Get my 5-day email funnel that generated $400,000 from a single launch

Want an email sales funnel that's already proven to work? Get the entire word-for-word email funnel that generated $400,000 from a single launch and apply it to your own business.

Yes! Send me the funnel now
Start Here: “The Ultimate Guide to Asking for a Raise and Negotiate Your Salary”

I deleted a 2,000 word mega-post to write this instead

1,067 Comments- Get free updates of new posts here

3

This week has been very theoretical and high-level — on PURPOSE.

See, most people who write online have audiences with the intelligence of a snail. As a result of the misguided belief that they have to appeal to everyone, they spend their time writing Top 10 lists to get SEO traffic. I avoid this because (1) I don’t understand SEO at all and (2) I simply kick off stupid people from my list and leave the cream of the crop as subscribers.

The truth is, I can afford to spend time investing in deeper areas like intellectual frameworks, psychological techniques, and deep case studies to help you lead a rich life.

I’d rather take a long-term perspective instead of pandering with cheap Top 10 lists.

HOWEVER…

There’s one problem.

Sometimes, people take the high-level material, feel good for a couple days…and then NEVER DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT.

I don’t want those readers. If you haven’t taken action from my material and you’ve been reading for over 3 months, let’s not waste each other’s time.

Why would I do this? What kind of business person ASKS his readers to leave?

I do — because I’d rather have a core group of people who are invested in taking action than a large group of people who use this material as intellectual entertainment.

For example, after writing a massive post on this year being the year of taking control, I got this comment:

How much dairy were you eating beforehand? I eat minimal dairy (as in…maybe 2 tablespoons of cream cheese each week) like your example friend, so I’ve only briefly considered that cutting it out entirely would make a difference. Do you think going from minimal to none can have a large impact on weight/health?

 -A

ARE YOU SHITTING ME? After reading nonsensical comments like this, I had to reconsider whether I wanted to be alive or not.

This question is (1) totally off-topic and (2) actually betrays a lack of understanding of how top performers act. The correct answer is: TEST IT!

Other writers will give you Top 5 Ways to Digest Your Food. I will kick you in the face and show you how to test it.

For example, here are a few things I’ve tested in the last 12 months

  • How to take naps as short as 15 minutes (took me 6 months to do this)
  • What to eat before the gym to lift heavier (carbs, duh)
  • What to wear to get different reactions (try bowties)
  • Hilarious text messages to guys/girls (you wish)
  • How to write party invitations that get massive RSVPs

Or…I could have gone and randomly asked someone, Hey, do you think this would work?

THE ANSWER COMES FROM THE TEST. And that’s what I’m going to show you today.

I actually had a 2,000-word monster post with all-new frameworks on changing your behavior READY to post today…but enough is enough.

Instead of another framework, we’re going to APPLY the mindset shifts we’ve already created in 2013.

Oh, you want to learn how to get a better job where your boss actually recognizes that you bust your ass? One where you get paid what you deserve?

Ok, I can help with that.

You want to know how people just like you were stagnant and made subtle changes to earn more, travel, and even become more socially fluent?

Yeah, I’ll show you how to do that.

You want to know the exact words to say to someone you don’t know to build rapport?

Yep — I’ve got those for you at the end of this email.

Starting today, every post and email I write this month will end with a very specific action I want you to take.

If you’re not committed to following through, please leave.

But if you ARE ready to follow through…if you are ready to trust that I’ve tested and refined my material enough that it works, then I invite you to follow my system and come along. That’s how I get results for my students — the results I want to get for you in the next month.

These students put aside their barriers and said, “You know what? My approach clearly isn’t working, so I’m going to trust this weird, cocky Indian dude.” When they trusted my systems, you can see remarkable results my students got.

I want you to be on that list THIS year.

Ask yourself this: If you keep doing the same thing, what will life look like 10 years from now?

Will you be earning the kind of money that lets you live the lifestyle you want?

Will you be able to take a weekend trip whenever you WANT to?

Will you be able to buy a round for your friends without worrying how much it costs?

Will you be living up to your potential?

Or will you wonder what could have been…comparing yourself to your friends…and changing your tune to, “I should have done that…but now it’s too late…”

My goal is to be the angel in your inbox looking out for you — sometimes pushing you even harder than you think you can push yourself.

That’s why I want you to take one, simple action step this weekend.

I’ll start by telling you that I’ve always admired people who could talk to anyone: the checkout lady at the grocery store, a random Fedex guy, a person walking their dog.

Guys, I’m not naturally like that!! I didn’t even know how to talk to my doorman (since I don’t talk about sports, what am I supposed to say?). Truthfully, I was such a nerd that I even bought a book on how to talk to anyone. What! We all need some help.

But over time, I came to learn how to talk to people at cocktail parties…at coffee shops…or random people at the store. Now I use it to banter on national TV, live on-air in front of millions of people, as I did earlier this week.

And that’s exactly what we’re going to cover — the psychological and tactical ways to improve our social skills.

Here’s your first assignment: Start a conversation with 1 person you’ve never met, and leave a comment below reporting on how it went.

This could be at the bar, a coffee shop, the grocery store, wherever. It can be a guy or girl.

If this terrifies you, don’t worry. Here are 5 easy, proven lines you can use to start up conversations with anyone:

1. “What kind of dog is that?”
Easiest conversation on earth to strike up. Pet lovers are so deprived of normal human contact that all they want to do is talk about their pets to anybody who will listen.

2. “I was actually curious about [book in their hand, gadget, whatever they’re working on]. How is it?
Note: Don’t do this with someone’s physics homework.

3. “Is that a good book?”
Btw, if you find someone reading MY book, you have definitely found the man/woman of your dreams.

4. “I think it’s funny watching people before they get their coffee…look how miserable they look.”
This is hilarious because it’s the elephant in the room.

5. “Is it a busy day? It looks pretty [busy/quiet].”
Easy to say to a mailman/waitress/hostess.

Are these canned lines? YES! Attention weirdos: SCRIPTS WORK. First, you use them and get comfortable. Then, you become so confident, you don’t need them any more.

Listen closely: Top performers have their social skills nailed. They don’t sit and do Excel all day and expect the boss to recognize them for their brilliance. They know how to talk to their co-workers…build alliances…and even ENJOY meeting new people.

You don’t have to become a talk-show host to become better at social skills. Even a few days of practice will dramatically improve your skills. (For example, I was pretty good when I went on book tour…and then I went through media training. It took me to another level.)

I can teach you the social skills that I painfully learned — the lessons are included in my Dream Job course (opening soon), and I have actual video teardowns for you next week — but you have to be willing to take action, to test skills/behaviors on yourself.

If you want to take control of your life, land your Dream Job, and get paid what you deserve, I can teach you HOW. But you have to be willing to TAKE ACTION.

It’s OK to bomb on this assignment. In fact, due to some of the dorks who read my site, I’m expecting some hilarious stories. But it is NOT OK to do nothing.

This is your first test.

Let’s separate the whiners from the do-ers.

Start 1 conversation with a stranger and tell me how it went in the comments below.


By the way, I’m continuing to send send special material to people on my newsletter that you will never see here. Join 160,000+ other people on my Insider’s List here — free.

3

Related Articles

standard post picture

How to not hate live events

I recently spoke at a conference in the Bay Area where the speaker introduced me as saying, “AND WE GOT ...

Read More
untitled-design-9

The diffusion of responsibility: Why you need to stop CC’ing people

I receive 1,000+ emails every day. And while I read every one of them, most emails get ignored. That’...

Read More

1067 Comments

3
 

Leave a Reply

1067 Comments on "I deleted a 2,000 word mega-post to write this instead"

Notify of
avatar

Sort by:   newest | oldest
Micah
Micah
3 years 8 months ago
I dragged my ass to a Github meetup last night where I struck up several conversations with fellow programmers. Although, I can’t say I was always the one to instigate the conversations but finding common ground in the fact that we were all in the same field helped make things a bit easier to find common ground. With one person, we found a common background where we came from. With another, it was talking about his business. I’m pretty awkward at social events when I go alone so when there are already groups of people at tables, it becomes a… Read more »
Aaron
3 years 8 months ago

I feel your pain – I’ve had my share of awkwardness at programmer get-togethers (and I expect plenty more in the future).

You mention that you went to a Github meetup; may I ask how you found out about this meetup? My own networking/socializing attempts have been largely Meetup-driven, and any Github meetup would fit right in with the rest of my Meetup schedule.

Tom
Tom
3 years 8 months ago

At a bar I noticed a guy and his girlfriend spending quite a bit of time on a Chromebook. I went over to their table and said, “Hey is that the new Chromebook by Samsung?” I told him that I’d been thinking about buying one, so he showed me a number of features and even let me play around with it for a minute. He was a very nice guy, his girlfriend was nice too, and I got some valuable information about a purchase I’ve been considering.

Cathy0
Cathy0
3 years 8 months ago

Way to go with the specifics on how to start a conversation. Some people might not have noticed that 4/5 of them are questions. And they are questions about the OTHER PERSON. Quick tip – people love to talk about themselves. Easiest way to start a conversation is to ask a question about the other person. Then LISTEN to the response, and ask another question.

Bea
3 years 8 months ago
What I used : “Is that a good book?” Where I did this : Bookstore (I’m a writer, and I wanted a familiar place. Scared a bit, I guess, I don’t do tests like these often.) The stranger was looking at a copy of Danielle Steele’s 44 Charles Street. I asked her if it was a good book (the question). She said “it probably is” and I asked her why, and she said that she had other Steele books. Then I just nodded and the conversation kinda ended there for a moment, until she asked me if I was considering… Read more »
Ross O'Lochlainn
Ross O'Lochlainn
3 years 8 months ago

Let’s not lose focus… you also got the lady’s number 😉

AJ
AJ
3 years 8 months ago
Waiting in line for tickets to the movies, I struck up a conversation with the kid in front of me. I overheard him mention “Lawrence of Arabia”, something I haven’t seen. Normally I just stick to the group I’m with, paying little attention to anyone else (primarily because we usually have really good conversations within our group). Adding to it, this kid was half my age, big bushy beard, wearing all black…just out of the ‘norm’ so to speak. I’m definitely not one to pre-judge, hoping that most don’t pre-judge me. But I recognize that there are certain appearances that… Read more »
Malia
Malia
3 years 8 months ago

This is probably the best one I’ve read. Kudos to you bro. New book, date scheduled, AND you met Ramit’s challenge.

JBB
JBB
3 years 8 months ago
Question: Knowing your views on pets, how do you use the first line above without vomiting all over their prize poodle? My father talks to anyone, anywhere, and has made startlingly good business contacts on the upper deck of a tour bus in Scotland. I kind of hate talking to people, often wind up in uncomfortable silences during conversations, until reading your stuff. I was waiting in line for breakfast at a food truck, and noticed someone else walk up wearing an ID for my company. I walked over and started with “So, you work for ? I noticed your… Read more »
Orrin @rebreezer
3 years 8 months ago
But testing things myself takes so much effort!.. I kid, I kid. I’ve spent the last few years moving around different cities, so meeting new people is absolutely essential… My favourite recent example was a couple of weeks ago when I was at a bar in Montpellier. I struck up a conversation with a guy near me. He was just having a quiet beer by himself after work and was really happy to have a chat. While chatting, I mentioned a band I love, Calexico, was touring through town soon and doing a gig at the Rockstore, the big club… Read more »
Chuck
Chuck
3 years 8 months ago
I attended a hispanic chamber of commerce mixer last night. My goal was to add to a professional network I started last month. I knew no one there, but within two hours had introduced myself and my new business to about a dozen people. In a couple of cases, where I heard a person speaking Spanish, I used my decades-ago high school Spanish language skills to start a conversation. That worked pretty well. At the end of the mixer, I ran into one of the presenters, and in the course a 10-minute conversation, we found we had a number of… Read more »
JB
JB
3 years 8 months ago

Getting comfortable talking to people about themselves and asking good questions is the foundation of networking. Interesting people ask interesting questions.

Alicia
Alicia
3 years 8 months ago
Engaged our waiter in conversation last night at Applebee’s – conversation beyond the usual ordertaking. Discovered he is a teacher during the day and works as a waiter at night to pay for his kid’s medical bills (cerebral palsy). Despite the intense work schedule he has, and the fact that he has two other kids, he was very centered and felt very blessed to have a life that he did. I left the conversation feeling grateful and perhaps a little guilty about this gentleman’s poignant situation – a little karmic reminder that I have nothing to worry about in my… Read more »
miriam
3 years 8 months ago

What a nice comment and experience. You have reminded me to really continue to respect others AND ask about them in unexpected situations. I would bet your waiter appreciated you wanting to hear about his life too.

Steve
Steve
3 years 8 months ago

Gratitude is a powerful emotion. It’s very uplifting. Do a search for “gratitude” or “gratitude journal” and see how you feel after reading a few results. It’s lifechanging.

Lauren
Lauren
3 years 8 months ago

I do this in line at stores if someone is wearing a product I’m thinking about buying…I ask them how they like it and if they would purchase it again.

miriam
3 years 8 months ago
I walked by my neighbors house, whom I have never met, and he was out in the yard (we are new in this tiny neighborhood). I waved, walked over and introduced myself. Chatted about our dogs, the weather and I expressed condolences for the horrific murder of his daughter and grandchildren by the husband. I had been avoiding even saying hi because I felt awful for what they had to face right before the holidays, but I accepted your challenge to go outside my comfort level. And I had utmost respect and compassion for his (my neighbors) boundaries in even… Read more »
KC
KC
3 years 8 months ago
A note on talking to people who are traumatised by horrific events – just mention it. I was talking to a lady the other day whose husband fixed a bomb under her car and she was chatting for ages. Seems she knows a lot about humvees and why she would never buy any other car. Her dog looked like a rat so avoided bringing pets into the conversation – note to self – learn how to spell Chihuahua. She showed me how she fixed a mirror to the bottom of a mop handle so she could check the underside of… Read more »
Iliana
Iliana
3 years 8 months ago
Good Morning Ramit, This first assignment is easy for me. I am one of those people that can talk to anyone; in fact I love to meet new people and win them over. I am always playing the game of looking people in the eye smiling until they smile. I am the ultimate Wooer 🙂 At lunch yesterday all the outdoor tables were taken. there was one table with 2 men and I walked up and asked if I could sit with them. They looked at each other and agreed. They both worked at the local Scott Trade office and… Read more »
Edith
Edith
3 years 8 months ago

Read this right AFTER having a conversation with an employee in the lunchroom at the company I am temping for. (Starting conversations is not a problem for me, anymore).

I genuinely care about people, and am interested in what they have to say!

Susan
Susan
3 years 8 months ago

I dropped my car at the local repair shop for an oil change this morning. I asked a new (to me) employee what the coolest car was he’d ever worked on. I learned a lot about muscle cars and about Jim’s ambitions. Not sure how I’ll apply the knowledge, but did learn that the scariest part was psyching myself up to ask the question. Once asked, my jitters dissolved. Amazing!

Joe Cassandra
3 years 8 months ago
Every waiter is different and I love hearing about what they do outside of work: some work 2 jobs, some a struggling artist, others working through school. It’s great to hear it. I always tip more to the one’s who are willing to have a conversation. Just last night, my wife and I w/ another couple, chatted with the waiter just starting with “What do you recommend?”, and that usually starts a conversation. Also, when we make fun of other restaurants with the waiter there, they usually appreciate that. The ongoing joke with the waiter we had last night was… Read more »
Nahna
Nahna
3 years 8 months ago

“Whenever I’m in a one-on-one that’s going nowhere, I usually ask what “plans” they have or try and dig out a problem they are having and ask about that. B/c everyone likes to talk about their problems, just usually no one wants to listen….”
This is GOLD, Joe, thanks for sharing.

