How to Make Effortless Small Talk with Strangers

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We discuss the importance of talking to strangers. Specifically, we dive into the three types of strangers you'll encounter daily and how to engage with them. Learn how to make small talk with strangers anytime, anywhere.

In childhood, we're taught don't talk to strangers. Make sure that if a stranger comes up to you, you don't talk to them. These are things that we're told as children and they're real reasons for that. But as we get older and we're more aware of the world and we realize the importance of social interaction and building your social circle, and creating connectivity and that human connected feeling then we start to realize maybe there is a benefit to talking to strangers. So we're actually going to talk about why and how. So first, why it's important to talk to strangers, and how talking to strangers can help you become better at small talk and also become better at social interaction. If you're ready, let's get into it.

All right, so first of all, I can understand why somebody living in a city might not be doing these kinds of things that I'm about to share. Whereas someone in a, maybe a smaller town or maybe more countryside country living might be more inclined to do this. But let me give an example of two. So imagine you're walking on the street and you make eye contact with someone.

That's immediately establishing a social connection with them. You're creating a connection. You're saying, I acknowledge you as my fellow human being. Now, if you weren't to do that, if you were simply to walk past them without saying hello without looking them in the eyes without smiling, then that feels a little bit like a sting.

It feels like that person was not acknowledged. It feels like they don't exist. Now, of course, in a city with so many people everywhere, you're in crowds all the time. Quite frequently it might be untenable to stop every time you see another human and look up and smile . So there are practical reasons why that probably would not make that much sense.

But if you're in the park, even if you're in a city context, if you're in the park or if you're in a coffee shop and there are a few people around you and someone makes eye contact with you or gives you a smile, you might want to acknowledge that because if you don't,that makes someone feel like they don't exist, and we don't ever want to make someone feel that way, right?

You don't want to feel that way just as someone else doesn't want to feel that way. So I would highly encourage you to start being perceptive and attuned to that. And maybe, when the opportunity should arise, you would smile. You would say, Hello, how are you doing? Just some sort of acknowledgement because everyone wants to feel acknowledged.

Again, even if they're total and complete stranger. So that's the first thing. What about for the people, the strangers that you are routinely in touch with? Meaning the people at your garage, the people at your dry cleaning shop, the people at your coffee shop where you get your coffee. The place where you get your groceries, right?

These places that you often frequent. That you frequently frequent. So for these you want to make sure that you know the person by name so that you can address them, so that you can thank them, so that you can start to ask, how their day is going. You can give them maybe some encouragement if you see that they might be a little bit down and not as peppy as usual.

Again, these are strangers, for lack of a better word. However, they're frequent in your life, right? You don't necessarily go out to coffee with them and have a long chit chat with them. But they are people that you interact with on a routine or regular basis. So it would make sense to get to know them by name to, maybe say nice thing to them here and there, compliment them on a job well done, or give them some encouragement for their day, or ask about their children, or whatever it could be, where you're establishing some sort of connection and in the process of doing that you'll start to notice that you are making small talk. And again, I think a lot of the time people have this aversion to small talk. One, because it is social anxiety inducing for many people, meaning you feel uncomfortable doing it; you feel the butterflies in your stomach, the jitters and whatnot, the anxiety. But then there's also this component of, am I being authentic? Is this surface level is this silly nonsense that nobody wants to talk about. There's a way to do it where it is coming across as authentically as you'd like it to be.

Of course, you can stay surface level and just exchange some pleasantries and just some how do you dos doing well, But then of course you can take it a step further and instead of talking about the weather, you can talk about an article you read that you think they would really like or something about the way they make this coffee that you've never had it anywhere else. Starting to get a little bit deeper, not necessarily that's completely non surface level, but it will take you to a place where you'll start, creating real rapport with the person. So you want to be mindful of that.

So the people that you interact with on a routine basis, even though they might be strangers, you want to start cultivating that rapport with them.

So those are consequential strangers.

