Discover The Secret Of “The Bridge”
And Have Great Conversations With Strangers
Do you talk to strangers?
Have you ever asked yourself, “How do I talk to strangers?” You’re not alone.
Have you seen people who are totally comfortable walking up to someone they don’t know and chatting with them?
Ever wonder how they do that?
Below I’ll share one powerful communication secret that you can start using immediately to build your ability to talk to anyone, even if you’ve never met them before.
Better yet, if you’re like me and you HATE having boring small talk conversations and you’d rather be talking about something real and interesting, then keep reading. This technique can help change the conversation from “small talk hell”, to something exciting and connecting.
Before you can have a great conversation with a stranger, there’s one thing you MUST do first…
Talk to them!
The biggest obstacle to having a good interaction with someone is a failure to initiate the conversation.
It might seem obvious, but a lot is conveyed in our greetings. Here are two tips for starting the conversation off right:
1. Be Warm
Often when we’re shy and doubting ourselves, we hold back, afraid to show too much emotion. We decide to “play it cool.”
Unfortunately, playing it cool, can often come across as disinterested. Most people (no matter how confident they might seem) are unsure if others will like them. If they get no positive signals from you, they might easily conclude you are disinterested or aloof and not engage with you.
Rather than playing it cool, allow yourself to be warm and enthusiastic. Act as if they were a close friend or family member. If you engage others in a familiar, comfortable way, they’ll pick up on this and often respond in kind.
2. Be Casual
Another common way of greeting someone when we are nervous or shy is to be overly formal. This has a “How do you do, madam?” feel to it that’s unusual and not how you typically act. It’s as if you’re on your “best behavior” so as to not offend the other person.
Remember, when you start a conversation with a stranger, you’re NOT doing anything wrong!
See if you can greet them in a casual manner, as if they were a close friend. When I speak with my close friends, we often use the word “man” (because we’re cool like that). I might say something like, “How’s it going, man?” I’ve used this kind of language with people twice my age and gotten very positive responses. The more you use your natural, familiar language, the better.
Okay, so you’ve greeted the other person…now what?
Have you ever been thrust into an interaction where you exchanged names with someone, and then stood their looking at each other?
As you stare wide eyed at this stranger, your mind kicks into high gear: Oh God, I should say something. Um, uh. I have no idea what to say. Why isn’t he saying anything? This is so awkward. I gotta’ get out of here!
We’ve all been there, and it’s not pretty. So how do we avoid that?
You need, The Bridge.
All conversations consist of only two things: questions and statements.
That’s it. It might seem much more complex than this, but in it’s most basic form, everything that comes out of your mouth (or theirs) is going to be a statement or a question.
So right after the introduction, you only have two options. If you initiated with the stranger, then the ball is in your court to start.
If you initiated the conversation, it’s your responsibility to “drive” the conversation. You must be the one to ask questions or make statements until the other person starts responding.
How do you do this if you don’t know the person?
If it were a close friend, you’d know what to say because you’re aware of what’s going on in their lives. Even if you asked a vague question like, “What’s up?” your friend might still respond with something personal about their lives. That’s because they know you. The stranger doesn’t. That’s where you need The Bridge.
The Bridge is a way of connecting with someone by making a question or statement about a shared experience (like the environment you’re both in).
For example, let’s say you’re in a book store and you want to start a conversation with someone. If you went up to them and said: “So, how’s it going?”
They might take a long pause, give you a sideways glance, and say “Fine…”
They don’t know what’s going on, they don’t know what to expect. You haven’t given them any cues that say: I’m a friendly stranger who is going to interact with you in a pleasant manner. Nothing to worry about.
If you were using a bridge, you might say something like:
- “What book do you have there?”
- “What book did you come here to buy?”
- “I’m in the mood for something new…got any recommendations?”
What do you notice about these questions? They’re all about the book store, which we’re both in.
It’s a shared experience. It’s easy and comfortable. They know how to respond.
Once you’ve used the bridge, you can deepen the conversation from there. You can ask more personal questions, share information about yourself, or even talk about something unrelated to your environment.
If you don’t know how to deepen conversations, or if the idea of walking up to a stranger and talking to them freaks you out, then let’s change that!
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In order to be able to use The Bridge, you have to be aware of your environment. In order to practice, I’d suggest taking some time each day to walk around without headphones to observe and notice.
What could you comment on? What could you ask a question about? The more you look around for things, the more you’ll find.
Now that you know how to talk to strangers, get out there and give it a try today!