Joe Cassandra
3 years 8 months ago

Thanks Nahna, you usually don’t want to ask “what do you do?” bc most people hate what they do, ask about what they would “like” to do, usually more interesting and less depressing

Anjali
Anjali
3 years 8 months ago

Talking to people has never been an issue for me, but what I do have issues with is talking to someone when I need to network. So I reached out to a few people today and set up meetings. Will report back as to how they went face to face, but even setting them up was a challenge.

CL
CL
3 years 8 months ago

I struck up a conversation with my next door neighbor while he was hanging out outside to fix his bike. I’m not naturally awkward and I strike up conversations all the time with random people, but he was awkward.

Jane D, CZT
3 years 8 months ago

Great post (though I’m still curious about the jettisoned one…). I got better at this in kind of a weird way. At one of the lowest points of my life I basically didn’t care anymore what people thought of me. Thus the bar was so low I started speaking to strangers, something I almost never did before. I know I wasn’t cheery, but I was sincerely interested and then fascinated to see the transformation in someone if you hit upon “their” topic–it really is an almost visible illumination. And *I* almost always felt better after these interactions.

Timothy
Timothy
3 years 8 months ago
I don’t struggle in starting a conversation either, but I often forget or lie to myself that I’m too busy to do so! We had a new chap in the office about two weeks ago with whom I hadn’t initiated, so I decided to give him a kind welcome to the company. We really hit it off, I was able to listen about some of his stresses moving to Columbus. When I dropped the line that I used to live in China and speak Mandarin he was very intrigued and asked that we get lunch soon so he can hear… Read more »
Amber
Amber
3 years 8 months ago

In the locker room at my gym I noticed an older woman putting on a gorgeous necklace. I commented on the beauty of her necklace. She told me that her “nail lady” gave it to her. Turns out the nail lady is from Vietnam and because my conversation partner had been such a good customer, she brought her back the necklace after a trip to visit family.
Bottom line, we’re both post-workout, wet hair, getting ready for work in a crowded gym locker room and I learned a bunch about customer service. Was a pretty cool experience!

Michelle
Michelle
3 years 8 months ago
I just had to say thank you for showing me that I’m not quite as crazy as my family says I am :o) and that I’m not the only one who tells people to use this exercise. I have been an extreme introvert all my life but decided some years ago that I had to come out of my shell if I was ever going to learn how to deal with people. To start the process I would strike up a simple 1-2 minute conversation with someone around me every time I was standing in line somewhere. Was it hard?… Read more »
Jason
Jason
3 years 8 months ago
This one was rather embarrassing to begin with. In line for coffee this morning at Starbucks, the guy in front of me reached for the last bottle of water just as I did. I told him to go for it and that I could get one from the machine in my office. He said thanks very much and I commented that they likely ran out as everyone is committed to being healthy for the first couple of weeks of January so the hydration crowd bought out all the water. After a chuckle and a couple of comments on the weather… Read more »
Carolyn
Carolyn
3 years 8 months ago

I striked up a conversation with my regular FedEx delivery man yesterday. I have known him for months but that was the first time I had actually heard his voice in a conversation other than “sign here” or generic salutations. I was actually taken aback by his conversation voice, I had never heard it before and it was quite different from what I expected it to be, he lit up and spoke with passion. I will definitely do this more often, living in NYC means I have 1001 opportunities to do this every day. Intriguing!

Danielle
Danielle
3 years 8 months ago

I am attending a networking lunch with a group called Women Make a Difference. First ever. And I’m scared spitless – I truly hate to meet new people. But if I go to one lunch, then I’ll be able to go to another and then another, slowing growing my network. Today’s lunch may not net me any increase in my freelance work, but if I meet one person whose life I can improve in some small way then it is well worth it. I’ll post again after the lunch with results.
D

Danielle
Danielle
3 years 8 months ago
Follow-up to my early comment. After attending my first ever networking event. I can sum it up in one word – WOW! Yes, I have some business cards I will never look at again, and a few that I think have some possibilities. I made several real connections – one with a professional organizer, I actually scheduled a consultation (yes, there is a fee) – the second with someone who offered to chat about a potential business opportunity – I am exploring the information, trying the product, and really digging deep to see if this is something I could sell… Read more »
Andrew Moretti
3 years 8 months ago
I’m not unsubscribing! I just bought IWTYTBR a few days ago and I’ve almost finished it already! Also, I’ve already struck up conversations with strangers this year, most memorably, I just got hired at the Apple Store and I start at the end of the month. Instead of waiting around, I decided to go into the store and start meeting some of my future co-workers ahead of time. There’s over 100 people working in this tiny store, so it’s going to take me long enough to get to know them as it is! It’s really not that hard if you… Read more »
Lars T.
Lars T.
3 years 8 months ago
Right on.. great initiative. Not too many people would do that. Years ago I was hired as a substitute teacher at a regional private school system. I was supposed to wait until they called me. After one day of waiting around, I just called all the campuses to introduce myself to the principal. They were glad to hear from me and I had a gig the next day. What was funny is, yes, I wanted an assignment, and once I got it I was terrified! But after two minutes in front of the fourth graders, it was all good. Way… Read more »
Rima
Rima
3 years 8 months ago

In one of those silent moments in the lift I decided to strike up a conversation with someone who worked in my building. I said “this week feels longer than usual!” He laughed saying “totally, I am so looking forward to the weekend”. I asked ‘What did you do for the holidays?”, he said “Spent time with the family in Oxfordshire” and he asked me the same question. The elevator ride felt less awkward and I met someone new! I can do this everyday! Thanks Ramit.

Courtney
Courtney
3 years 8 months ago
I struck up a conversation with a coworker in another department about hard drive encryption. This wasn’t super hard for me because I worked in retail for 10yrs and have long since overcome my natural tendency to be the quiet introvert. I too read books on learning to communicate with people. You’re right in that practice is the most effective way to communicate better. As a pet owner, I must dispute your statement about pet owners being deprived of human contact. Of course I’ll talk about my pets if someone asks, but I’ll gladly talk about things not related to… Read more »
Nikki B
Nikki B
3 years 8 months ago

I asked a new neighbor something as simple as, ‘how was your day?’ His response was a lot longer then the elevator ride was haha but now there isn’t an awkward silence when we are in the elevator anymore.

Jenn
Jenn
3 years 8 months ago

Great suggesion Ramit! I do this everyday in the elevator when I arrive at work while I’m in the elevator. I could be talking about any random, it’s less about WHAT than just getting started. It could be the weather, my ridiculous cycling outfit, their shoes, what they are holding in their hands – it always leads to a great feeling – a smile, a chuckle, sometimes it leads to interesting conversations and connections in the business.

Charles
Charles
3 years 8 months ago
Thanks for this post this morning. I hope the inspiration to get off the sidelines sticks! I’m really good about stricking up random conversations. From the coffee shop people to people in the gym. I asked one lady about a headset she was using that was directly attached to an ipod shuffle. I bought one shortly thereafter, and it’s a great conversation starter. I asked a guy about some drops he ingested just before his workout. It turns out they were creatine supplements in a non-shake form. What I’m lousy at is conversion. My sunday gym routine was to take… Read more »
Julia
Julia
3 years 8 months ago

Easy target: moms with babies. I was waiting for the bus behind a woman who had her cute 1-year-old in one of those front-backpack things. I “broke the ice” with: “I would love to be carried around in one of those things all day.”

Elizabeth Chen
Elizabeth Chen
3 years 8 months ago

Ha, people use my baby to start conversations with me all the time as well! I’m Caucasian and my husband is Chinese, and we live in a Chinese community (in a suburb of Los Angeles). You wouldn’t believe how many Chinese people come up to me out of sheer curiosity about my “Asian-looking baby”, ha ha! XP

Lupo
Lupo
3 years 8 months ago

I enjoy starting conversations with different people on a regular basis because 1) practice makes it easier moving forward 2) sometimes your instant assumption about how it’ll go is blown out of the water 3) it’s fun, especially when you see that you just made *that* person’s day by making a connection … no matter how trivial you think it may be.

Jess H.
Jess H.
3 years 8 months ago
This is an easy one for me, but I don’t want to pick and choose my Ramit challenges – that’s just creating a built-in excuse for me to avoid the ones that will actually be hard. To the woman I shared an elevator with: “Coming in late on Fridays is great, isn’t it?” When she seemed receptive, I followed up with, “Is this just a Friday thing for you, or do you have a flexible schedule every day?” Turns out she works in the office directly above mine, and she makes her own hours when classes aren’t in session. We… Read more »
Mari
Mari
3 years 8 months ago
I was walking the dog and a cocker spaniel came running up to me. I chatted with the lady and founded out her dog’s name Bella, she’s six, her niece used to breed cocker spaniels but after twenty years retired from the industry. The day before that, I had a twenty minute (I know it’s long, but sometimes you have to be spontaneous for crying out loud, can’t always sched every damn minute) conversation. Turns out she went down during Katrina to rescue animals and was hospitalized for nervous exhaustion afterwards. Her partner’s a vet and they have nine cats… Read more »
Razwana
3 years 8 months ago
I don’t struggle to speak to people that I’m interacting with (like at the checkout in the supermarket) but sometimes it’s not so great being in a public space with nothing to say. You know that silence in the lift (or the ‘elevator’ in American) when nobody knows what to say? Today, whereas usually I would just stand in silence with people I don’t know, I said to 5 of my colleagues ‘the inevitable silence in the lift – who is going to speak first?’ This got a chuckle from them and when I saw two of them later on… Read more »
Dave
Dave
3 years 8 months ago
I struck up a conversation with a woman who works on the same floor of the office building as me, but who is in a different department and so I never see her other than in the break room. I’ve never talked to her before. I made a joke about how the microwaves smell like a horrible combination of the smelliest foods from every culture on the planet, and she had a good laugh–before then unleashing upon me a long rant about how microwaves are unhealthy and, more importantly, unholy (yes, she used that word) due to their “manipulating waves… Read more »
TM
TM
3 years 8 months ago
Dear Ramit, 2012 was the year of lots of conversations with random strangers of whom I had personal, intimate knowledge. Odd? In a sense. After spending 14 years in one career, I followed my passion and went back to school full time to be a nurse. I’m nearly 20 years older than the youngest students, but my age and experience give me lots of added benefits – like being able to start conversations with random strangers. The people I had intimate knowlege of were my hospital patients. People I had never met but whose physical, family, and medical histories were… Read more »
heather
heather
3 years 8 months ago
I find it pretty easy to chat with people; last night on my way home I chatted with the clerk at the drugstore, the red nosed guy with Buckley’s in line behind me, 2 techie guys in the elevator. It makes for a friendlier world. People are just as nervous to strike up a conversation with me (as I once was) with them. Knowing that makes it easy to break the ice. Thanks for the great exercise, the scripts and I am looking forward to tomorrows exercise. Thanks for the kick in the butt; I am way more comfortable sitting… Read more »
Dana
Dana
3 years 8 months ago
I am what my friends refer to as the social “hook.” They send me out into the bar/restaurant/crowded room scene knowing full well that I could strike up a conversation with a brick wall, and I am the maker of new friends. Concerts, doctors office, it doesn’t matter the locale. I am famous for making friends in elevators and on the sidewalk and very little scares me socially. I have too many amazing friends and stories that I wouldn’t otherwise have if that was not my role in the group. When I got this assignment in my inbox I was… Read more »
Zach h.
Zach h.
3 years 8 months ago

I am also this type of person and was thrilled when the first challenge was something I already do. I attempted to do something courageous and outside my comfort zone. I tested an invisible script that I realized I have a few weeks ago and asked someone I respect and admire a few questions. We will see how this goes!

Vicki
Vicki
3 years 8 months ago

I work in a public library, so I’m starting up conversations with patrons all the time. When I first started working there, it was awkward, since I’d spent so many years working alone in a cubicle, I was very out of practice just walking up to people and talking to them. I now feel much more comfortable saying hello to people. Outside of work, I probably don’t do this as much as I should. I’ll commit myself to doing this once a week this year, in other contexts besides work, just to see what happens.

Steve
Steve
3 years 8 months ago

I followed a sales lead from our company website, and connected with a potential customer in Windsor, Ontario – I am based in Boston.

Gill bowden
3 years 8 months ago

I LOVE talking to random people. Most people are fabulous and you learn a lot by doing it too. But I made sure I spoke to 3 new people today and they were all lovely

Terence
Terence
3 years 8 months ago

Same here, my profession as a filmmaker puts me in the position of speaking to new folks on a regular basis. Be it someone I see in passing on the road, in a shop, at a station, or at a casting. Even more so when directing documentary films. Getting comfortable with breaking the ice and having a meaningful conversation is important. Great exercise.

Cherleen @ My Personal Finance Journey

Starting a conversation is quite difficult for me. This is a challenge for me but I will try to use your suggestions as well as the comments posted. Thanks for all your suggestions!

Ian Mackay
3 years 8 months ago
Hi Cherleen, I can truly sympathise with you. I used to be terrified to speak to random people. However, I learnt using momentum. I would find small situations where you could easily ask a quick question and it wouldn’t matter. For example, I would ask the bus driver if the bus stopped at the stop I wanted when buying my ticket even though I knew it did already. This way I got used to feeling pressure talking to him, it was his job to answer and I ‘held up’ the queue for a few seconds and people could hear. This… Read more »
Ian Mackay
3 years 8 months ago
It is really helpful that my job forces me to meet strangers all the time, students, external companies, random people. So I am getting good practice in chatting to ‘strangers’ However after reading this, I went into a shop I’ve never been in before and started chatting to a cashier about a top I liked but wondered if they had it in my size as couldn’t see it. I don’t really have a problem chatting to random people but I do with approaching girls. Nothing bad happened as people like to be social and chat, some of us seem to… Read more »
Geoff
Geoff
3 years 8 months ago

I was having a watch repaired and I struck up a random conversation with the salesperson. The watch is somewhat strange looking (http://www.flickr.com/photos/tokyoflashjapan/6988000324/in/set-72157629945405593) so it was easy to start a conversation about it.

I think I said something like…”Weird watch, huh?” And then…”I won it as part of a contest on TechCrunch” (true). I told her: “the outer ring shows the hours in analog format; the inner ring shows minutes”. Anyway, it was an easy conversation starter.

Philip
Philip
3 years 8 months ago
Yesterday I was at the fruit & vegetable market. This place sells a lot of produce that I’m unfamiliar with, items that are popular in a certain ethnic cuisine, but I have no clue about. When I see someone pick up one of these strange items, I often ask “How do you cook that?” People sometimes stop to discuss whole recipes with me. The key to this for me is that I’m actually very interested in what they have to say. I really want to know what to do with that odd root. Yesterday I saw someone with Malanga. “How… Read more »
Sarah Bohm
3 years 8 months ago

Jeepers, I certainly hope you still kept the 2000 word mega post! I’m sure it was EPIC

Anywho, this morning, as I was grabbing gas, I also grabbed some coffee inside the gas station. I told the girl at the counter that I loved her eye makeup. Never met her before. She smiled HUGE after I said that 🙂

See…I AM one of those people who CAN strike up conversation with those I don’t know…simply b/c I love giving compliments. I LOVE that you’ve asked your blog readers to take that first step, if it’s something they’re not used to!

Ashley Jones
3 years 8 months ago
I actually try to make this a regular practice. On New Year’s Day, I walked up to a seat at the coffee shop and set my computer bag down. Immediately, a young woman moved her bag over a little bit. I said, “Oh, thank you, but you can leave your bag there.” She said it wasn’t a problem and smiled and I mentioned that the coffee shop had taken some of the outlets out of the walls so that’s why I moved to where she was. She went on to say that she just moved, it was her first full… Read more »
Tor Ivan
3 years 8 months ago
This christmas, my uncle and aunt and me were driving home. took a pit stop. When I stepped out of the car, an older guy was walking buy. I thought I should say happy christmas. And so I did. Oh boy did he have much to say. He told me that he was about to buy some fast food at the stop, but realized that he didnt have his wallet. He then had gotten a call that he left his wallet at a store he was at earlier. some 30 miles away. to make this short, he kept rambling about… Read more »
Patrick
3 years 8 months ago

I attended a brainstorming event last night in Detroit in efforts to get involved with the community now that I’m a resident here.

