My friend Rashida has 437 friends on Facebook and she talks to all of them. I have 48 and I only talk to 10-15 of them. The truth is that I am scared of meeting new people and talking to strangers. For a long time I have envied Rashida for her frank and friendly attitude that wins her friends wherever she goes. But recently I have started experiencing the effects of my reserved nature in my career too. This has made me realise that I need to do something to change my behaviour. So I have been spending a lot of time with Rashida, trying to analyse how she manages to make friends so easily. I have learnt a few important lessons and would be happy to share them with anyone who has a similar problem of shyness with strangers.
How To Talk To Strangers
Rashida walks into a store and before she finishes her shopping, she speaks to at least 5-7 people she has never met before. How? Why does she not feel shy or confused or embarassed or tongue-tied? These are the feelings I experienced when I met strangers. But after attempting to become more approachable and friendly, I am finally seeing some change in myself. Here is what I have tried to do:
1. Do not avoid going out in public places where you are likely to meet new people. On the contrary, try to grab all such opportunities and meet new people every day.
2. Promise yourself that you will speak to at least 2 strangers every day for the next 40 days. Once you start doing this, you will find amazing reasons to strike up conversations.
3. Go out to social/public events by yourself. Exposing yourself to other people when you have nobody with you for support shall make you stronger and surer of yourself.
4. Do not be egoistic. Try to place yourself in other people's shoes. Once you develop sensitivity, you will atttract people more and gain new friends.
5. Speak from the heart. Saying out structured sentences that you have memorised is never of much help. Chances of making meaningful conversation increase if you put your heart into it.
The most important thing is to try to overcome your fear. So be confident and start talking to people around you.