Meeting New People

03.07.2024 |

Episode #8 of the course Mastering your relationships by John Robin


Welcome back to the course!

So far, we’ve explored relationships from closest to most distant. At last, we’ve arrived at the far extreme: people you don’t know at all. Is there anything to be said about this?

Let’s dive into the lesson to find out!


Getting to Know Strangers: The Simple Comment Technique

Every day, you are surrounded by people you don’t know. When you take a walk down the street, you’ll pass many houses where someone might see you from their yard or window, or you’ll pass people walking their dog or taking a walk like you are.

If you go to a coffee shop, think of all the people at each table. You’re all strangers to each other. The same might go at the gym, at the shopping mall, or any public event you might attend.

In the previous lessons, we explored how to take charge of your relationships working with what’s familiar. But opportunities abound beyond the familiar.

One good friend who I now see at least every two months, is one such example. My husband and I were at a social, surrounded by strangers. We were sitting awkwardly at a table, not sure what to do. We found one person we knew, and he was a real go-getter. He saw another person on their own at another table—in the same situation as us—and told us to move there. Just like that, we struck up a conversation, then we stayed in touch and found over the years we have a lot in common.

Meeting new people can be difficult if you aren’t a go-getter like our friend. Fortunately, there is one simple technique you can follow to see if the ice is meant to be broken with someone you’ve never met before.

I call this the simple comment technique.

The idea is straightforward: come up with a simple comment you can make. This comment will let you test the water safely. If someone else is interested in getting to know you, but they aren’t as confident as you—because they didn’t take this course!—then when you break the ice with a simple comment, you’ve now given them permission to strike up a conversation.

But, there’s also the chance the other person doesn’t want to know you at all. You’re always taking a risk if you try to connect with someone. So, a simple comment is a happy medium. At the worst, they will just completely ignore you.

This simple comment technique should be thought of as a short-term approach to a longer-term strategy. For example, I made an acquaintance at a coffee shop over a longer period of time. We usually sat near each other working on our writing projects for a while before, one day, I made a simple comment: “Are you a writer too?”

It didn’t lead too far at first, but after that comment, when we’d see each other, we’d make eye contact, smile, and occasionally make a remark relating to our projects. But after a few months, we once in a while got into longer conversations about the writing industry, and were eventually sharing tips.

To this day, this remains an acquaintance who I never got to know much beyond the coffee shop. But this added another social dimension to that location.

What’s important about this ties to the last lesson’s main concept: you are looking to embrace the numerous opportunities that abound by being open to the relationship interactions you can invest in—even with strangers.

Be it a new acquaintance, or possibly the start of a new best friendship, the simple comment technique can open the door to form new relationships in ways you wouldn’t expect.


Tip of the Day: Developing a Ready-To-Go Simple Comment List

What kind of simple comments can you make? Are you like me in that when the moment comes to shine, you might get all tongue-tied and just resort to silence?

To get around this, it helps to have a ready-to-go list. You can develop this over time.

I like to think of it in categories:

• Compliments

• Something we have in common

• Something situational

• Contrived situation

The first two are usually the most natural. If you notice something you like, offer a compliment. If there’s something you have in common—such as you’re both studying or reading—use that as a lead-in.

The other two categories you might not use as much, but they’re good to have ready. Is there something about your shared situation that can be mentioned? If it’s extra cold in the coffee shop, why not make a comment about that and see if you spark up some conversation? As for the contrived situation, is there some way you can pretend to need something you don’t really need? For example, what about sitting at the table next to a person you would like to connect with and asking if there is a plug for your computer?

Over time, pay attention to what works well and what doesn’t. You can expand your ready-to-go list and even add subcategories. For example:

• Compliments

• T-shirt

• Hair

• Something we have in common

• Book reading

• Computer

By the way, these aren’t pick-up lines, so don’t try too hard to come up with something great. The idea with the simple comment technique is to simply try and break the “don’t talk to strangers” taboo and break the ice in a way that’s most effective.

Stay tuned for our next lesson, where we’ll see how to go a bit further than the simple comment technique.


Recommended book

Relationships at Work: How to Authentically Network within Your Company by Rachel B. Simon


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