Long story short, I had multiple conversations with complete strangers and all were extremely excited to be a part of something bigger than themselves.

straelyn
straelyn
3 years 8 months ago

saw a lady looking lost at the bus stop today, so I approached her and asked her if she needed any help. well, I asked in English and she kinda looked at me blankly, so I decided to switch to giving her directions in chinese instead. and that, unsurprisingly, worked (: so yup, managed to talk to a stranger, help a person in need, hone my chinese, and get life advice while at it – all in a day’s work xD

Cynthia
Cynthia
3 years 8 months ago

I started a conversation with someone I’d never really seen at work. Turns out she’s a hardcore Trekkie fan and really appreciated my asking about her book. While friendly, I ran out of Star Trek knowledge and I had to get back to work, but she made a point to find where I sit at work and I think she’ll be visiting in the future.

Russ
Russ
3 years 8 months ago

“Ask yourself this: If you keep doing the same thing, what will life look like 10 years from now?
Will you be earning the kind of money that lets you live the lifestyle you want?
Will you be able to take a weekend trip whenever you WANT to?
Will you be able to buy a round for your friends without worrying how much it costs?
Will you be living up to your potential?”

If my answer to these questions is already ‘yes’, and I’m happy with my social skills, should I still unsubscribe?

Jim
Jim
3 years 8 months ago

Cab-drivers – the ultimate resource when you are new in town. Its not so much a script, but knowing a few job specific terms – like “gate” (the shift), “medallion” (license to drive). I often start a conversation after pleasantries, with “So how long has your gate been ?” – and then move onto what’s happening in the city, where to go, what to avoid. Beats a guidebook 9 times out of 10.

Nigel Chua
3 years 8 months ago
Ramit, talking to someone I don’t know is something that like you, I’ve painfully eased into after years of reading books after books and experimenting what people respond to best (questions such as “Tell me how you got into ____” and “What do you think of ____”). Of course, it help lots that dealing with people where you have nothing to lose but everything to gain (perceived, of course) – it comes across as easy to me. Personally, I find that talking about “the hard stuff”, such as dealing with confrontations where you know the other party is “somewhat out… Read more »
Nigel Chua
3 years 8 months ago

*i mean by people who are crazy and are not open to talking…

Anne
Anne
3 years 8 months ago
Oh, I already do this all the time, and people talk to ME all the time too . . . my sister and mom and I joke about this: people talk to us EVERYWHERE. We think we must have friendly faces, or put off a sympathetic vibe. So, given that your assignment felt “elementary” to me, I decided instead to focus on how I’m USING that skill. Recently I’ve been trying to decide what to be when I grow up . . . mind you, my son is almost 20 and I’ve got a good job, but life is opening… Read more »
Calin
Calin
3 years 8 months ago
Way too many conversation with strangers… I hugged a guy in an airport only to realize he’s not the dear old friend I’ve not seen in ages. “Ok, that was a free hug” – that was my escape line, but we ended up getting a coffee and speaking about our families and kids. Last year someone shouted at me in a shoppin mall in Kuala Lumpur: “hey, dude, that your card? want me to have it to go shopping, la?” “that is a card you cannot use to shop in this country, but most certainly I can buy you a… Read more »
Dan
Dan
3 years 8 months ago
I have to do this all the time. Heck, I did this just last night with some new sales reps that we had come in. Now, not only do I know: 1. Who some of them worked for in the past. 2. What sorts of companies they like to work with. 3. How in tune with the market they are. 4. Why they are doing what they are. 5. How long they have been in the industry. 6. What some of their assigned territories are. Not bad for a 10-15 minute conversation. But, you did say to do one this… Read more »
Mike
Mike
3 years 8 months ago

Had a chat with the checkout person at target the other day, after Xmas but before New years, about our New years plans. Which were to stay at home. Nice conversation, albeit brief.

Matt E.
Matt E.
3 years 8 months ago
As another former retail worker, I can report that I’m much better at talking to “strangers” than I used to be, but my major social problem persists–I can’t shut off my brain after the fact. I was at Starbucks last night and the employees were chatting about how they were morning people and didn’t understand people that could stay up all hours of the night. Now, I happen to be a hardcore dweller of the night, who rarely makes it to bed before 2 or 3 am and I also recently read some article about circadian rhythms and how there… Read more »
Lena
Lena
3 years 8 months ago
Just the opposite with me……..can talk to a stranger in any store for 10 minutes, but can’t sustain a friendship my whole adult life. My conversation with a “friend” seems forced and I feel like silence between us would be a horrible thing! Psychics have told me in the past “communication is very important for you.” Why didn’t they say straight out, “communication will be almost impossible for you;” maybe that would have spurred me to look for help years ago! Now that I realize what they were trying to say, I feel like a complete failure that at my… Read more »
Claire
3 years 8 months ago
I went to a fundraising event last night that included an hour of networking. There were tons of raffle prizes. It was fun to watch which bins people put their tickets in and then start a conversation about that prize/piece of art/poster etc. I also used what could be the lamest joke in the world … “oh, don’t bother with that one, I’m going to win it.” But it got a chuckle and broke the ice. It was also a great way to start a conversation based on shared ground — we both like “X” because we both just put… Read more »
Melissa
Melissa
3 years 8 months ago

I started a conversation with someone I didn’t know at a chapter meeting for our local HR group. I asked what company he was with. It was a little awkward at first but it turns out we had both worked for the same company a few years apart and knew some of the same people there. It also turned out that we have skills that would be useful to the other person (he knows SQL, I know XML). So all around good experiment!!!

Paul
Paul
3 years 8 months ago
I start up conversations with random folks every time I’m at work – I work in a brick-and-mortar store for a large computer manufacturer based in the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area. Honestly, I’ve learned that I have so much in common with so many people, it’s almost eerie! This person grew up 10 miles from where I did (and I work 1500 miles from where I grew up), that person is an airplane pilot (I’m private SEL rated), another is in the military (I was in USCG for 8 years), another visits Alaska every year to… Read more »
Caylena
3 years 8 months ago
Well, I haven’t done this at Ramit’s request, but – I did attend three (!) networking events this week where I certainly met people that I hadn’t met before. Also, I work as a photojournalist, so I am constantly having to talk to strangers. I’ve had this job since last June. At the beginning, it felt soooooooooooooooooooo uncomfortable to talk to strangers, ask for their names/towns etc. for captions. Now, I’m much less uncomfortable. I’m not perfect at it, but I’ve gotten so much better and it doesn’t wig me out anymore. I also got the job by talking to… Read more »
Janna
Janna
3 years 8 months ago
I actually did this yesterday by chance, without even reading this blog post first, but I think it counts because I was consciously thinking about how I want to practice social skills and starting random conversations with strangers. I hate being in places like the hair salon, grocery store, etc and having that awkward silence. So when I went to the store and got a sample of tea, I actually made conversation with the lady giving out the samples. First the usual, the weather, but then we started talking about Northern California vs. Southern California, and I realized it wasn’t… Read more »
Asf
Asf
3 years 8 months ago

Started a conversation yesterday with a woman who works in my building and we ended up talking on the metro until her stop. Talked about her just moving to dc, and various other things. Was very smooth. Nothing would have happened though if I hadn’t made a comment to her in the elevator.

Nathan Strange
3 years 8 months ago
In my job, I talk to random strangers all day long and try to help them through some of the most difficult times of their lives. I’ve learned to become adept at getting folks to open up and feel comfortable around me. As has already been mentioned, questions are the best tool for the job. Ask about anything…a book, an article of clothing, a hairstyle…take notice of something the other person is noticing…whatever. FIND something to ask about. My favorite part about this technique has also already been mentioned: the way folks light up when they believe that you are… Read more »
AJ
AJ
3 years 8 months ago
After reading your email, I went out of the office to get a milk tea to go (milk teas are kind of a thing here in the Philippines) from the little shop on the first floor of our building. The tea takes about two minutes to make, and I was the only customer inside. With your task in mind, I asked the cashier if they (all four employees who were there) are students. She answered yes, and that their employer only takes in part-timers. I asked her where she’s studying. She told me which university then proceeded to ask the… Read more »
Fanny
Fanny
3 years 8 months ago
I am quite comfortable with engaging a conversation with strangers. Especially when it does not really imply any real involvement. Small talk is easy. But this week, I tried something totally new to me… So I learned about this assignment after I’ve been contacting several former students of a course I am considering to take. These people I have never met before opened up to me on the phone about their experience, wishes and hopes for their career… I was really surprised to see how people love to share their experiences ! A few of them actually ended the conversation… Read more »
Scott Wilson
3 years 8 months ago

Everyone loves to be complimented on their clothing, accessories or appearance, so if I have nothing better to open with, I ask, “Do you get a lot of compliments on ?” People can’t help but smile even if the answer is no.

Jeffrey Rosan
3 years 8 months ago
Well, I kind of cheated on this one in the sense that I struck up conversations with two strangers at Staples yesterday, while buying supplies for the upcoming tax season. We discussed alternating theories at what gets you audited and in so doing I may have grabbed two more clients. We will see about that because inevitably my biggest problem is talking too much! (This is what happens when you are an extroverted Jew, have ADD and are off the meds.) Back to it though, these conversations with random folks throughout my life HAVE lead to more business connections, and… Read more »
Amy
Amy
3 years 8 months ago

What if this is your nature and you generally do this every day? Got something a bit more challenging for me?

kbh
kbh
3 years 8 months ago

A little while ago I introduced myself to a guy who works in the same industry I’m working in. I just started in this area, and he has been successful at it for years. I asked him to lunch, and we are going to lunch today. This was way outside of my comfort zone. Although I think this counts, I’ll still accept your challenge and start a conversation with someone I don’t know.

Lesley
Lesley
3 years 8 months ago
I’ve been putting this one into practise over the past year. I have no problem in a work/networking environment (as you can talk ‘shop’), but on a social level I feel awkward if I’m by myself. Although I’d like to think of myself as pretty amicable, no one really speaks with each other in London and getting over that shyness sometimes is a challenge (especially if you like the look of whom your speaking to) Testing (aka Momentary Failures) – Looks of disapproval on the tube can make you die a tiny bit inside, people being weirded out (my mohawk… Read more »
Sharon
Sharon
3 years 8 months ago
I actually don’t really have a problem striking up a conversation with strangers at anytime. I have been told that I don’t know a stranger. Last evening was the last time I had a conversation with some one I didn’t know. The fellow that helped me with my groceries looked like and interesting guy, so I asked him if he was familiar the area? I work quite a ways from where I live and shop near work on my way home. He was full of alot of information that I was unaware of regarding the immediate neighborhood. I learned some… Read more »
Danny
Danny
3 years 8 months ago
I was in the break room at work and saw someone getting coffee. I had never spoken to this person though I’ve seen them in the hall fairly often. I asked “how’s that coffee workin’ out for you?” knowing that the coffee is total crap and everyone hates it. They groaned and mentioned how much it sucked but it was free so what can you do? Next thing you know we’re talking about how HR often does weird things (like order the world’s worst coffee) that are meant to make people more comfortable at work but just end up annoying… Read more »
Rakesh Patel
3 years 8 months ago

I lost my mojo so decided to travel to London on my own without my girlfriend. I went to a busy restaurant in Chinatown at peak time on my own and asked for a table for one. The scariest thing I’ve ever done. I sat down and got talking to the table next to me. “Hey guys. That looks good, what is it you’re eating?” The rest is history. The next day I talked and smiled to everyone I came into contact with.

Monika
Monika
3 years 8 months ago

I met another mother in the park while walking with the kids and I started the conversation by, “thank God it’s a better whether today!” And then we got into a nice conversation about the kids and other things in the neighborhood .

Emily Calle
3 years 8 months ago
I don’t have any problem talking to strangers . . . in English. But since moving to Austria (where I don’t speak the language and where cultural social constructs are different and discourage interaction with strangers) it’s pretty hard to make a connection with new people. So, I figured this was a good thing to try . . . and I did it in German (which I barely speak). I asked my mailman, “Wie gehts?” (how’s it going? — and the casual/informal version, which was probably gauche) when he brought the mail. He gave me kind of a bemused smile… Read more »
renee shatanoff
renee shatanoff
3 years 8 months ago

When you are standing in a grocery line and someone behind you in line has less than three items, say “I see you only have a few items. Please go ahead of me.” It’s easy, people are so appreciative, it feels good, and everyone leaves with a smile.

Elise
Elise
3 years 8 months ago

It “worked.”
Walked into a usually hectic coffee shop at 7am.
“Pretty quiet in here? Seems pretty quiet.”
“Yep.” But then… A little chatting about my coffee mug, the song playing, and an extra punch on my coffee card to fill it up. The extra stamp is little, though I doubt that would’ve happened if I’d dead panned the staff when I walked in. And I’m starting the day with more confidence already.

Gordon Rennie
Gordon Rennie
3 years 8 months ago
Good post. I have been for the last twelve or so years been quite confident and have no qualms in striking up conversations in person with people from all walks of life. I find these moments and negoitiating enjoyable and recently earned a 56.6% raise in my job by using similar tactics that Ramit talks about in his various posts. Having said that when it comes to my dream job pursuit and contacting people of note in large companies I struggle with introductory emails. So I bit the bullet, I made a list of the ten jobs that I would… Read more »
Malu
Malu
3 years 8 months ago

I’m very shy when it comes to talking to strangers even at reunions where I don’t know most of the people. So yesterday I was walking my dog and there was this couple, they had a very weird looking dog so I had to ask what kind of dog was it (it happened to be a mix of who knows how many breeds).
We talked for more than 2 hours and at the end we exchanged emails. It was interesting because now we might be working together in a project.

Geoff Whitmore
3 years 8 months ago

Just wanted to let you know that I do put your posts into action! It was your blog, and a few others that motivated me to leave my former full time job of over a decade to go full-force with my current one as a blogger. Your ideas about credit cards motivated me, and your thoughts/tips on starting a business STILL motivate me.

Thank you for the incredible information you continue to put out there!! It is implemented by some of us, and that’s what matters!

