In our social media driven world, it often takes us longer than we’d like to admit to look up from our screens and engage with the people around us. It is so easy to spend a day never speaking to a single person face to face. We go about our daily lives, engaging with people who aren’t physically there, chatting constantly via text, but when it comes to those who are physically present, we fail time and time again to make connections. At Jackie, we want to encourage you to seek out opportunities to strike up conversation with strangers. It might be uncomfortable at first, but it’s a habit that is sure to produce lasting and meaningful results.
How can we facilitate meaningful engagement with strangers?
Think about your setting. If you are in a coffee shop or at the gym, surrounded by people wearing headphones, it might be more difficult to seek out conversation. Look for others who seem open to obliging your challenge. Do your best to read the people around you. You’ll be able to gather the information you need to move forward and start chatting up a storm.
Take a minute to self analyze. Are you the one who is too enwrapped in other things, that someone wouldn’t attempt conversation with you? If that’s the case, pop your phone in your purse, give the headphones a break and get to it! Ask yourself if you are interruptible. Being open to interruption is the secret to effectively meeting new people.
This may seem unnecessary to suggest and incredibly straightforward, however, if your disposition suggests that you are a generally grumpy person, others aren’t going to feel as tempted to strike up conversation with you. Something as simple as a smile will help others feel your warm presence, which will help you ease yourself into a brief exchange with a stranger.
The biggest roadblock in this endeavor is falsley judging those around you, and, as a result, missing the opportunity to connect with someone and their story. Leave all of your preconceived notions, biases and judgements at the door. Refuse to make assumptions about someone based on how they look or dress; rather, use these differences as an opportunity to spur conversation forward. Ask questions. Engage. Care for those around you. When there is no room for judgement, there is capacity for growth, learning and exposure to new things.
Being able to determine similarities is a perfect way to break the ice and strike up conversation with a stranger. Identify similar experiences and look for conversation starters. Are both of you struggling to fit the lid on your cappuccinos? Looking through produce at the grocery store and failing to find that perfectly ripe avocado? It sounds silly and simple, but being able to commiserate over shared experiences is one of the easiest ways to get your foot in the door and begin a conversation that has the potential to lead to something more meaningful.
Jackie women, we want to encourage you to get out there and expect that something will happen. When you are expectant of good things, good things will come your way. Embrace positivity as you seek out opportunities to engage with people who are right in front of you. You will soon come to appreciate the joy that comes from embracing the positive and striving to make the most of every moment.