Sometimes you CAN talk to strangers!
We’ve all been there before: someone catches your eye while you’re on the bus or in the supermarket and before you can think of something to say, they’ve disappeared from sight, taking with them your hopes of what a lovely life you two could have together. While you don’t want to come across as a weirdo, sometimes these opportunities are too good to miss. Here’s how we suggest you do it…
Unless you want to end up on a Most Wanted list, take time to think about the circumstances in which you want to get chatting. Yes, that might be the potential love of your life walking down that dark street or sitting in the cafe with a wedding ring on show, but you’ll never find out because this is not an appropriate time to start talking to someone.
A good approach
As good market researchers and sales reps will tell you, never approach someone dead-on from the front or the back; this makes people feel extremely uncomfortable and they are likely to quicken their pace and get the hell out of there. If you want to talk to someone, approach them slowly, from the side.
Test the water
Compliments or chat-up lines which might work at a party do not go down so well in real life. It’s better to think of something genuine to say to kick off the conversation. You might want to be helpful and point out their shoelace is undone or that the gallery they’re in is about to close (if these things are true!), or to ask for help yourself. For example: ‘Do you mind getting the vanilla ice cream down for me? I can’t reach it.’ It works even better if you ask an open-ended question which will allow them to talk about themselves. For example: ‘Do you know any good book shops around here?’
Read the signs
If you start talking to someone and they clearly don’t want to chat, be polite then leave them alone. Signs that conversation is a no-no include: one-word answers, no eye contact, arms and/or legs crossed, or if they grapple nervously for their phone. It sounds obvious but it’s amazing how many people ignore the signs and end up having the opposite of their desired effect on someone.
Hold your horses!
Approaching someone and talking to them is a bold enough move, so don’t push your luck and ask that gorgeous stranger for their number, or worse, where they live. Even if they like the look of you, you’re still a total random so they’re unlikely to want to give out their deets. Instead, you can hint at a coincidental second meeting by letting them know where YOU will be – eg ‘I’m come here every Thursday and I’ve never seen it so busy’ or ‘I know this area as I work at the cinema at weekends’. It might just get them thinking.
We’ll meet again
If you do see them again, it’s vital to remember that even though you made the first move, you need to take precautions as well. Safeguard yourself by letting your friends know where you’re going to be and what time you expect to be back, meet in a busy place, and don’t arrange to meet at your house.