Jon
Jon
3 years 8 months ago
Wow, weird timing. I’ve been doing random approaches the past few days to start getting rid of my anxiety of meeting new people. Yesterday I approached 4 people, the first of which was a cute girl on the bus. I noticed she was a student at the university I go to, so we chatted about that for a bit. We exchanged names, but it kinda died off. I’m trying a few small talk openers I thought up in the next few days so this doesn’t happen. My last approach was another cute girl at my Krav Maga class. We only… Read more »
Paula
Paula
3 years 8 months ago
Ever since a kid I’ve been extremely shy. However the last several years I’ve taught myself to speak and get heard. One of my methods is using my bad habit, namely talking out loud. Just today I was looking for a hardcopy planner (I’m old school in this) and by commenting out loud regarding several possibilities I got talking to a newly mother who was also looking for a planner with monthly and weekly schedules. We both checked all pros and cons regarding the different possibilities and we bought the same and were pleasantly surprised a the cash register because… Read more »
Paul
3 years 8 months ago
I used to suck at conversation. Then I bought a few books, and now I’m getting much better. But most important is that I get lots of real-world practice through my music blog. I talk to lots of independent bands about their music, or whatever else. There’s an upcoming (free) concert on Monday, so I will be talking to that band too. The first few times I did this, I was all stuttering and anxiety, but these days talking to bands is the status quo. But maybe this time I’ll try striking up a conversation with somebody in the audience… Read more »
Veronica
Veronica
3 years 8 months ago
Excellent examples of conversation starters! I, however, have never had a problem striking up a conversation with just about anyone. What I’ve noticed is that I ask one question (Nice day, isn’t it?) and the other person then proceeds to tell me his/her entire life story. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Most of the time, I don’t mind it; it helps me make a connection to the person and sometimes it gets me more than what I ask for (extra whiskey in my Manhattan, for example). But I gotta tell ya, I have more “friends” than a person could ever need!
Anthea
3 years 8 months ago
Do work conversations count? I don’t want to wait til tonight and then forget to post… I work in Sales qualifying leads, so I’m pretty comfortable starting at least shallow conversations with strangers. This morning I’ve called two people who had filled out contact forms on the company website, to get more details about their applications and which configurations of our product can serve them best before putting them in touch with a product specialist. We didn’t really talk about anything beyond that, but I always go for a nice conversational tone. I’m planning to go out to Moe’s for… Read more »
Ananda
3 years 8 months ago

Dear Ramith,

I read and appreciate all you offer. Some of it I don’t use directly, but your voice keeps me on track – you remind me to ask myself everyday – Am I focused? Daring? Organized? Clear? I know I can count on learning something new each time I go back to listen to Earn1K material.
I’ve been starting new conversations with fellow parents each week and it’s great. I enjoy hearing their stories, and I am gaining more ease and confidence in sharing with people who I am and what I’m about.
Your work continues to inspire and motivate me.
Best,
A

Nan
Nan
3 years 8 months ago
Wow! I started reading your post, thinking I was the loser you wanted to dump from your e-mail list. Turns out I’d just done this assignment twice. I’m an introvert by nature, doing temp work in an agency’s facility where I know most of the people and don’t get out a lot as my mom is in a nursing home and I’m busy taking care of her stuff. Nevertheless, I was in the parking ramp elevator with a Scandinavian woman, who was looking at a Sacagawea dollar, not understanding who was depicted. I went on a spontaneous discussion of coins… Read more »
Alison
Alison
3 years 8 months ago

Hey, this actually made me feel really good, because I am a total introvert, yet I use most of your conversational cues regularly! I love asking clerks if things have been busy (answer: they are relieved to be asked, whether or not the answer is yes – makes them feel less like automatons). Even saying, “Wow, your dog is beautiful. What kind is it?” gets a puff of pride and a Thank You and everyone goes on with their day feeling awesome.

People, if I can do it, you can!

Eric
Eric
3 years 8 months ago

Talked with someone in the queue while buying coffee.. Chatted and asked him for his favourite

Tony
3 years 8 months ago
I went out to dinner with my wife last night and we were with some of her coworkers. They too brought along friends or significant others. I started a conversation with lady there that didn’t seem to know anyone else. So we start talking and she asks me what I do. I respond that I am a research assistant and working on my PhD in Biomechanics, more specifically, ACL research. She stops me mid sentence and tells me she works at a local hospital in charge of continuing education for the physicians. We talk about all the common folks we… Read more »
Hope
Hope
3 years 8 months ago

I asked a sales clerk whether the shop had been busy this week — the answer was no, and then we mused on the post-holiday doldrums for a while. 😉

Thanks for the nudge!

Deborah
Deborah
3 years 8 months ago
I do not have a problem starting up conversations with strangers, for example on line at the grocery store, DEFINITELY on line at shops, with UPS and FedEx folks — yet at the same time when I am, say, on a plane flight I usually just want to stare out the window and not make chitchat. (The difference between a few minutes of conversation that might or might not lead somewhere, and a potential hour to 5 hours of excruciating hell, quite likely to involve the bad breath and insipid ramblings of a moron.) Well, for some reason I decided… Read more »
Mel
Mel
3 years 8 months ago

Asked a mom at my daughter’s school about her new baby. How old, name, etc, and what a beautiful child. She seemed offended, but maybe she was just in a rush to get away. Marginal success.

Kurt
Kurt
3 years 8 months ago

You would pick the one thing that terrifies be above all others wouldn’t you? Well I don’t want to unsubscribe so I’ll check back in on Monday with the results. Here goes nothing.

Ben
Ben
3 years 8 months ago
For once, I am one step ahead. I don’t have a problem with smalltalk — in fact, I enjoy it. I work in a building with many other technical people who would have issues with this assignment. I love it. For mine, I noticed that we have a new front-desk security guard in the new year. I was on first-name terms with the previous (now retired) guard. I took the time to meet this new person and introduce myself. It was a bit awkward as the younger guard was used to silent processing of badges and allowing access — I… Read more »
Inta
3 years 8 months ago

approached my idol photographer at store….and was very surprised he found time to talk with me for 20 min. Will follow up with assisting him durring this year….yaaa i did it 🙂

Melissa
Melissa
3 years 8 months ago

Mine was in the bathroom at Walmart lol! The water to was my hands was freezing and there was an older lady next to me trying to wash her hands. It was more of an accidental conversation so I do not know the exact words I used, but it went into a couple minutes of conversation about the cold water to the cold weather.
She was a very nice lady and smiled a lot. Something I can learn from.

Tanya Malott
3 years 8 months ago

I talk to strangers every day without any problems. Walking the dog, getting coffee, at Whole Foods (with anyone), on airplanes, in airports, in taxis…you name it. People say I’m really good at it, and I know that is true. What I can’t do is speak to an audience, in public, or in front of a group without heart palpitations. How do you deal with THAT?

Nan
Nan
3 years 8 months ago

propranalol.

Vinita Zutshi
3 years 8 months ago

Hi Ramit,

I was smiling as I read your post. As it happens, I’m the person who can write the book “How to Talk to Anyone”, and I do. In fact, I’ve done so all my life! 🙂

Looking forward to the next action step!

Nicole
Nicole
3 years 8 months ago

I asked the mailman what it was like to drive on the right side of the truck. I also asked him if he liked to listen to music or books on tape or talk radio while he’s doing his route. Apparently my mailman is a classic rock mailman.

JBdfTX
JBdfTX
3 years 8 months ago
Hey Ramit- First, I LOVE that photo you have shown here. Awesome toga! Was it Halloween or? Second, I am very reserved to the point of being mistaken for an unfriendly or unappy individual. Many close friends have said they would have never known how kind/intelligent/knowledgeable/awesome I really am if not for projects we had worked on or seen for themselves how I advocate for the people around me. In March I moved to a new neighborhood and saw a few people move in around me. The couple to my left seemed super nice & so when out watering the… Read more »
Wayne
Wayne
3 years 8 months ago

I don’t know if this counts as a conversation, but . . .

I comforted a young woman who I saw slip off the curb and hit her head at Union Square (NY) this morning, and waited with her until the police arrived.

Matt
Matt
3 years 8 months ago
I’m pretty good at talking to people, both in a work and social environment. I talk to people in lifts, on trains, in garages, everywhere. So I don’t think I need this assignment specifically, but I recognise it’s value and will continue to practice it. But you asked for examples so the last time would be asking the checkout girl how long her day had been and was she looking forward to going home. It was quite late. She smiled, told me she’d been working for so many hours, was really tired etc. Not quite a cold approach but another… Read more »
Ali
Ali
3 years 8 months ago

Great reminder of the power of social skills needed to excel in life. I did this exercise but I used a different approach (and often do). I like to find similarities between myself and others so I’ll often use scripts depending on what they’re wearing, or where we are (the gym) “I really like your running shoes. How many miles do you run a week?”. I quickly make connections and more often than not, I’ll run into them again where we can pick up the conversation where we left off.

Thanks for the reminder – keep it coming!

JD
JD
3 years 8 months ago
New guy at work. I asked: “Hey, has anyone shown you how to do this yet?” He had lots of questions, and finally left me, smiling, because I had the answers to his questions. I can guarantee I’ll be the first person to whom he puts questions from now on, because it always happens that way when I help someone who just needs someone to show them what to do, from the big-wigs on down to the mail room clerk. I’m an introvert, but when it comes to “teaching”, I can speak easily. And by the way, I can’t process… Read more »
Adrienne
Adrienne
3 years 8 months ago
Thanks for the assignment. While paying for some clothes for my daughter this morning I said to the cashier ‘wow it’s warm in here, it could almost put me to sleep.’ She had been looking sleepy but perked up and laughed. It looked like she was thrilled that someone would even talk to her. Then I said I wondered if they did it on purpose to make shoppers buy more and we ended up having a very interesting chat about some changes that the store had made recently, colours, lighting, layout. She said that their average purchase has gone up… Read more »
Todd
Todd
3 years 8 months ago

I was at a booksigning for a favorite author of mine last night, and got into a fairly long discussion with the strangers around me, beginning with the book, then commiserating that the series is done, then sympathy for the guy who was going to miss the signing because he had to work.

Granted, at a book signing for an author I (we) like means that we automatically have SOMETHING to talk about, but I see that as a starting point rather than a ‘cheat’

No long term contacts, but some nice banter.

Ronald Fox
3 years 8 months ago
I’ve decided to turn the ship on negative speech. The first opportunity presented itself in a conversation over the topic of the film and television industry. The gentleman I was speaking with was clearly irritated by the nepotism rampant (and not isolated to one country – he’s in the UK and I’m stateside) within the business. As we spoke I suggested he continue to focus on the ideas and creative aspects. No matter where you go, it seems you’re always going to encounter people who “fell into something” perhaps because Dad is a director, or mom is a producer, or… Read more »
Igor
Igor
3 years 8 months ago
I went to Prague for a New Year for a couple of days with my friends, and first night there at the hostel I sat in the hall for like fifteen minutes browsing when I noticed a Dutch couple who were carrying playing cards obviously looking for a table – so I offered them seats at my table, they accepted, later on the whole bunch of Dutch guys and girls arrived and I also brought my friends, who brought Serbian Rakija lol… Dutch guys intended to play some card game that involved drinking, as you can imagine this turned out… Read more »
Ramani
Ramani
3 years 8 months ago

I met someone (a total stranger) in the path station with her kid. When the kid is nearby and looked at me, I asked the kid’s mother ” Cute kid.. How old is he?”. That started our conversation and she explained me how wonderful the kid is, how much he plays and how less he sleeps. etc. It was great.

Phil
Phil
3 years 8 months ago
I went to a local meetup at a bar for trivia night and only knew one person. I not only met people from the group and the bar but found out about some job opportunities. I had stopped going out to save $$ and my job search had stalled. Now I’ve applied to 2 positions with referrals from employees. When you meet people they ask you “what do you do?”, when you say you are looking they say “what kind of jobs?”(banking/finance) when you tell them they will tell you about openings that they know about that are like that(one… Read more »
SL
SL
3 years 8 months ago

I told a woman I saw on vacation that I loved her black dress and that the cut was perfect on her. She was flattered and starting blushing – it was clear that she hadn’t been complimented in a really long time! It made me feel good to bring a smile to someone else’s face.

Ellen O'Connor
Ellen O'Connor
3 years 8 months ago

I retired early and in the last year went from seeking a policy job in government (continuing my career) to studying on-line in health care data. Brand new direction, so very challenging. I’ve rebuilt my confidence, my engagement with new ideas and I feel great. I look forward to a job in another 6 mos. that will be interesting to me for the years ahead because I want to work.

Karol Gajda
3 years 8 months ago
An interesting, somewhat old example that I indirectly owe to you, Ramit. You tweeted about some dudes called Simple Pickup about 2 years ago and I subscribed to their youtube vids. Last year I was pissed I sucked with girls and, since I was going to be in the US for a couple months, I signed up for their bootcamp in Hollywood. Long story short, everything changed. When I got home I began playing a game I dubbed “Rejection Theatre” where I would talk to every pretty girl I came across, even if I had to run after her and… Read more »
ST
ST
3 years 8 months ago

Men who consider me pretty usually describe me as highly intelligent and a great conversationalist. Men who don’t consider me pretty think of me as rude or boring. You might consider that these women were responding to your attitude (I’m sure to be rude if I can tell a guy would prefer to be speaking to someone else, and isn’t paying attention to me). At any rate, it’s great that you found a relationship.

Mia
3 years 8 months ago
Oh gosh, I am definitely someone who doesn’t talk to new people easily. I get anxious about it and make it a much bigger deal than it is. It just doesn’t come naturally! Yesterday, I had a meeting with an admissions counselor at the grad school I’m applying to. Not quite a stranger, but still nerve-wracking! We ended up getting along great. We talked about the program, but also about our families, travel, the city the school is in, and so on. I felt like we clicked really well and the conversation was easy. I also talked to a cashier.… Read more »
Sarah
Sarah
3 years 8 months ago
Before I left the workforce to stay home with my kids, I was not big on interacting with random strangers. I got enough social contact at work to keep those skills fluid. When you start spending all day with nonverbal humans, you learn to appreciate adult conversation from whatever adult you may meet because you’re desperate to communicate with ANYONE. I’ll see your 5 scripts and add a sixth: talk to a mom with young kids in tow, about something other than her kids. “What do you think of this weather?” is always a good place to start. She’ll probably… Read more »
April
April
3 years 8 months ago
Ok, thank God I grew up watching my grandfather talk to strangers because I incurred brain damage at 11 in the exact area of the brain that processes social cues and measures appropriate responses. I had to relearn, as an adult, by studying cues and facial features, how to start talking to people. I had great memories of my grandfather to employ. So, I’m clear people can learn to talk to even a stone wall about its subtle variations of crystalline structure. My question is how do I move beyond the superficial without seeming nosy? I don’t buy into the… Read more »
Maggie
Maggie
3 years 8 months ago

Hi Ramit,

I live in Boston and happen to be very good at striking up conversations with strangers. In the last two weeks I have asked people what kind of dogs they were walking, I struck up a conversation with a salesgirl at one of our local department stores. People love to talk about themselves and I am a very good listener. I love your book!

Janice
3 years 8 months ago
Gulp…I made a phone call I have been putting off forever. A simple call to make an appointment with a new hair stylist, a French one, that I’ve researched and had on my to do list forever. After reading your post, I thought this is like having a conversation with a stranger and is scary because making the appointment at this particular salon will thrust me into having several conversations with people I’ve never met at a place I’ve never been… A much more elegant and international place but where the aesthetics match my desires. So I shifted myself to… Read more »
Mel Ryan
Mel Ryan
3 years 8 months ago
Ramit! Have you been following me? I’ve spent the last month practicing being more social! I actually have severe social anxiety disorder, with major panic attacks. I’m on new medication now, but I’ve been so withdrawn for years now that my social skills really suck. Since I just started a new job, I’ve decided to take the opportunity to practice so I can build a better network. I’ve learned the hard way that you can’t just be a wallflower all your life and suddenly wake up one day knowing how to get people gabbing. You have to get yourself out… Read more »
Mikhail
Mikhail
3 years 8 months ago
Another environment to try these is at the gym. Most people are there for similar reasons, so common ground is already shared. It’s surprising that most people are actually quite friendly and willing to spot you, or to let you work in your sets when they’re using a piece of equipment. Lately I’ve been trying to develop greater flexibility in speaking to random people. I commiserated with the UPS delivery person about their busy schedule. I try to greet checkout persons in a more friendly way. I ask people about the exercises they do at the gym, if I’m curious.… Read more »
N M
N M
3 years 8 months ago

Started conversation with my neighbor, asked if I can help her with huge stroller and then asked if she carries it up and down every day (we live in a walk-up). We both agreed that it’s a great workout. It went quite nice, I still felt a bit awkward, though.

Chris Horner
3 years 8 months ago

Noticed a nice watch on a guy next to me in line. Told him it looked cool and asked him what kind. He smiled took it off and handed it to me. With the weight it was a solid 18k gold five figure watch. We chatted about watches for a few minutes. At the end we exchanged business cards. New contact. Boom. No one died.

Julia
Julia
3 years 8 months ago

I used to be terrified of this, but I’ve gotten much better in the last couple of years, especially thanks to my boyfriend who models this well. I started undergraduate classes at UCD post bach this week and approached successful-appearing strangers in both of them to make studying friends. I started by introducing myself and asking if they’d had the professor before and boom! conversation happened.

