When was the last time you interacted with a stranger? Perhaps you were in a situation or an environment where you wanted to say something to someone, even if it’s just a friendly ’hello!’ but you were afraid of being ‘turned down’ or having the other person respond in a rude fashion? We’ve all ‘been there, done that,’ right??? But have you been in those situations and actually been the first person to say hello or engage in conversation with that person? What usually happens? Suddenly the ice is broken, they open up and you’re engaging in conversation like there was never any awkward tension. Or perhaps they didn’t and they shut you down pretty quickly. How did it feel? Considering that was your WORST case scenario it wasn’t quite as scary as you hyped it up to be, was it? (At least I’m hoping not!)
Having been in new environments quite a bit over the last couple of years I’ve certainly been in my fair share of similar situations. Most recently it’s been at the gym I workout at. To be fair, the gym is probably one of the most intimidating destinations out there and when I show up I definitely show up to workout but I’m also cognizant of the fact that it’s a great place to meet people and make friends! I’m sure a lot of people in there are thinking the same thing but it all comes down to who ‘makes the first move’ and breaks the ice.
Since starting back there in February I’ve had plenty of situations where I was intimidated by people in the studio or the friendships that already seemed to exist. Don’t get me wrong, most days I still am! But, I’ve made a concerted effort to open up, have an inviting face, smile and not to be afraid to interact with others, even if it means I’m struggling to catch my breath and my face is dripping with sweat at the time in which we interact. Which is traditionally the case if we’re being honest.
And you know what?! Every single time the other person has responded in a positive way, immediately opening up and engaging with me the remainder of the class as we struggle and sweat it out together. All they needed was a little friendly nudge. A confirmation that I in fact am a nice person! LOL!
Talking to strangers is no easy task, no matter how old you are! It’s very easy to create this narrative in our minds that the other person is going to think we’re weird for talking to them or won’t like us or will shut us down. Whatever negative response it might be. Just remember that it’s safe to assume everyone else is in the same boat and will probably appreciate you going out of your way to say hello or offer a friendly smile. Go ahead, break the ice! What’s the worst that could happen?!