Meaning having those people in your life is of consequence to you. They are meaningful to you. They help you with whatever it is you need help with getting your coffee, getting your groceries, getting your dry cleaning, getting your car parked the way it should get parked, right in a safe way and sheltered and whatnot, and so on and so forth.

So these are called consequential strangers.

Showing someone kindness immediately, not only lifts them up, but it lifts the whole room up. It lifts the other people up in the room as well because someone's seeing you interact in such a kind way, such a respectful manner makes them feel good too. Even the people just on the periphery, even the bystanders.

So as you interact with the coffee shop barista in a kind way, the people behind you are be impressed by that. They're going to also feel that kindness from that, and they're going to pay it forward as well. They're going to be inclined to treat the people with the utmost kindness going forward. The people that they interact with going forward, they're going to feel that sense of compassion as well. That's just how it is with human nature, right? When we see a kind act, we want to do a kind act as well. If someone's performing some kindness, a kind act, we want to perform a kind act as well, so it compounds on itself and it's a beautiful thing.

Everyone treating each other with kindness. So these are other things to keep in mind as well, that your actions have real impact on people and not just the person that you're interacting with, but the people who are also experiencing that and witnessing that in that space for example.

The strangers that you have in your loose network. It could be neighbors, it could be colleagues, it could be people that you run into in your coffee shop that you frequent, but you don't really know by name or you might not necessarily know that much about them, or maybe you do know them by name, but the point is that they're acquaintances.

They're in your loose network. They're on the periphery in some ways. These are people that you also want to be able to interact with positively. They're strangers, but you want to make sure that you're able to acknowledge them, that you can have a discussion with them if it takes you there.

The big one here is with neighbors, you might spend years and years in a building. Never even know your neighbors or never meet them, or you might be living in a housing complex and you never interact with your neighbors. So I really encourage you to start putting yourself out there and getting to know your neighbors.

You never know when you would need a neighbor's helping hand. You might be missing some ingredient for a cake you're about to bake, but you don't have time to go to the store. A neighbor could help you out with that. Or you might need to get your plants watered when you're on vacation.

Or maybe your dog needs to be taken out, but you're in a meeting and you can't get out of your meeting. So there are real benefits to being friendly with your neighbors and even if you don't need anything from them or they don't need anything from you, it's still a very important thing to establish that human connection.

And if you spend so much time in a place but you never get to know them, then that's really on you because you had that opportunity to introduce yourself, to bring them a bunt cake or say, I'm here if you need anything, or whatever it is, something neighborly. Being able to do that is a great skill to have because again, you are fostering connection.

And then lastly, there might be people at work that you find are people that you don't really know that well, that they could be strangers. So getting to know them a little bit better, being more on top of maybe their lives, whatever they feel like sharing with you. If someone says to you, Oh yeah, my son's birthday is this weekend, we're going to be celebrating it by going to a baseball game.

Then the following Monday, you can ask, how was the game? How was the birthday party? Something as simple as that can really launch into a nice discussion. It can even launch into a friendship. So it's really just paying attention to these little things, the minor details that actually make up a big part of people's lives.

To you, it could be a little bit inconsequential. That person's son's birthday. Okay, that's nice, but to them that's their world, maybe even their whole world. So it's very important to recognize this, that even those small little details can actually lead to some momentous conversation or friendship.

And these people then, they start as strangers, and then they become acquaintances, and then they become friends, and then real friends, and then friends for life. Again, if our point here is to expand our social circles, to become more social, to have more friends, to decrease social anxiety and to be able to create that human connection and to be able to make small talk then it is important to know how to talk to strangers because they won't be strangers forever right.

All right. Thank you so much for joining me, Explearners. I'm going to see you in the next one. Definitely be subscribed. Follow us. Check out our website, go to and also if you are a second language learner of English, then you might want to check out Advanced English, our other website and channel and podcast.

So just go to and you'll get all the lessons and worksheets and the other materials as well. All right. Thank you for joining me. I will see you in the next one. Happy Explearning everyone.