Nahna
Nahna
3 years 8 months ago
Cathy0 nailed this: they are questions and they’re about the other person. You can always talk about yourself later, but starting off with an interest in them is what make them feel good about you :). Plus, you can always gather information on how people think, even if it’s a 5 second chat with the mailman. Since I got the “talking to strangers” part covered, I thought I could change up the challenge a little bit: I tend not to take conversations to a deeper level with people I already know (boss, colleagues, bf, friends) and are important to me.… Read more »
Stephanie
Stephanie
3 years 8 months ago
I seldom have problems starting little nothing conversations with strangers. For example, since I grocery shop late at night (the lines are so much shorter) I normally start off with questions about whether the checker is off soon. Said conversations seldom go anywhere, but it makes you pleasant to be around, so whatever. One thing I have been working on is eye contact. And this is because of what my sister is teaching my nephew. He’s 2. She reminds him to make eye contact with people when he says thank you or asks for stuff (“Eyeballs Cameron!”).
Nahna
Nahna
3 years 8 months ago

That is adorable and is gonna make a big difference on how much people like him later.

Karen Julia
3 years 8 months ago

I overheard a conversation at gym class between two other girls (about a class elsewhere I had been considering) & kinda interrupted them to ask them about an aspect of what they were talking about. I learned something new & she seemed enthusiastic about discussing the other class. (Which was rubbish apparently, so doing this saved me money)

Natalie
3 years 8 months ago

I saw a girl on the street with killer leather pants.

I said: WHERE DID YOU GET THOSE?

She said: BCBG! WHERE DID YOU GET THAT CREME SWEATER?

I said: TJ MAXX BUT I HATE THAT STORE!

She said: Me too but I like that!

These interactions are very easy for me. The interactions I have trouble with are meeting people that I feel have an advantage over me or could give me more work.

Or if I have to talk about myself, I get tongue tied and awkward and sweaty.

Krystyna
Krystyna
3 years 8 months ago
We lost our home and everything in it to Hurricane Sandy so I’m now in an apartment in a new neighborhood without a car (also gone in the flood) and completely isolated. So as a first step I went across the street to the library and took out a card. There was a display of quilts on the walls by the reference desk and I walked over to look at them. Another woman was standing there and I said, “These are just lovely, aren’t they?” She said yes, and started talking about her own quilts and quilting. I mentioned that… Read more »
Joyce
Joyce
3 years 8 months ago
Today I went to a book launch of a chief justice. After the program, I went out to the buffet table and fell in line. The people in front of me were talking. When I got my food, I tried to look for a place to eat, then I asked them if I could join them in their cocktail table. They were kind and made space for me. I said that I was a student there. They worked for a government agency. The lawyer to my left introduced herself and said that the book was expenive. We ate our food.… Read more »
Jen
Jen
3 years 8 months ago

I was waiting for some paperwork to be completed and I complimented her on her top which lead into a moment of conversation and getting my paper work finished a bit quicker.
Getting a conversation can be easy, it knowing when to leave the conversation or room can sometimes be awkward. When do you know when to go and not over welcome you stay either at work or in networking?

Curtis Stewart
Curtis Stewart
3 years 8 months ago
Was at the post office this morning and a guy had his dog with him. Mine was in the truck giving it billy hell. His little dog was about the size of mine and we had a nice chat about big guys with little dogs. I ride a Ural side hack rig. They have a term for strangers coming up to you and start talking about the rig; UDF or Ural Delay Factor. If you have issues with strangers coming up to talk, better not get one of these rides. I was taught cold call selling by my mom selling… Read more »
Jerry
Jerry
3 years 8 months ago
Ramit, I do this all the time. Just yesterday, I struck up a conversation with the check-out girl at a home depot. One test that has worked for me to get better service is by simply calling the service person (waitress, cashier, teller, customer service rep on the phone, etc) by their name. I usually glance at their name tag and start the conversation with their name. If there isn’t a name tag, eg the bartender at a bar, I ask them for their name. I have noticed a HUGE difference in the service I have received since before I… Read more »
Fernanda
Fernanda
3 years 8 months ago
Though I am naturally shy, my love and curiosity for people always makes me talk to strangers. On Monday, one of the new ushers at work walked in, a strikingly tall (for South European standards anyway) lady in her late 50s. My colleague assumed she couldn´t possibly be taller than 6 ft., so I decided to prove her wrong. However, as soon as the usher lady and I were on our own, a made a friendly comment on her height, inquiring how tall she was. (She´s a lot taller than my colleague assumed). She answered that she sometimes had difficulties… Read more »
Deanna
Deanna
3 years 8 months ago

I think I just look like an approachable person, because strangers start conversations with me ALL THE TIME. Also, I start conversations with strangers from time to time, myself. I think it’s because I make eye contact with them.

Anyway, my experience was very pleasant. I didn’t use one of the aforementioned canned line. I just told a woman I liked her blouse. She was very nice.

Sowm
3 years 8 months ago

I asked a fellow dog-walker if my dog could say hi to his dog. And then while the dogs were doing their thing, we talked about each other’s dogs, how the weather was getting better and about the apartment complex in general. Short and sweet.

ENI
ENI
3 years 8 months ago
I frequent this Yoga studio and normally I am either in a rush to go in the class or too relaxed afterwards to make an effort to talk to people. In today’s morning class, despite being 7.30am I made an effort to talk to a fellow yogi. I initiated the conversation by commenting how good the class was. Then we got talking about the quality of classes and how it has improved our health. It was a brief conversation, but it was my first step to talk to someone new. Next time I’ll attempt to have a longer one. Biggest… Read more »
Brent
Brent
3 years 8 months ago

Instead of waiting for others to introduce me at a social event, I introduced myself to one person, stumbled through it, but made a connection.

Jennifer J
3 years 8 months ago
I live in a rural, economically poor, natural resource rich, educationally low, ex-logging community – There is always something to talk about. I love watching the response… people are either shocked that you (a stranger) are striking up a conversation or are delighted and launch right in to telling you about their life, opinion, plans, etc… “Networking” events in this community are interesting as people wear so many varied hats – the school principal may own a cattle ranch and ship hay to So Cal, the welder at the fab shop may also own 3 restaurants in town, the receptionist… Read more »
Kait
3 years 8 months ago
Since I work as a secretary, it’s pretty much a given that I will talk to strangers each day, either on the phone or in person at the office. Today I was fortunate in that we were hosting a conference, so there were plenty of strangers for me to meet. The conversation I had was with one of our conference-goers, who had gotten lost in the hallway while looking for the exit. I chatted with her briefly as I guided her to the front door. Didn’t learn a lot about her, but she’s a college professor in my hometown. Honestly,… Read more »
PNP
PNP
3 years 8 months ago
So last night I head over to an industry event, and I’m thinking “If I am applying what I learned in Dream Job… I need natural networking to pivot into my next career.” So I see a guy with a unique lapel pin on it. I start the conversation by saying, “Excuse me, what does your pin represent?” Seems innocuous enough. It turns out he served previously in the military, and asking him more about where that led him, he shared that he rose up to become the CTO at one of America’s largest contracting firms. From asking about the… Read more »
Cat Braithwaite
3 years 8 months ago
Thankfully, I have NO problem being social in the world. I can talk to anyone any where about anything…occasionally stumbling into TMI territory. But, what I find to be the most important thing is perfectly demonstrated in your “scripts”. BE INTERESTED. Whether you truly are or not, people like to talk to people who are interested in what they’re doing or who they are. In my retail position, I approach customers by asking them if they’re having a good time, before asking if I can help them find something. This breaks the ice, usually elicits a chuckle and opens the… Read more »
Cat
Cat
3 years 8 months ago
I asked a stranger (friend of a friend) about her nail polish. She was yoinger than me and very shy, but we started talking makeup. This turned into a 16-hour day. I learned her parents had thrown her out of her house and she had nowhere to go (she’s a teenager), and she hasn’t eaten in a week. I bought her breakfast, took her to the doctor, and got her to a safe house. She told me later that when I stopped to talk to her, she had been deciding the beat way to kill herself. She’s now staying someplace… Read more »
Simi
Simi
3 years 8 months ago

That was very touching, Cat. Thanks for sharing.

Luna
Luna
3 years 8 months ago

Wow, great work Cat. I’m sure she’ll remember that moment you took to talk with her (and how you simultaneously helped turn her life around) forever. That’s wonderful.

Theo
Theo
3 years 8 months ago

Thanks for helping the girl, Cat. It was really kind of you.

Johnny Mean
Johnny Mean
3 years 8 months ago
Since my arrival in Bangkok last September I do this multiple times on the daily. I have found traveling to be a great time to experiment in social skills, overcome language and culture barriers, discover valuable information from fellow travelers and locals, while sharing experiences. The results have expanded my social and professional network in this way Some have become FB acquaintances and some temporary traveling companions. Ice breaking is an invaluable skill and key to successful negotiations I have had. Kurt Mortensen’s Law of Connectivity (Maximum Influence) has been a great resource. Ramit: I love where you are going… Read more »
Sonia
Sonia
3 years 8 months ago
I thought this was going to be easy, as I grew up in a small town where I learned to strike a conversation with anybody (even though I’m an introvert) and I just moved to a new small town. It wasn’t. Probably because I knew I had to do it, instead of just doing it on my own as it comes naturally. I had to go to 3 places, so I figured I’d attempt a trio of stranger conversation. First store: The cashier just wanted to move customers through. Not even eye contact. Not a single opening where I could… Read more »
Lisa
Lisa
3 years 8 months ago
Hello Ramit, I actually did this three times yesterday – your emails have been inspiring me to get out of my comfort zone (I have always thought of myself as socially inadequate). First, I went to a meeting with the Assistant Dean of Nursing at my university (I had spoken briefly on the phone last week). Although she didn’t have much information to give me that I didn’t already know, she took my contact information and told me she would be glad to forward anything that came along. About six hours later, she emailed me with a lead. * POSITIVE… Read more »
Anika
Anika
3 years 8 months ago
I actually just did this yesterday, before I saw Ramit’s new post. I ran into a local convenience store to grab a soda (ya, a habit I am trying to kick, and am doing so by charting my progress so I can physically see the results I am getting) and there were two people in there who bought over $100 worth of lottery tickets. I said to the woman who checked me out “Do they actually think they are going to be “the one” who wins all that money?” “Why don’t they go do something more constructive rather than sitting… Read more »
Saul Medina
Saul Medina
3 years 8 months ago

Recently I have been trying to speak with other people from my job at all position levels. Just in the past month I have spent time speaking with supervisors, managers, and even the general manager. I have even found myself making proposals to various managers and even potential clients. I’ve gain a lot of confidence in doing this. In asking other supervisors or co-workers what there task is and have even offered my help if they need any and one of them has contacted me for help and they approved of the work that I

Nathan
Nathan
3 years 8 months ago

I’m reading a book right now called To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink (great book!). He mentioned that Jim Collins favorite opening line is “Where are you from?”. So I used that one with another student in a class I’m attending. It lead to a natural, comfortable conversation. In the book, the author contrasts that with his previous favorite, “What do you do for a living?” and explains why Jim Collins preferred line is indeed the better one to go with.

Sean
Sean
3 years 8 months ago
I was waiting at the bus station in Hong Kong and I noticed an elderly worker who was sweeping the sidewalk. I went up to her and asked her for directions, but since I wasnt in any kind of hurry we ended up striking a great conversation ranging from what bothers her most about her job, her sense of pride in the city, and how she is doing what she is doing to provide for her children. I taught her how to use my iPad (she wanted to buy one for her daughter as a birthday gift) and I gave… Read more »
syd
syd
3 years 8 months ago
My problem is it’s hard for me to “pretend.” I’ve always heard the advice to smile at people to get them to like you, but my smile must be horrid because people stare at me like I’m psycho. It’s hard for me to pretend to smile or talk to people I don’t want to talk to. Like 90% of the time, if I do try and talk they stare at me with this weird awkward silence, and the conversation peters out into a spiral of death and destruction. I would make a great desert hermit. People are mean. People irritate… Read more »
Anna B
Anna B
3 years 8 months ago
I am one of those weirdos who starts conversations in elevators, in line, in awkward situations. I have a 75% failure rate, but I don’t really care! It’s their problem. The 25% who engage seem genuinely relieved/surprised that someone is talking to them. Since I do this without an agenda, I haven’t really ended up making solid contacts but I do feel more connected to the populations around me and it helps me remember that there are a lot of interesting, funny, solid people out there. In the reverse, I design jewelry and I have a few large, signature pieces… Read more »
Jennifer
Jennifer
3 years 8 months ago
Syd, my heart goes out to you! My 16-year-old stepson has Asperger’s syndrome, and I don’t know if that has any application to your situation, but he gets the same kinds of reactions. People just don’t “get” him, and he doesn’t get most people (nor does he want to). A social-skills counselor might do wonders for you! And don’t worry, there are thousands, even millions of really nice people in the world too (to make up for all the meanies who make you feel out of place). 🙂 Anyway, don’t worry about how you might look when you smile; smile… Read more »
Cindy@12Tribes
3 years 8 months ago
Being the “chief procurement officer” of my family, I always make time for whoever is checking me out at the grocery store, the convenience store, waiters at restaurants…my usual first line is “have you been busy today?” And the conversation is off…the response always is congenial and those folks actually are grateful for a friendly customer instead of someone who is “a problem”. If it happens to be someone who is an employer or employee of another industry, an interested “What have you been working on lately” gets them to talk about their most favorite subject at the moment. Perhaps… Read more »
Jacqui Gonzales
Jacqui Gonzales
3 years 8 months ago

I will admit, talking to people isn’t hard for me, so having a quick conversation with Cathy, the checker at Target this morning, was simple and painless. We discussed sleep patterns.

But I realize the point is to step out of your comfort zone, so I made a decision that starting today, I am doing a 29 day challenge to go slow carb and see how much weight I can drop before my 30th birthday. My goal is 29 lbs in those 29 days, putting me under 200 for my birthday.

Ben
Ben
3 years 8 months ago
I was standing in line for a comedy show and struck up a covno with the cute girl next to me. “hi, is this the line for the comedy show?” Yes, the doors are not open yet”. We chatte back an forth for a few minuets. I complimented her on her shirt “I like your shirt, the key pattern is something I’ve never seen before”. “thank you, it’s from old navy believe it or not”. When we entered she invited me to sit with he and her friends. All in all it was pretty good success. This stuff works you… Read more »
Saul Medina
Saul Medina
3 years 8 months ago

…. I accidently pressed the publish button. Well what i was going to write was that my co-worker approved the task i completed for them. But still I want to take on this challenge outside of my job and try to speak to a random stranger that does not work in the same company I do this way i can try to start a converaation that does not have to do with my work. I will let you all know how it goes.

Sandra Hirsch
Sandra Hirsch
3 years 8 months ago
My kids have always told me that I’ll talk to anyone which is probably true. I find it easier to talk to strangers than it is to talk to those closer to me which is not good either. I talk to hundreds of people sometimes a day in my job (face to face) and have no problems instigating the conversations. I also need my alone time and down time to recharge. I’m trying to become more inner focused vs outer focused because that is how I have always been and it hasn’t gotten me very far. I need to learn… Read more »
Timothy
3 years 8 months ago
I went to the Verizon store to pick up a replacement charger for my fiancee’s phone, and I spoke to an off-duty, middle aged, black security guard who homeschools his children. For perspective, I am a white, 20 year old game designer. There are a lot of hurdles here. I told him that I design games and that they can be used in all sorts of different applications. I told him that I thought that games might even hold the key to skyrocketing his kids’ motivation and information retention from within his homeschooling framework, citing friends of mine who are… Read more »
JoAnne
JoAnne
3 years 8 months ago

I’m not unsubscribing! I just recently found your site a few weeks ago and have learned so much and am already applying things to my life, like setting small goals and be specific about when to accomplish them. The next step is reading your book. I don’t usually post or comment on my results but this post/email has inspired me to get more involved. Thanks for all you do and how helpful you are!

