How To Talk To Strangers

Bored of the same old conversations with the same old people? Or are you a loner who is tired of being alone? Perhaps you’re just shy, and sick of it? Maybe it’s time to think of trying a new way of approaching life and the people that inhabit it.

Each day most of us pass approximately 100 people, depending on the size of the situation we’re living in. Of those 100 people, we know perhaps 3. That means 97 people are complete, virtually complete, strangers. That’s a lot of people that we do not know.

Ever think about their story? Ever wonder who they are, what they do, whether or not they’ve got the magic answer to the mysteries in your life? If so, you should talk with them.

What???? Talk to strangers? Are you nutz?

Well, that’s debateable.

But, the reality is 97% of the people you meet each day is a really large amount of people. I think it is in our best interests to meet at least some of the people we see. Why not?

So today I challenge you to reap the benefits you can get from talking with strangers. Of course, talking with strangers has some risks. There are the emotional risks of rejection, receiving haughty looks from people we don’t know, from being called or thought weird. These are big risks, but I don’t think they outweigh the benefits we get when we begin to talk with and meet new people.
  1. When you meet new people, you grow in interpersonal confidence.
  2. When you meet new people, you can have a chance to alter the course of your life.
  3. When you meet new people, you can relieve the boredom that fills the majority of our days.
  4. When you meet new people, you might just find an answer to your life.
  5. When you meet new people, you might just have one more person who’ll be at your funeral. (A lot of people at your funeral is a definition of success, is it not?)
  6. When you meet new people, you might have more people at your wedding, which means more presents. …this is good.
The benefits do outweigh the risks. So how do we talk to strangers?

Accept that you might be rejected. Let go of your ego. Realize that rejection is not death. It’s scary and it hurts, but in a city the size of Seoul, for example, being rejected by one person is akin to putting your finger in a bucket of water then pulling it out. There is no change, there is no difference. Rejection is not the end of the world. It’s part and parcel of living an interesting life. The cost of living life in a cool and alive way, rather than in a contentedly bored and safe way.

Just jump in.
Don’t hesitate. “Hi, I’m Michael.” This is a great way to start. If you don’t hesitate, you’ll find people will react in kind. Of course, there are certain places that are better for doing this than others. Coffee shops are good, bars are good. But a straight forward name give is only good in a few places. For places like museums or gyms, you might start by asking them their opinion about the art, or about how to do a certain exercise. Once started, just continue on. What the heck. It can be fun.

Yes, some people will be snotty and ignore you. So what! Do it anyway. Remember, it’s good for you. It’s making you stronger. And it’s better than sitting like a bump on a log wishing life were different. It’s proactive and therefore good.

Yes, talking to strangers can be deadly. We’ve all heard stories of people who’ve met strangers and been damaged. Well, this is a risk. But, reality is, most of the people in this world are not crazed psychos. What’s the real probability that you’ll be the lucky one to meet the psycho?

So of course, you’ll want to be smart. You may not want to give your phone number. You may not want to give your email. Be smart. If you meet someone and they give you the freaky willy icky feeling, stop talking. There’s not rule that once you start a conversation, you have to a) keep it going, or b) make the other feel good. Talking to strangers is for you, and it’s your game. You owe no one anything! So, if they ask you for your phone number, say, “No thank you.”

Make a habit of practicing on a stranger a day. What the hell? Why not. Every day for 21 days. One person per day. Go ahead, try it. It’s scary, but you can do it. It’s good exercise for your soul. And, 21 days is the standard time it takes to make a new habit and to get over the habitual pattern that we are trying to alter. Shyness is the thing we want to change, 21 days will set the ball rolling toward permanent change.

So, if you’re tired of life as it is, and you’re looking for something cool to do to spice up your days on earth, give talking to strangers a try. Use your intuition, and make reasonable choices about the people you try and talk to. Don’t try and strike up conversations with random people while standing at a crosswalk. Coffee shops, bars, museums, trains, buses….these are good places. Give it a try! You might just change your entire life!


  1. Excellent! I just ran into a student today who's name escapes me, as she was a girl I taught about 7 years ago...but the point is, she stepped up, said "Hi, Teacher" and we had a lovely little chat while waiting for the green light. Now, I wonder if she read your post...... ;-)

  2. Hi Michael! This is Wonchul. Accidentally(?) I found your blog. At the last week's trip to China, I hesitated to talk to local people and failed to do it. should have read it ㅠㅠ. like 21 day drill part especially. See u