Have you ever seen a really hot girl and wanted to talk to her, but couldn’t figure out what to say?
Or have you ever walked into a room full of strangers, and felt extremely uncomfortable?
Maybe even pulled out your phone and pretended to be texting, hoping someone would come up to you and save you from your awkwardness?
We all have.
When it comes to meeting new people, one of the biggest obstacles for most people is simply building up the courage to approach a stranger and start a conversation.
Last month I revealed in my monthly newsletter that I was taking on a new 30-day challenge, which was to talk to someone new every day. The idea was that this challenge, similar to the 30-day cold shower challenge would force me to get out of my comfort zone on a daily basis, and at the same time, allow me to make some new friends and connections while improving my social skills.
Unfortunately, I failed.
Out of the 30 days, I only managed to talk to someone new for 18 days. However, I don’t consider it a complete failure because in those 18 days I probably met more people than I had the entire semester. The days that I actually made an effort to meet someone new I usually ended up meeting at least 2 or 3 new people.
Going into this challenge I thought that it was going to be difficult because I thought there would be some days when I would have very few opportunities to meet someone new. But the truth is, there are always opportunities to meet new people.
The days that I didn’t talk to someone new weren’t because I didn’t have the opportunity to, they were simply because I didn’t make the effort. While it was easy for me to meet people at parties and in other social settings, I also met people in elevators, waiting in lines, and even at the library.
When Was the Last Time You Met Someone New?
Just think about how many opportunities you have every single day to meet someone new. Even if only briefly, chances are you see people constantly throughout your day.
Obviously, you don’t have to talk to every single person that you see, but the point is that if you were to see someone that you really wanted to meet, would you be able to walk up to them and start a conversation? Or would you be too self-conscious about what they might think or how they might respond to you?
I use to be terrified of approaching people I didn’t know. Especially girls. I would think of everything I could possibly say, I’d imagine every possible way the conversation could pan out, I’d practice saying it in my head multiple times, and then I’d end up not saying anything at all. Usually by that point it’d be too late. Another guy would start talking to her or I’d just convince myself that she probably wouldn’t be into me anyway.
But why is talking to a cute girl so difficult?
Just think for a second about the worst thing that could possibly happen, and then think about the best thing that could possibly happen.
You’ll never know what you missed out on unless you put yourself out there. – Tweet This
Worst case scenario, she’s not into you. If that happens, you’ve lost nothing. Learn what you can from it and move on.
Best case scenario, you meet a super cool, super cute girl that’s super into you. And it all started with a conversation.
The First Step is Overcoming Your Psychological Barriers
Aside from being able to talk to cute girls, being able to approach anyone and start a conversation, in any setting, might be one of the most valuable skills you can possibly have. After all, as I’m sure you’ve heard a million times, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
While technical skills are important, socials skills are arguably the most valuable skill of all, regardless of what career you choose to pursue. The truth is that talent alone isn’t enough, and if you don’t improve your social skills, you’ll never be able to put your best foot forward.
Whether you decide to do something about it or not, the fact remains: people with amazing social skills are more successful than those without.
So you can continue live your life comfortably in the comfort of your comfort zone (that’s a fun tongue twister), or you can overcome the barriers that are holding you back and actually make an effort to learn how to improve your social skills and meet more people.
Personally, my biggest barrier was overcoming my bias against socially adept people. It was a psychological barrier that prevented me from making an effort to improve my social skills. I didn’t want to become one of those “douchebags” and start changing the way I talk. I was stubborn and judgmental. Why should I have to change? People should like me for who I was.
But over the last few years I’ve realized that a big part of being social is less about you and more about others. It’s about exhibiting a genuine interest in others and being able to connect with them. In order to do that effectively, you need to understand some basic principles about social etiquette.
It amazes me that while social skills might be the most important skill you can have, we rarely look at it as a learnable skill that can be systematically improved.
The 3 Second Rule
When I started looking into the challenge of talking to someone new every day for 30 days, I read about something called the 3 second rule.
The 3 second rule happens to be the most powerful pickup tool a guy or girl could have and is often referred to in these terms, but it’s a great tool for meeting new people in any context. The rule requires that if you see someone you’re interested in talking to, you have 3 seconds to walk up to them and start a conversation. It’s very simple, but extremely effective.
The reason why it’s so effective is because if you wait any longer than 3 seconds, you’ll probably end up over-thinking it and never say anything at all. With only 3 seconds, you don’t have enough time to let anxiety get the best of you. If you see someone you want to talk to, you must immediately go over and talk to them.
Stop worrying about what to say. Anything is better than nothing.
Plus, you’d be surprised by how much people actually like being talked to. Think about the last time a stranger started a conversation with you, were you weirded out or were you pleasantly surprised? And if we go back to the anecdote of being in a room full of strangers, how do you feel when someone comes up to you and starts talking to you? You feel great, right? No one wants to be the person who’s standing alone.
To reframe the way you think about talking to strangers, realize that you’re actually doing them a favor by talking to them, because out of everyone in the room, you specifically chose to talk to them. If anything, they’ll be grateful that you chose to talk to them, not weirded out.
Two Lines You Can Use To Start a Conversation
Alright, so you’ve decided to implement the 3 second rule and approach someone you’ve been dying to meet. But what do you say? How do you introduce yourself?
Well, obviously there are lots of different ways you can start a conversation, and depending on the social situation one way might be more appropriate than the other, but here are 2 lines you can use that have worked out great for me. Test them out for yourself, make your own variations, and see what works best for you.
- A simple introduction followed by a question.
“Hi, my name is _____, what brings you here?”
A variation of this line is, “Hi, my name is _____, how do you know _____ (name of mutual friend or host)?”
This line usually works best in large social settings such as at parties or networking events.
- Make an observation or compliment.
“Whoa, those are awesome shoes. Where’d you get them?”
This line works great anywhere. People love compliments. However, be careful not to sound phony. Only compliment someone if you really mean it.
Notice that each of these lines starts the conversation with something shared in common—an event, a mutual friend, or a shared interest (i.e. awesome shoes).
Connecting with people is all about finding something that each person can relate to.
The next time you see someone you’ve been dying to meet, give yourself three seconds to walk up to them and start a conversation. Let me know how it goes in the comments below.
If you found the 3 second rule helpful and are looking for more ways to improve your social skills and meet new people, check out my article on 5 Ways to Improve Your Social Skills and Conquer Your Ego.
I also highly recommend checking out Ramit Sethi’s article “Instant Irresistability: The 7 Keys to Advanced Social Skills” and his 30-minute “Small Talk” Hacks video.
Image Source: Elite Wallpapers