JoAnne
JoAnne
3 years 8 months ago
Here’s a follow up to my comment on what I did. I went to the grocery store and was inside going to get a cart. Turns out a bunch of the carts were stuck together and hard to get apart. So I started unhooking them and as several people came in to get carts too I’d give them the cart I’d just freed. Some came up and I offered them a cart, they took it and said thanks. Then one guy came over and I tried to give him a cart but it was especially stuck. We worked together to… Read more »
Marchell
Marchell
3 years 8 months ago

For some reason this morning I had the elevator all to myself until the 20th floor. A striking younger woman got on and I simply said good morning to break the ice. She responded and I complimented her freshly polished nails of bright white. We had a great conversation for several floors and parted ways. If I see her again, we can at least acknowledge each other as acquaintances instead of strangers.

I will definitely be talking to more people using minor conversation starters (scripts) because this is much too easy!

Roxanna
Roxanna
3 years 8 months ago
Valuable exercise Ramit! I was lucky enough to have a Grandma that taught me this skill in childhood. We traveled Europe in the summer and she befriended everyone. What she did was as simple as saying, “Hello. What made you decide to come here today? Or she would ask for directions/ recommendations (restaurants, shows, etc). She would complement clothes. Her favorite was blatant eavesdropping, apologizing for it and interjecting her own comments. No matter what tactic she used, they all worked b/c people love to talk. I copied her as a child. I dropped a pencil purposely by another student’s… Read more »
grace
grace
3 years 8 months ago

did number one yesterday on the bus to a stranger holding a dog. turns out to be this crazy mix but it looked like a chihuahua! it got everyone around me talking and I got off knowing I did my job.

Rosie
Rosie
3 years 8 months ago
Thank you for bringing wisdom and inspiring action to our 2013! This is always a good exercise. I am good at it sometimes, but not in the situations in which I’m really shy (striking up conversation with men, networking when it matters, etc.) I plan to do this exercise one or two more times today, but I started simple with complimenting the girl in front of me in line on her socks. Simple, but these are the kind of interactions that make you feel good because compliments bring smiles to other people’s faces. That always makes me happy and more… Read more »
Mike Alcazaren
3 years 8 months ago
Spoke with the attendant at the laundromat today, she was super friendly I’m sure I brightened her day. Had the day off today, and was reading your book (my Christmas present to myself) and ended up putting it down 35 pages into it, and actually getting into action. I was able to raise my credit limit, increase my credit score to get a better rate on my car loan. (saves me $1500) It also helped to keep track of conversations on a spreadsheet for future reference. Hopefully the next 35 pages get me into as much action as this first… Read more »
EB
EB
3 years 8 months ago

I feel kind of smug, because as someone with lifelong social anxiety issues, this is actually a project that I undertook last year. It was really hard at first, but the more you do it, the easier it gets.

Learning how to do this has had a huge ongoing impact on my day-to-day life. Once you can strike up these little conversations with ease, you find that they actually give you a little boost. That will sound weird to my fellow introverts, I know, but it’s true.

James
James
3 years 8 months ago

I’m a rather outgoing person by nature, so I don’t normally have issues talking to strangers.

However this morning when I got into the office I made a point to swing by one of the SR team members desk and introduce myself. We’ve never officially met before and this was a nice ice breaking.

Sarah
Sarah
3 years 8 months ago

I do not usually have a problem talking to strangers, but I will try to do so tomorrow when I arrive to the UK.
People there are not so friendly and make it hard to start a conversation with them.

Sarah
Sarah
3 years 8 months ago
I started a conversation with the man sitting next to me in the airplane. I first thanked him for helping me with my luggage and then asked him where he was from. I asked him about several things and we talked for a few minutes. I was studying about electrons in the airplane and I wanted to ask him about something that I did not understand because he is an electrical engineer. However, I was afraid that one of us might get embarrassed so I decided not to ask that question. I take back everything I said about British people… Read more »
Clare Maney
Clare Maney
3 years 8 months ago
I was at a bar last night for a friend’s birthday, and I knew going into it that I had not met most of her other friends. I was admittedly very nervous walking into the situation alone, and afraid that she may be one of the only people talking to me the entire night. I sucked it up pretty quickly, however, and started my first conversation with another guy at the table about how I never know what to order when I get myself a drink (or if someone asks me). We proceeded to have a very in-depth conversation about… Read more »
Donna M
Donna M
3 years 8 months ago

I was walking my dog and started a conversation with a senior citizen on his walk. Seniors are great people to have conversations with. They are not in a hurry and are happy for the attention. We ended up talking for awhile.
The weather is always an easy conversation starter. I live by a river and we have been seeing eagles lately. It is exciting to see and also a good conversation starter.

Ryan Gooler
Ryan Gooler
3 years 8 months ago
This is something I do a lot, actually. Especially on public transit. Pretty easy to find someone to talk to on a commute-crowded train. Last random person I talked to (wednesday) started with a joke along the lines of “Y’know, when the conductor announces that they’re closing the door, someone with a nerf bat should run down the length of the train, and give a good few whacks to anyone blocking the doors.” Got a great laugh, learned this random person had an awesome Scottish accent, and we spent the next fifteen minutes joking back and forth. And, for the… Read more »
Michelle
Michelle
3 years 8 months ago

I attended an industry forum yesterday with a goal of meeting 3 new people. Met 5 and 2 have already reached out to me. Discussions started a bit slow but once we found a common ground, besides the obvious industry connection, it worked.

Tess Graham
3 years 8 months ago
I decided to ask the produce manager of my grocery store how to choose the best avocados and whether they sell more organic or regular. I buy avocados every week and I hate when the organic ones have a lot of rotten spots in them because they cost so much more. He told me not to be afraid of the green ones that haven’t turned to black yet and said that for his money, he’d just buy the regular as they’re more reliably edible. He also gave me 10 less ripe avocados that he picked for me and marked them… Read more »
Zephyr
Zephyr
3 years 8 months ago

I had been trying to do this before I read this post, so I kind of implemented it yesterday.Just sat down at a Starbucks, and smiled at the girl across from me because she had been looking at me.She smiled back and we struck up a conversation.Only thing is, she didn’t say anything to me when she left.

Allison
Allison
3 years 8 months ago
So I thought I would be really good at this because I love talking to people, but this came as a challenge to me. This morning, while on the T in Boston, I saw a woman wearing these boots that I have been DYING to purchase. So I figured here goes nothing and gushed about how I loved her boots and where I could get them. I felt kind of childish based on the look on her face but after a few seconds of shock that someone was talking on the T, she told me that she got them half… Read more »
Andrea
Andrea
3 years 8 months ago
Perhaps it’s because I was raised in the Midwest, where everyone talks to strangers; perhaps it’s because I have deep roots in the South, where Charm is an ACLU Division 1 sport; but in either case, I find that striking up a very rewarding, nonthreatening conversation with a stranger is easy. Here’s the thing to remember about starting a conversation with anybody, not just with strangers: it’s not about you. If you can forget about how -you- feel, what other people are going to think about -you-, what -your- issues are, whether other people are going to reject -you- and… Read more »
Arif
3 years 8 months ago
I usually start my conversations with storekeepers with one of these two lines – a) Do you get good business?, b) Do you own the place or rent it? These two questions are enough to get me subsequent details like how much rent or property value is in that particular area, type of customers they get, the peak and off periods, the seasonal variations, their investment, values, problems, competition and other such information. However, it is usually after I have been their customer for the first time or after appreciating their wares or services even if didn’t buy anything from… Read more »
Jerry Getz
Jerry Getz
3 years 8 months ago
Dear Ramit, This issue has NEVER been my problem. I do this ALL THE TIME because I have understood from a very young age the importance of this. I have accomplished countless things this way in my life. So I was feeling a little cocky, and like this particular thing did not apply to me. I have PLENTY of other issues that need to change, just not this one, right? Well, I thought about it some more and came to a realization. One can ALWAYS do better, learn something, be more effective. So, I decided to approach at least one… Read more »
Susan Kelly
Susan Kelly
3 years 8 months ago

Great story. I liked it a lot.

Allan
Allan
3 years 8 months ago

I was at at a small event for 3-4 year old kids and their parents to watch a family Christmas movie to practice for real movie theaters. It had talking dogs in it. I told the mother next to me that they must have gone through alot of peanut better to film that movie. the woman could barely watch that show after that. every time a dog talked she couldn’t stop laughing.

Kathryn
Kathryn
3 years 8 months ago

I struck up a conversation with one of the janitors while I was getting water in the office kitchen this morning. Normally it’s cliche to talk about the weather, but the fact that it’s going to be over 60 degrees tomorrow, in the midwest, in January, was definitely a good conversation starter today!

Joe
Joe
3 years 8 months ago

Started conversation with an old man walking down the street. Went for the classic British go-to subject, the weather! “Hi, it’s freezing today isn’t it, wish I had a coat like yours!”
I learnt that he is 92yrs old, and “I tell you, once you hit 90 you can forget it, that’s when everything starts to go. I’ve had enough now me son, sooner I’m up there the better” . Made my day!

erin
erin
3 years 8 months ago

Started a conversation with a woman at the resort I work at about how slow the buses are. We chatted til it came and resulted in some laughs and it was nice. Trick is to actually listen, and questions follow naturally. A lot of people can’t just listen. What’s next for homework? 🙂

Alyson
Alyson
3 years 8 months ago
Today I had an interview with a particular private college to discuss scholarship options. I have a twin and a little sister, and my parents can only afford to send one. Fortunately, I’m in the top 2% at my school of over 2,000 and I am a pretty good track athlete and gymnast. I have very poor speaking skills in new situations, as this was. I was wondering if you could post some more skills on improving social skills in general. I have improved dramatically in particular situations, but many I still struggle with. (Btw I have negotiate it! Love… Read more »
Karen St
Karen St
3 years 8 months ago
Absolutely agree with CathyO! The easiest thing is to get people talking about themselves. At the end of the conversation, no matter how long or short, you walk away from it leaving the other person feeling that you were interested in them. As a result they feel positive about YOU – a great result in any circumstance, but even better if you are in networking-mode. I don’t have any trouble striking up conversations with strangers (quite the opposite, in fact!), but in the last year I made it my motto to “not just think it, but say it.” This is… Read more »
Eva
3 years 8 months ago
I once got hit on while reading I Will Teach You to Be Rich on the subway in New York. I was an easy target since I was reading a neon yellow book. He asked what it was about, and I said “personal finance,” and then he stared at me with nothing else to say. I was really enjoying the book. I love Ramit, I read his blog. I’m constantly trying to get my friends to set up automatic deposits in their savings accounts. All he needed to ask was why I liked the book, listen, ask follow up questions,… Read more »
Alena
Alena
3 years 8 months ago

I have absolutely no problem talking to strange/foreign/new/unknown people.
Rather I consider more challenging NOT talking to everybody around, who seems interesting to me at the moment, because sometimes me talking to strangers is considered offensive and inappropriate.

jennie
jennie
3 years 8 months ago
I asked a man who was doing nerve conduction tests on my arm if he enjoyed his work, expecting him to say yes and talk about what he does. His answer was no not really. This made me laugh and ask why he did it then. This developed into a conversation about it just being a job and what we each would like to do if we could have any ‘job’. My work as a nurse means that I am introducing myself to new people all day long and having to develop rapport and trust quickly. This man was different… Read more »
cheetobuzz
cheetobuzz
3 years 8 months ago
hmm,I’ve actually used two of the lines you brought up to start conversations,and to get an overall picture about what was going on in a particular area at the time. I use a mixture of 2 and 3 a lot,with very mixed results.Some people go into detail and explain the whole book,and tend to be fond of using comparisons to back up why they love it.Others just give short answers,don’t seem to be fond of me asking for further details(often telling me to ‘get a copy and read it myself’)and tend to move away from me or leave.Much prefer people… Read more »
Sean Donahue
Sean Donahue
3 years 8 months ago

I’m a radio personality and this what makes the difference between a good personality and a great one.

Sometimes broadcasting from a remote you are forced to talk to people who know everything about you, but you don’t know anything about them.

If you just say hi and start a conversation, you become “their favorite DJ” because you cared.

C
C
3 years 8 months ago

This wasn’t a hard one for me as I’m fairly social, however, I’m looking forward to our next challenge.

Colleen
Colleen
3 years 8 months ago
I did this just the other night. Worked late and went to a new restaurant to order take-out to bring home. I was by myself. I decided rather than call in an order, to go there, look at the menu, have a glass of wine and wait for my order. While sitting at the bar, the gentleman next to me was having a conversation with the bartender. I noticed my tendency to check my emails on my phone, text my friends and decided I wasn’t going to be the solo person at the bar burying my face in the phone… Read more »
Erin
Erin
3 years 8 months ago

I do this often. I am just one of those people. I have been known to talk to strangers my whole life. Its not starting conversations with anyone – it’s starting them with the right people and then staying engaged or keeping them engaged has been the issue.

Melissa
Melissa
3 years 8 months ago
So I’m not exactly an extroverted person…I like to read and play video games and hang out at home. That being said I work Customer Service at Walmart. Every person that comes into my line I have a unique conversation with, mainly so they think “Oh what a nice young lady” and don’t start yelling if I have to tell them no for whatever it is they are trying to return. Just last night I had a woman returning a product and I amazingly knew all about it. We talked for 5 minutes about grandkids and the product and she… Read more »
Virginia
Virginia
3 years 8 months ago
I had to go to the UPS store, where I ended up standing in line for nearly half an hour. There was one worker to take care of everyone, and no matter how fast he went, the line kept getting longer. When it was my turn, I struck up a conversation with him by saying “Busy day today, huh?” and smiling. This was enough to get him talking uninterrupted for the next 3 minutes. He told me how hard it was to run the place by himself, and how unprofessional he felt it was for UPS to understaff the store… Read more »
Kevin
Kevin
3 years 8 months ago
This gave me a kick in the butt to be sociable this AM at the office! (I often find myself lost in my own thoughts around the office rather than interacting much with other people, for example.) So, in the breakroom, I struck up a conversation with an employee I didn’t know and asked whether she was attending the company holiday party tonight. It went OK and we had a brief chat, but next time I’ll try one of the examples you gave (asking a person holding a book, walking their dog, etc.) about that item and see if that… Read more »
Roberta
Roberta
3 years 8 months ago

I recently volunteered to work at the SPCA section of Petco. I spoke to every person who stopped in to look at the cats who were there for adoption. I’m very much an introvert, but this was easy.

One, it’s very easy to talk about mutual interests.

Two, EVERYONE, has a story to tell.

Three, EVERYONE, wants to be listened to with genuine interest and respect.

Lisa
Lisa
3 years 8 months ago

What the hell? Are you out of your MIND?
“Pet lovers are so deprived of normal human contact that all they want to do is talk about their pets to anybody who will listen.”
first question: What is wrong with this comment?
second question: What is wrong with you?

Lisa
Lisa
3 years 8 months ago

If this is truly your belief, I can see why you do. Very inaccurate and narrow minded of you. I would love to see/hear of the research you’ve done to come to this conclusion.

Darryl
Darryl
3 years 8 months ago

Met a new guy who just joined the company. Talked a little about his role and what area is his focus. After a couple of exchanges I told him that if he wanted to meet anyone in the company to let me know. I actually like meeting new people and serving as an infrmation broker for intros and resources.

Thanks for the challenge. It has been acceptes and completed. Cheers and great weekend all.

