“The first rule of talking to anyone is: listen!” Larry King
A few times in my life I have left behind all I knew and moved to a new country requiring me to rebuild my social circle from scratch.
First when I was 17 I moved to the Canary Islands to work in a bar. A year later I went backpacking around Australia. When I was 22 I moved permanently to Indonesia, where my circle of friends would change often due to expats coming and going constantly, and in a few months time I’ll be moving again with my wife to The Philippines where I’ll begin all over again.
It’s safe to say that over the course of these events I’ve gotten pretty good at meeting new people, getting girlfriends (when I was still single) and making friends. I want to share the tips and methods I have learned with you now so that you can make better connections in your own social life.
Of course you don’t have to move somewhere new to utilize these tips. People are all around you all the time. All you have to do is connect.
The one thing holding you back from abundance in your social life.
The first thing you need to overcome with regards other people is shyness, which is built on fear.
I’ve found that 99 times out of 100 unless a person is a sociopath or a social retard, in which case I don’t want to talk to them anyway, people are happy to have a conversation with almost anyone as long as the setting is right.
You can’t just walk up to someone in a mall and say “Hey dude, you look like a really cool guy, lets talk over a coffee”. If you do that you’ll likely get your teeth rearranged and rightly so.
However, if you are in a class, sitting beside someone on a bus, sitting at the bar surrounded by other people who are also alone, or pretty much anywhere where it isn’t awkward and or stupid to approach someone and strike up a conversation, there is a chance to build a new connection, score a date and possibly even make a new friend.
The key to being cool is to understand the nature of transactional psychology. When you say something to someone, you are asking them to play a game called “socialization”.
The main rule of this game is to take turns and not either A) Say ten things for every one he/she says or B) Say one thing for every ten he/she says. In order to play the social game effectively you need to take turns, e.g. one answer and a follow-up question for every question they ask, and vice versa.
Things should flow naturally, you should always avoid awkward, potentially trouble starting and deep topics when you begin talking with someone – all of that comes in time. Don’t ever start a conversation by saying something like “Fuck dude, I really wish someone would just bomb Israel out of existence.” You don’t know anything about this person, for all you know they could be a Mossad agent and want to kill you as a result. You’re trying to figure out who this is and what they’re about, so keep it light.
On the first encounter with either a man or a woman, the key is to find some common ground and build rapport. Icebreaking conversations are pretty well rehearsed the world over – they can be about the weather, sport, a hot girl in the room (if you’re talking to a fellow dude just make sure it isn’t his wife) or anything mundane that starts the game to see if they want to play ball and have a conversation. Think of it like tennis. You serve and wait to see if the ball comes back to you.
After the ice is broken and their body language indicates they are friendly and want to talk, take the conversation where you want, but always keep it light and easy. Make people laugh and show you are trustworthy and not after something and don’t have ulterior motives. As long as you can establish that a connection shouldn’t be too hard.
With the above in mind you have no reason to feel fear or worry about social rejection. You should be good to chat with almost anyone.
Where to meet like-minded people.
The key to meeting people you are most likely to have a connection with is to find a common interest, so it makes sense to actually do something related to that interest with other people who are also doing that activity of their own volition.
If you’re a fitness freak you can join a martial arts class, a running club or anything along those lines. It can be difficult to meet people in the gym because most people are in the zone, so join a fitness related class instead.
If you’re a spiritual guy you could visit a monastery or a church and meet people who share your values in whatever town you happen to be in.
If you are a socialite who likes to party, look for expatriate bars where you’ll meet your fellow countrymen and women, and head for the pool table. This is a natural place to have a conversation as the game almost always starts with shaking hands and introductions, which means the ice is naturally broken.
The important thing here is to gravitate towards people you have a good chance of actually having something in common with or getting along with. If you’re a party animal who loves rock and roll, skip the Buddhist Vipasanna classes and head instead to a guitar class or try to form a band.
Lose the fear: Approach with no outcome in mind.
I have found that most fear surrounding approaching new people is because you worry the outcome of the interaction will not turn out how you want it to. An example of this would be the girl not giving you her number, or the business connection you want to make sussing out that you are after something and blowing you off.
The best way to overcome this is to stop caring altogether about the outcome of any interaction. Approach people for one reason only – to get to know them, have a friendly conversation without any motive, and see how it goes from there.
When you do things this way you will almost always have a good interaction with someone and things will rarely go south. People are social animals and you’ll find they want to meet new people and have new experiences just as much as you do – that’s what has caused the human race to exist for so long despite being so weak physically compared to other animals on this planet – we band together and form groups wherever we go because it is in our interest and nature to do so.
Most of the antisocial weirdos got shunned from their respective groups and eaten by lions long ago and most people who are alive today are at least reasonably social people. When you realize that you will lose a lot of the fear you may feel surrounding other people. People actually want to talk most of the time!
Bonus: The greatest tool man has ever known is at your fingertips.
We live in the era of the internet in which any piece of information you please is at your fingertips.
This has several advantages when it comes to meeting new people. You can research clubs or classes in the city you have moved to (taking local language classes is always a big hit as the people in them will likely be other out-of-towners like you and you will automatically have something in common) or you can find group activities which go on in cities all over the world for example hill walks or chess tournaments, depending on what your thing is.
You can also use social media to your advantage to reach out and connect with people. I’ve made several good friends online and in the past I met a few former casual flings through Facebook. If you feel there’s some sort of stigma attached to this that’s your problem and you need to get with the times.
The internet really is the greatest tool man has ever invented, and you can use it to enhance your social life and meet new people as much as do anything else online.
If you prefer more traditional ways of meeting people, go ahead, I just wanted to include this as a bonus.
Meeting new people is easy when you know how. For me by now it’s as easy as pie.
I can say for sure that it is also one of the single most important factors in success, happiness and creating opportunities. For example, I once added a girl on Facebook who was a friend of a friend because she had a cool tattoo and I wanted to ask her where she got it since I was looking for a good artist I could trust. We met up and she then introduced me to her husband who introduced me to his friend who became a close buddy of mine over time and helped me get my first job on the oil rigs through his connections.
That never would have happened if I hadn’t made that original, seemingly unimportant connection on Facebook. I did, however, and it led to lots of things I could never have imagined.
What’s the lesson in all of this? People are the key to everything you are looking for – business connections, friendship, adventure, great stories, opportunities, knowledge, information, a great sexual encounter and sometimes even love.
Keep that in mind when you next feel fear about meeting new people and are hesitant to reach out. It could be that one small connection that changes everything, or it could just be a fun conversation that goes nowhere and kills a little time.
Either way you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by striking up a conversation and connecting with others wherever you are.
Desire. Decide. Persist.