If you’re like me (and most people in the civilized world), you were told as a child to never talk to strangers!
Parents usually told us this with every intention to keep us safe as children.
Only one problem with that philosophy: That sticks with some of us more than with others.
Some of us use that as a fall-back crutch to excuse not recruiting or prospecting offline in network marketing, not meeting the right people, spouse, or business partners, or simply just not succeeding at life in general.
In this 3rd post in my “Conversation” series, I want to address this and get you past it as quickly and easily as possible.
To get to the heart of where this fear and hesitation of talking to strangers really started, you have to think back to your own childhood and the environment you grew up in.
I say this because counselors will tell you the same thing.
“You don’t necessarily need counseling. What you more-than-likely need to do is start where it began and work forward.”
I remember when I was in the 1st Grade in the late 1970’s. We were shown an old film called “Red Light, Green Light”
Basically, this film would show you different people looking at you and either smiling or frowning and trying to talk to you – all from a first-person point of view.
It would preface it with “Your Mother” or “A man in the grocery store parking lot you don’t know” (or some other indicating statement as to who they were).
The point of the film was to have we children saying,”Red Light” if we met someone we didn’t know and “Green Light” if we met someone we DID know.
Now, this was all fine and good for us when we were younger. It helped us stay safe and it helped to keep us safe.
It was NOT so good when we got older.
On top of us hearing our parents saying,”Don’t talk to strangers!,” we also recited these “Red Light”/”Green Light” thoughts for months and years afterward.
I tell you that story because I have been introverted all of my life and as a result, I had even MORE of an obstacle as a result of that short film in overcoming that fear when trying to strike up conversations with people as I got older.
Again, it was good for us at the time (just not for us as adults).
Think back to when you were younger and try to remember where this fear began for you. I’d be willing to bet you can peg it.
Because to get better at offline recruiting and talking to people we don’t know, we have to “reframe” the way we look at other people.
If you really think about it, the word “strangers” is a funny word. All people are human beings, having a lot of the same experiences in life.
Everyone eats and breathes and most people talk.
So to reframe your thinking, think of “strangers” only as people you haven’t yet gotten to know.
Think of them like potential friends!
If you really give this some thought you’ll see that other than your immediate family members, anyone you’ve ever known was at some point by definition a “stranger” to you.
“The biggest reason you want to learn the skill of talking to people you don’t know (if it’s an obstacle for you or an underlying fear you have), is that this one skill will expand your entire life.”
Learning how to initiate conversations with other people will make you more comfortable and relaxed in business and social engagements, and overall you’ll have better experiences and advance your personal success much faster.
On top of that, an average boring day or daily routine can quickly become much more exciting when you’re engaging with someone new!
The fastest way to “make the world your oyster” is to get good at meeting and conversing with new people.
Like me and most other people, whether you’ve thought about it or not, you probably already speak to more strangers on a daily basis than you realize.
What you probably haven’t considered is the one key to success with ANYONE you meet for the first time: You have a connection with them or a reason to talk to them that’s not awkward or “weird” – something you can both talk about without thinking much about it.
Those are all examples of using “the key” to overcoming that fear of talking to strangers…You have something in common.
I’ve read quite a few books on human interaction and social-relational skills, and they all drive to this same one conclusion.
Find something (not something weird, just a normal subject) that you and the other person or people have in common, and use that as your common ground for starting a conversation.
It really is that simple.
Once you get good at finding that “common ground” subject between you and the other person or people, you will almost be able to master striking up conversations.
And “never talk to strangers” will become “ALWAYS talk to strangers”
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Clint is a consultant, blogger and online marketer that lives in Texas with his family.