SriV
SriV
3 years 8 months ago

Ramit, just before reading this email, I just had a conversation with the coffeeshop guy who is a stranger but not exactly the first time we have seen each other…he said you look worried many times…it actually made me smile:). Maybe i used to go to his coffeeshop whenever i got stressed and my face showed it!!
Anyway something to think abt.

Dasha
3 years 8 months ago
Ramit I read your post on the bus from mykachevo to ushgorod. These are towns in Carpathian region in Ukraine. Post reading your post I surveyed the bus for my unsuspecting victim. Conviently the bus stopped to pick up a passanger. I moved my bag to allow the girl to have a seat and moved in for the kill. Me(m): hey are you going to ushgorod? Girl (g): No. #shaking her head. M: is it far to ushgorod? G: no maybe an hour. M: where abouts are you headed? G: Rusich ( I think she said this as she is… Read more »
Joel
Joel
3 years 8 months ago

After years of not playing basketball, I decided to go to the courts and jump in on a pick up game. After the game, I sat down and watched the next one play out. One of the players was on a streak and as I notice that, I tell the guy next to me, “Wow, he’s just on a roll isn’t he?” From there, we break into conversation about him playing here often, New Year’s parties, etc. It felt good being able to build rapport with a stranger.

Frank
Frank
3 years 8 months ago

Being a dentist, I talk to lots of folks from all walks of life.
Despite that, I still feel awkward when someone bluntly ignores my kind remarks on a party or a formal occasion.
This has led me to use questions like: ‘do you feel a bit left out to?’
When even that doesn’t strike a note, I veer to the next person in sight.

The tips Ramit mentions do actually work, or any other lines. As long as you practice. A lot.

Nicole O'Shea
Nicole O'Shea
3 years 8 months ago

used number 5 in the supermarket checkout line – “Is today a busy day?,” and learned that it was, but not as bad as later, and when when the celebrities come in to shop (late night) and that the the cashier is really into juicing and green smoothies. Mostly listened after the original question; drove the conversation by asking more questions related to whatever he said and what popped into my mind.

SisterSage
SisterSage
3 years 8 months ago
My friend and I were recently at a restaurant, BBQ’s to be exact, and we noticed our server was a little unenthused. When she returned to our table, I asked her was she okay. She said she was having relationship issues and that there were a few people intensifying the pressure she was under. Well I took the time to give her some advice, gave her my business card if she ever wanted to talk, and doubled her tip. Having conversations with strangers is rather effortless for me, but looking forward to your next challenge Ramit, ciao for now.
Angie
Angie
3 years 8 months ago
Ah, Ramit, you’re emails make me giggle. A few of your readers seemingly know how to be great conversationalists already! Cathy pointed out that people love to talk about themselves, and this is often true. The second, as I’m sure you know, is to just BE INTERESTED, People are worlds within worlds; we can learn something from almost everyone. I love your testing approach, Ramit. I am a newcomer to your blog, etc, and really appreciate your “go get ’em” attitude. I have always believed that we are our own best test subjects…for anything and everything, including ways of thinking… Read more »
Angie
Angie
3 years 8 months ago

Fail..your emails make me giggle…not you’re.

And to Eva above, the guy was clearly intimidated. Ramit – why do you think so many guys seem intimidated by women who take control of their lives?

Kerry
3 years 8 months ago

Thank you Ramit, your post made my day.

I can’t tell you a story about talking to a stranger today, but I’m comfortable with that anyway (business networking has helped), although I didn’t realise it was unusual to be a pet owner who is far from deprived of normal human contact!

Anyway, I look forward to your next instruction and wonder if that will take me out of my comfort zone and push me further in the right direction.

Kerry

Tracy
Tracy
3 years 8 months ago

I talk to strangers all the time, precisely because it doesn’t come naturally to me and I don’t like the feeling of being limited by fear of something that isn’t really worthy of fear. That said, today I will try to ask a question of a stranger because I’m not sure if that is what I usually do or not.

Joe
3 years 8 months ago

I struck up a conversation with a guy at the beach about how the water was cooler than it was a week ago. It’s always awkward starting a conversation with a stranger but I think the trick is to just act like it’s natural – fake it till you make it.

Tiffany
Tiffany
3 years 8 months ago

Ramit – I talked to a random guy doing yard work next door and asked about whether plastic or brass hose fixtures are best. (Brass wins, for all sorts of dumb reasons no one cares about.) This was a great first challenge, but I have to say I talk to strangers all the time. I don’t recall ever making a conscious decision to do this, but now I can talk to anyone. Meth head, CEO, whoever.

Carter
3 years 8 months ago
While I do have some shyness and conversation issues, I don’t have issues at all with shooting the… bull with random people throughout the day. A couple examples of how far I’ve come since high school (I was a nerd AND a Boy Scout AND I went to private school, you tell ME how you think junior and high school went for me). – I was in HEB shopping the heck out the store (I racked up almost $300 at the register and it’s just me and the wife. Hey, someone has to make the homemade protein bars, rosemary pistachio… Read more »
sumaiya
sumaiya
3 years 8 months ago
I called out to a woman walking down the hallway where I work temporarily (so I know no one, this is my first week) who was carrying a box that she looked like she was about to throw away. I was in the process of organizing and cabinet full of supplies and thought I could use it to conserve space. She gave it to me. Later, I ended up giving her a box, and then after some chatting, she gave me a box of cookies that I decided to share with my group by leaving it next to the coffee… Read more »
Dorothy
3 years 8 months ago
I have the opposite problem, my friends and family complain that I talk to everyone. It doesn’t occur to me to not to. Grocery store clerks, folks in line, you name it. In fact I’m apparently so approachable that I get asked all the time about ingredients in grocery stores. Once I could tell a woman wanted my attention and I averted my eyes and started walking really fast because I didn’t want to be bothered and she sped up to block me and asked me the difference between heavy cream and regular cream. Which I could answer. So now… Read more »
Barbe
3 years 8 months ago
This exercise is no-brainier for me, i’m one of those “people” that can and does talk to everyone from the homeless guy to the big CEO. Just this weekend i saw saw some guys filing a dumpster in front of a neighbors house. I wallk up, introduced myself and asked if I could have a piece of wood I saw sticking out. They were very nice and while ta lking with them i foind out they were from the same small town as my sister is living at in the other side of the state. So in addition to the… Read more »
Nanci Armstrong-Temple
Nanci Armstrong-Temple
3 years 8 months ago
Thanks for this post Ramit, and for all the emails and resources. I have never had much trouble starting conversations, but I have some other problems that sometimes make it difficult to follow up and make contact (lack of self esteem, negativity, bad habits, limited time and income–full time student, parent of 5 year old twins, entrepreneur and just left my asshole husband). I have been working on changing some bad habits (worked out twice this week, meditating and watching motivational videos/reading motivational materials daily, skills building, following through with client emails, scheduling, went to some classes I’ve been meaning… Read more »
Jan
Jan
3 years 8 months ago

Actually I just got a new job in the best advertising agency in my country after being unemployed for the last 4 months. I’m in my 20s and I know that I got the job mostly because of what I read on this site. I’m introvert and this challenge was quite a test for me in this new environment. That being said, I tried some of these right away and almost instantly connected to those people. Now it’s not just awkward hello in the hallway its couple of words and it feels great.

JJ
JJ
3 years 8 months ago
I find talking to strangers pretty effortless, but I went ahead and struck up a conversation with a woman at the bus stop this morning anyway, just to show I’m a team player here. I do find it less worthwhile to talk to men. 9 times out of 10 when I intiate a conversation with a guy, he treats it as an opportunity to hit on me. I’ve tried a lot of different things over the years, including tricks like asking where he bought his (shoes, breifcase, etc.) because I want to buy something similar for my boyfriend’s birthday, or… Read more »
Seth
Seth
3 years 8 months ago

Was at my bank depositing some money and noticed the banker’s nametag had “Military Veteran” in really small print. Struck up a conversation about it. I learned that he is an arctic commando, how to build the perfect snow shelter, and that he desired to start a business with housing. I directed him to this site.

Andrea
Andrea
3 years 8 months ago
I’m a math nerd pretty much from the word go. Years ago I was tired of being an awkward loner, and I started taking to people. I talk to them in line at the grocery store, in the locker room at the gym, standing on street corners waiting cross, passing people walking their pets on the street…where ever. At first it was PAINFUL. But I got good at it. And people LOVE LOVE LOVE to be seen and asked about themselves. My boyfriend has commented several times how people now often just start talking to me (particularly children, which is… Read more »
Andrea
Andrea
3 years 8 months ago
Had a great chat with the receptionist at the salon last night, but that didn’t really push me into new territory. This morning I was running with a group I often join on Saturday mornings. I tend to chat with the people I know. So today I chose to run with a guy who was new to the group. We ran the first 4 miles together, and talking with me encouraged him to run further than he has ever run before. It was fun talking with someone new, and turns out he’s a hardware engineer at a large company here.… Read more »
LP
LP
3 years 8 months ago

I find it easier in non pressure situations – so I started practicing in places when out and about: the cleaners, cobbler, the checkout, etc. I’ve kept it simple and that seems to work for me.

Anastazy
3 years 8 months ago
Hello Ramit, Thank you for posting this brilliant piece. Not because it’s excellent (you know it is), but because this assignment triggered an invisible script in my head, and luckily I was able to spot it in time. The thought was: “I work in sales. I don’t need to talk to strangers. I talk to them everyday. Let’s just sit here and have a nice evening.” My mind was tricking me to do nothing. Sure – I do talk to strangers everyday. But there is a full environment that makes it easy for me to do so. Your assignment is… Read more »
Joel
Joel
3 years 8 months ago
Well, this post was a big call-out to me. I’ve been reading IWT for about at least a year now, but I’ve never responded to anything, never put anything into practice. Basically, I was one of those people Ramit rails on about all the time. I’m also not someone who makes small talk with people I don’t know. But no more! I recently started a new job, and I don’t really know many people yet, so today I struck up a conversation with the person who sits next to me. We had a great conversation about how she liked working… Read more »
Philippe
Philippe
3 years 8 months ago
I’m not goin’ to try this, not unless I come across a situation where I actually want to do so. Over the years I approached strangers in such a way many times but I don’t see a point in trying to become more socially apt. I spent a lot of effort over the years trying to do just that and although it did help me in a way, I don’t see that it’s really been productive. I actually thought to myself lately that I would not deny who I am anymore. I am a person who totally loves being with… Read more »
Justine
Justine
3 years 8 months ago

I started a conversation with someone who was wandering around my office. I said “hey are you here for blah, blah, blah meeting.” We got to talking and I found out he’s head of our companies marketing department. Gave me a list of 4 people I should talk to and said feel free anytime I want to talk about MarCom to give him a a call.

Felipe
Felipe
3 years 8 months ago
Hi, I´m from Ecuador and my job is to complete a Software Development in Panama. The clients are financial institutions and I work with a team of developers and some IT consultants. Usually the conversations start reviewing the errors, followed by some accusations to the “criminal”. After some rounds we finish assigning tasks to each member and wait to next encounter. Today I tried to change a little after reading Ramit´s post, so I begin asking some light questions about Panama, the Canal and the construction boom. So as a first test I discovered that it´s much better to show… Read more »
Marjory
Marjory
3 years 8 months ago
Took my ususal yoga class. Spent an hour and a half just 3 feet away from a total stranger doing all kinds of poses and stretches. After the class, but before we had gotten up, I commented to her how it was a great class and that I felt good. We shared what was challenging (hurting) and what felt good. I asked if she went to any of the other classes this studio offers. Turns out that she knows this particular instructor from a college program that they both are enrolled in. The conversation continued on pleasantly in various direction… Read more »
Greg P
Greg P
3 years 8 months ago
I’m currently in Seattle for business, so last night I was out at one of preferred bars in the area. Ran into a bartender I know, spoke with him for a few and then his waitress and I struck up a conversation about her school work, philosophy and other random odds and ends. Ended up picking up a book we spoke about as well. Also ended up striking up conversations with others that popped in with a simple head nod and asking how there day was. Disclaimer: in the past, I’ve had major issues striking up conversations with others, to… Read more »
Dr. Erasmus Chirume
Dr. Erasmus Chirume
3 years 8 months ago
It’s easy for me to start a conversation with anybody I choose to talk to. I am an Academic Black man from Africa. I have friends from all over the world. I enjoy conversing with young and middle aged, like-minded males from all across class lines and cultures of the world. Recently, I had a conversation with a Caucasian middle aged male in a coffees hop Marion Ohio. We became friends in an instant. This friend of mine directs a missionary group of Americans who visit Haiti from time to time to provide an education service that encompasses a grades… Read more »
Laura
3 years 8 months ago

I did one better than a stranger — I work for a manufacturing company with a lot of engineer types, most of them are pretty introverted. I’ve worked here for three years and I don’t know half of these people’s names. Today I spoke to three of them, after looking shocked they smiled and were pretty friendly. I’m going to do attempt to do this with all my coworkers I haven’t really spoken to yet, I had been waiting for THEM to speak to ME. Why wait?

Great challenge!

Andrea
Andrea
3 years 8 months ago

Haha! Love this post, Laura. I work in the engineering department of a manufacturing company…so I know exactly what you mean. Everyone avoids engineering like the plague. Kudos to you.

Last year I decided to make it a point to make lunch plans with women in other departments in our company. It’s really helped break the ice and now when something is going on in sales or materials, I often get called for input from the engineering perspective. I think opening up that communication has made us all more effective.

Mike B
Mike B
3 years 8 months ago
I’m typically very polite and make small talk with strangers often but rarely try to take it further into a conversation. I’m in begas for a big tradeshow and decided to go to an oxygen bar and try and strike up a conversation with the girl working the booth. She was great! It was supposed to be a 10 minute session and I hung out with her for over a half hour. She had some kind of electro massager which shocks your muscles which put on my back but then she put more on me just for fun and purposely… Read more »
Connie
Connie
3 years 8 months ago
I talked to the clerk at Wal-Mart as she was ringing up my stuff. I looked at her and asked her how she was. She said OK. Then I said, you look tired today. Then she opened up and told me that her dog died this week and she was really upset about it. She started telling me all kinds of personal stuff about her and the dog. Finally the customer behind me got impatient and started making huffing noises for us to move along. So I tried to break it off and leave and she just kept talking to… Read more »
Sue
3 years 8 months ago
I don’t have a problem talking to people; I actually like it. Today I had a furniture delivery and while talking to the guy bringing the stuff in, I found out that he can carry heavy shit alone and has been doing this for 29 years. Nice guy and it was good to develop a rapport as 2 ottomans had scratches in the leather and wobbled. His initial reaction [company policy, I imagine] was to comfort me by saying that the repair department will be notified and come out to see if the issues were fixable. I didn’t want to… Read more »
Matthew Smith
3 years 8 months ago

I talked to a woman at COSI while we waited for food. I saw she was agitated that her to-go order was taking way too long (like mine). I said “This is the slowest fast-food, ever, right?” And then she vented about how much work she had to do, etc. and we laughed about it being a first world problem.

Finding a context for starting a conversation works. Good challenge, man.

Tatiana
Tatiana
3 years 8 months ago
Hey Ramit! I was excited that I got your newsletter because I really, really love actionable steps and knowing what to expect (more or less) after/when I do something. I like things to be pretty clear cut and dry instead of having nebulous results or reasons for doing things. So this was great. I just got back from a luncheon that my room mate invited me too. There were some people I knew (mostly through my room mate) but a lot of people I didn’t. The whole time I kept thinking of your e-mail so I struck up a conversation… Read more »
Kim
Kim
3 years 8 months ago
A conversation that started from a coffee mug: I noticed a man had coffee mug with a paper insert that said, “Daddy’s Mug”and had pictures of two young children. I asked how old his kid’s were and where he got the fun mug. He told me it was a Christmas gift from his wife and kids and how old his kids were (3 years and 4 months). We talked a bit about age spacing between kids, introducing a older sibling to a new baby, changes in parenting a second child, etc. We ended up our conversation talking about the importance… Read more »
Gail
Gail
3 years 8 months ago

I said to the cashier, “Hi, how are you? He said, “Fine, how are you?” I said, “My motto is if nothing hurts and everything works, it’s a good day,” inwardly priding myself on my good attitude. He said, “I have pain everyday. My motto is if I wake up, it’s a good day.” Then I noticed the braces on his legs. I was humbled! He is awesome!

