the animals gallop to where he is. “Oh, well… Never mind lol.”
So I proceed to sketch the horses, but he attracts them over with some alfalfa… At which point I’m ready to put away my sketchbook but I wait and draw a tree instead. In the process, he comes over and watches the animals for a couple minutes and I start to talk to him.
We end up having a thirty minute conversation about his goats and I ask him some advice. (I’ve been considering getting some goats for myself and was excited to find out they were his.) Turns out, he’s trying to get rid of some because he can’t keep up with the amount that he has.
“If you’re still around in August, I can just give you one.” (I’m planning on moving to Utah, but hoping that I’ll be back in the summer time.)
“Oh sure, no problem.”
So he gives me his phone number and information. He also tells me that in the future I can walk further up the fence line to get some better sketches. (How awesome is that?!) Then we part ways. Who knew I’d make a friend by going for a walk and making an outdoor sketch?
And it just made me think, you really can meet some nice people in Arizona. Now, contrast that with the frustrated cart finder barking at everyone at Fry’s and you soon see that you meet all sorts of people no matter where you go 🙂
Anyways, this led me to think about today’s topic.
Making Friends with Strangers for Beginners
If you’re an introvert like me, it’s not always easy talking to random people that you come across. Especially at places like the doctor’s office or the airplane. Sometimes I like to just put in some earphones and pull out a book.
But occasionally, I’ll strike up a conversation. Here’s what I’ve learned:
1. Start with something you notice about them.
I bet if you’re an introvert you’re good at noticing things about people. Peek on over and see.
It could be that they’re wearing a nice watch. For Scott, I asked him if those goats belonged to him and he said yes. It could be something like a book that they’re reading, a shirt that they’re wearing.
It really just comes down to anything that you notice about them that they may find appealing. And sometimes it takes a little bit of Q&A before you can figure out what they enjoy talking about.
2. Ask them lots of question.
Now, don’t interrogate them. That’s just awkward 🙂 But ask questions like where they’re from, what do they enjoy doing, do they have a family etc. etc. Sometimes the conversation teeters out, but other times you may find yourself a new friend. Also, giving them a compliment about something that they’re wearing or doing is a good idea too.
3. Don’t be afraid to talk about yourself.
Of course, don’t gab their ear off.
If you notice that they’re really not that interested in the conversation, then leave it. It could be that they’re having a bad day. But don’t be afraid to share some details about yourself too if they ask! A conversation is a give and take.
Share a story. Look them in the eyes. Smile.
4. Speaking of Which, Smile.
Smiling is one of the best things that you can do while talking with a stranger. (At least here in America, I don’t know if it’s always socially acceptable in other places. But here in the states, definitely smile!)
Smiling makes you more attractive and lightens your tone. It takes far less muscles than frowning. Also, it’s kind of funny, but once you start smiling, it’s kind of hard for the other person to resist reciprocating.
It takes practice to get good at this (And sometimes, it takes lots of practice 🙂 If you’re not great at first, that’s okay. You’ll never get good at something until you practice. If you need to make a script and talk to yourself in the mirror, then go for it! My first few attempts at this were definitely awkward at best, and downright unbearable at worst. However, now that I’ve done it for a few years, it’s gotten a lot easier!
If you follow those simple steps, you’re well on your way to becoming friends with complete strangers. It doesn’t always work, (not everyone is in the mood to talk) but in most cases I’ve found that it does.
I hope this article helped you out! If you’ve got any fun stories about talking with strangers, mention them in the comments below! Thanks and have a blessed day 🙂