Brad
Brad
3 years 8 months ago

I went beyond my usual standard line of asking my airport taxi driver how herday was and instead decided to dig deeper. We spent the entire 20 minute ride talking about how unique the Las Vegas taxi industry is compared to other cities. The discussion involved stories about corruption, the mob, and the millions of dollars that are made by a few choice companies. It was an enjoyable and insightful conversation about something I never knew about before.

Di
Di
3 years 8 months ago
Well, Today after giving a spin class, I saw a guy cycling solo on a spin-bike. I approached him and told him the time the class starts and said I want to see him in class next-week. This wa totally out of character for me! I don’t ever try and approach guys at the gym, no matter what, but somehow I felt he would benefit more from his exercise under my guidance and challenging routine. I really want to start a business in this line. I’ve been in the industry for almost 15 years now. I think I have a… Read more »
Lars T.
Lars T.
3 years 8 months ago
I talk to strangers all the time, and it’s one of my favorite things to do. 1) Last night was looking at a real estate office window near my house. They have listings on the window with asking prices. I like to gauge the market, always praying it goes up:) An older couple stopped to look too. I joked about what they thought about the prices (This is Silicon Valley). They joked back about how they bought a long time ago so the market is still good to them. I gave them a pained look and wished it was the… Read more »
Sara
Sara
3 years 8 months ago

Starting up small talk is pretty easy. It hardly ever leads anywhere though. I chat with cashiers, the guy at my fav takeout place, people on the elevator, my colleagues. I started up a conversation in the elevator this morning at work. It ended when I reached my floor. The person you’re chatting with has to be in the same frame of mind as you, wanting to chat and make a personal connection. Otherwise you get blown off.

Liz
3 years 8 months ago

I chatted up my ATT rep on the phone today for about 20 min, at the end of the conversation he got rid of the fee I was calling about and miraculously my bill also decreased by $12 bucks.

bob
bob
3 years 8 months ago
Hey, I kinda like talking to strangers, but I realized that that wasn’t going to happen today unless I changed my plans. I forced myself to go out to Starbucks (win!) and talk to a stranger. A random guy gets in line behind me and I say “Good day for coffee”, as it is kinda cool and rainy here. He smiled and agreed. I followed with “I thought it was going to get warmer”. He said, “Tomorrow will be better, maybe 60.” “Wow! In January”? I replied. We both thought that was great. I got my coffee and we wished… Read more »
Darren
3 years 8 months ago

I’m a shy developer making myself go to an Affiliate Marketing conference this weekend (Affiliate Summit West). It’s all about networking and going to fancy parties (Masquerade Ball, etc). I have a bunch of meetings lined up with some big companies. All of this is well out of my comfort zone. So I’m staying on your list! Hopefully I’ll have some stories for you when the conference is done.

Darren
3 years 8 months ago

I’m in Vegas sitting at a bar. The conference doesn’t even start until tomorrow. However Ramit, I still feel like your standing right behind me pushing me to talk to people. No amusing stories yet but plenty of great conversations. Struck up a conversation with someone that happens to be a presenter at the conference.

Lisa
Lisa
3 years 8 months ago

I was walking downtown and while waiting at a red light, saw a woman carrying a camera I’ve been interested in buying. I said, “Excuse me, what do you think of that camera? I’ve been thinking about buying one.” She told me that it was a great camera and recommended that I get one for myself. Since we were both walking to different destinations, it was a short conversation, but pleasant and not at all awkward.

Pete
Pete
3 years 8 months ago

I donated blood today and overheard an individual say he had gotten a certificate for donating 10 gallons of blood. After I was finished I sat with him in the cantina and we talked at length. We went well past the 15 minute waiting period. It was an interesting conversation in that it was amazing how closely our lives had similar experiences.

Claire
3 years 8 months ago
So, tonight, I had to talk to the mother of a schoolmate of my son’s.. The had to came about because the girl in question had done something pretty dastardly concerning my son just before Christmas, and despite having been given the opportunity to apologise without involving her parents, had not taken it, and I had asked the grandmother yesterday to intervene… I did not know the mother, though I had vaguely seen her on the other side of the school. She initiated the contact this evening, so I did not have to go through that (though I actually find… Read more »
Kate
Kate
3 years 8 months ago
Six months ago, I moved to a town in which I knew not one person. I’ve done this before and think it’s exciting. Unlike before, this time I had a focused approach. I began networking and, my new dermatologist (that’s the first stop in a new town for a redhead) listened to my career strengths and suggested I meet a friend in a similar field. I met with her and she suggested I meet six people in different fields but whose work she respected. I met with each of those six people and asked who they believed were at the… Read more »
Bryan
3 years 8 months ago
I’ve received your emails for months and NEVER DID ANYTHING. Finally, I TOOK ACTION on your items today. Thank you! It was a great experience! Im a struggling freelancer and frequent a local coffee shop on my days off. I have a bit of anxiety today but took the challenge. I struck up a conversation with an older guy weaving a survival bracelet. I never understood what they did and why they are getting popular. I became genuinely interested. I learned they are a survival bracelet because although they fit around your wrist, if taken apart there is 15ft ft… Read more »
cindy
cindy
3 years 8 months ago

I tried starting up a conversation with the receptionist @ my vet. I used the “busy” script …she nodded , smiled and I was on my way….not a huge success….but they actually were pretty busy and she just didn’t have much time to talk.

Uko
3 years 8 months ago

We read with interest your assertion that:

“See, most people who write online have audiences with the intelligence of a snail”.

In a recent poll among members of our organisation, we found that 98% considered most readers of online content had an IQ at least one standard deviation below that of this much maligned, rarely homeless gastropod.

We respectfully request a retraction of the assertion that snails have an equivalent intelligence, when clearly their’s is superior.

Matt
Secretary
National Association for the Protection of Land-Borne Molluscs

M
M
3 years 8 months ago
I struck up conversation with a waiter with, “When you eat here, what do you order? If you don’t eat here, tell me why!” I said it with a grin. It got a good laugh and we talked about favorite foods and how to avoid bad Asian restaurants. In general, if it is someone who might be intimidated, then I go out of my way to be friendly and smile. Example, I am gentle and direct with people who interview with me for a job. Same goes for anyone I deal with in service industry. They are people like the… Read more »
Kevin
3 years 8 months ago
Something I did today and like to do in general: at the grocery store, I always end up talking to SOMEONE in the produce section with some of the dumbest opening lines ever: “I never know how to pick (fruit/vegetable)? You look like a pro, what’s your secret?” Or at the checkout counter I like to ask about things that I think they might be getting sick of: “So do you get sick of the music that plays here, or does it change often enough?” “What’s the weirdest thing someone’s ever tried to return?” Questions I’m genuinely curious about! I… Read more »
Josh
3 years 8 months ago

Commented to the gal behind me at Chipotle regarding the snow. She mentioned she wouldn’t be able to enjoy since she had to work that weekend but I kept the conversation about her and had the cajones to ask what she did for work (I would have stopped normally). Found out she was a tax-preparer and got some tax advice!

Nathan
Nathan
3 years 8 months ago

Just started a conversation with a lady and her kid at the my bank. I noticed her kid had a lift ticket to a ski place I had just been. I asked her how it was. We chatted for a little bit. It was a short and pleasant conversation.

James Bowen
James Bowen
3 years 8 months ago

I have a confession to make — I ask questions even when I am testing, and even when I think I know the answer. Because I want the validation of a smart person giving me the answer I was expecting. Sometimes they surprise me, and I learn something valuable.

Jarrod
Jarrod
3 years 8 months ago

I was at the gym and a group of Crossfitters was getting ready for their workout. I saw them setting up for deadlifts, so I asked them if they had any experience with the bar widening grips I have (they increase the effective diameter of the bar to increase the load on your grip). This led to a conversation about our respective routines and life in our area.

Anne Botha
3 years 8 months ago

Hey, took your push and applied it. Focused on speaking to one person and using one of your scripts to do. Easy entry and success gained! While grabbing food, I spoke to the person at the cash register. Felt a moment of pause, anxiety. Took a breath and just do it.

Rob
3 years 8 months ago
I’ve randomly seen this dude around my neighborhood. He gets on my bus a couple stops after me and gets off around where I get off. I just saw that he goes to my gym around the same time I do. I struck up a converstaion with him and found out that he does auditing for a major hotel chain. They fly him out to the individual locations and have him audit the hotels. When he gets back from his most recent business trip I’m going to invite him to a drink at a local bar and pick his brain… Read more »
Alex
Alex
3 years 8 months ago
Great tactics! I love striking up random conversations with people. Today in the elevator, I was standing next to a UPS delivery man. I said “Hey, how’s it going?” He replied with a very practiced smile and “I’m doing well, how are you today Ma’m?” To try and reach a more personal rather than professional interaction with him, I found a common point between us: We are both employees, and it’s Friday. I replied “I’m doing great – I’m so glad that it’s Friday!” He suddenly relaxed and agreed. By that time the elevator doors opened, and we wished each… Read more »
Sara
Sara
3 years 8 months ago
Talking to random strangers has never been a problem for me, but I don’t want to unsubscribe! So I made sure to approach a new person at a work meeting this morning and introduce myself. We had a nice conversation about work, and how early we all had to be there. I also wanted to share my favorite story on this subject. I went to college out of state, and did not know anyone when I arrived. I started introducing myself to every person around me in line (and there was a lot of waiting in line that week!). Everyone… Read more »
Sunah
Sunah
3 years 8 months ago

A fellow came into the salon where I was a customer and chose a National Geographic so I talked to him about his travel dreams. it was a certain amount of work to keep the convo going but we were both glad to talk about travel and made me more friendly going forward. I may add this to my regular Tuesda and Friday challenge routine.

Josh L.
Josh L.
3 years 8 months ago
Ramit, this is amazing. I’ve been reading your emails for a few months now and often started skimming when it felt like it got a bit sales-y (really puts me off). But this was genuine, funny, and you are getting me to take action. I will put this task into practice when I go out tomorrow (and not just one stranger, that’s not a stretch for me, I’ll go for at least 5 – public commitment 😉 ). I foresee that you continue to post awesome stuff like this, I keep take action, I see great results, and then I… Read more »
Chiraj Dalal
Chiraj Dalal
3 years 8 months ago
I was flying yesterday and started up a conversation with someone on the BART on the way to the airport. She looked just as anxious as I did and so I opened by asking her how late she was for her flight. We ended up being on the same flight and had a reasonably non-awkward conversation that lasted 7-10 minutes. The issue here was I didn’t know when to end it. I didn’t want to end up being viewed as creepy but I didn’t want to be impolite as well. I feel this issue may be specific to the male-female… Read more »
kevin
kevin
3 years 8 months ago
Before I even read this, I was in the drive-through at McDonalds this morning. The guy was having some trouble with his credit card reader, and he mumbled to himself “sometimes it wants to work, and sometimes it doesn’t”. I overheard him and said “I’m the same way!”. He had a good laugh about that. It wasn’t particularly valuable, but it does illustrate the point that it’s REALLY easy to say something. After reading the post, I was walking on the bike path near my office and a jogger was approaching, so I decided to say hi. I made eye… Read more »
Shannon T. Wilson
3 years 8 months ago
I’ve been doing my own experiment, which started by accident. While shopping for the holidays I started responding to a common question with an “uncommon” response. This uncommon, single word, response was so powerful that almost everyone would ask me additional questions upon hearing my reply (even my children wanted to why). As timing would have it about this same time I read some of Ramit’s work regarding experiments, so I started to test. I’ve named my experiment the Fantastic Experiment (#fantasticexperiment). The next time someone asks you “How are you?” respond with fantastic! Not good. Not OK. Not fine… Read more »
Yanna
Yanna
3 years 8 months ago

This is brilliant. I saw this done by someone I knew a long time ago and had completely forgotten about it. Thanks for the reminder! It’s effective not only in opening conversations but also in reminding one of all of the positive things one can be thankful for.

Matt
Matt
3 years 8 months ago
Thanks again Ramit. I say no. 5 (“is it a busy day”) every time I get my hair cut mostly to avoid staring uncomfortably into a mirror for 15 minutes. It’s amazing how easy a conversation can flow from there and the haircutter often has lots of interesting things to say about human behaviour in general and their business in particular. I’ll be sure to try some of the others. Recently I accidentally got an insight into how to encourage other people to start conversations…I’m learning to unicycle and nearly everybody who passes has an encouraging comment or stops to… Read more »
Phil
3 years 8 months ago
According to my wife, I do this all the time. She gets so annoyed with me and asks me how I do it. I tell her that it’s easy: most people are just like me – they have the same wishes, the same goals and the same fears. They may express them differently, but they all come from the same wellspring within us. And if people don’t want to be friendly, that’s fine. There’s no law saying that they have to be. It doesn’t make either of us bad perople. There are over 7 billion people in this world, so… Read more »
Mark Jacobs
Mark Jacobs
3 years 8 months ago

I spoke to a man from Brighton England at a pub in Ikebukuro, Japan. I introduced him to my little brother and we talked music for a little while, then he excused himself to go talk to his friends.It was my brothers last day in Japan, so I wanted to talk to him more anyway

Kirsten
3 years 8 months ago

I also tend to randomly talk to people; sometimes it leads somewhere, sometimes it doesn’t. This morning, I asked a woman in the elevator about her boots, and she said that she got them at Macy’s and then disappeared behind her phone. The girl at the car dealership last weekend was fascinating to talk to, though – we ended up looking up pole dancing school sites on our phones while I waited for my car to be serviced, and had a ball trying to find the most awful mobile site. 😀

Steve
Steve
3 years 8 months ago
I was in a garage today to get some work done on my car. Two guys were talking about front-end alignments and how certain tire stores do a bad job. When I got a chance, I asked one guy which tire store was that, even though I had heard the name of the store. We then had about a five minute conversation about tire stores, different garages, tire pressures related to front-end alignments, etc. I’m usually not one to initiate stuff like this, but I had just read this email before heading out, so I thought I’d try something. Thanks… Read more »
Monica
Monica
3 years 8 months ago
I own a rental property. This morning I was shoveling the walk. One of my tenants came out of the building. She said hello and asked me how I was doing. I usually would just say fine and keep my head down. Today I told her how much I hated winter and shoveling snow. She said she loves it, and finds shoveling meditative. She offered to keep the walks shoveled for me! She didn’t want any compensation! Granted she is not a complete stranger, but I really didn’t know much about her. We got talking, and it turns out we… Read more »
Tamara
Tamara
3 years 8 months ago

I think Cathy, way up there at the top of the comments, nailed it. Ask questions! People love to talk about themselves. I have a black lab and a gregarious four year old so it is pretty difficult to go anywhere and NOT meet strangers. I like Lliana’s approach of looking people in the eyes until they smile. People like to talk to happy people. It boosts their energy too. Assigning homework and keeping people responsible for doing it with a post actually makes your newsletter and program more attractive and personal.

Astrid
Astrid
3 years 8 months ago

I don’t usually have a problem striking up conversations with random strangers. Today, I chatted up a stranger about local taco trucks. I can always talk about food!

Naomi
Naomi
3 years 8 months ago
Well, thanks to my gene pool, this is one thing I ace it – I can talk to anyone, anywhere. Here’s one from earlier this week when I chatted to the man in the toy shop when I took my daughter in to spend her saved-up pocket money. His name is Andy; although camp he’s married with children; he’s absolutely lovely and he helped me find the perfect present for my sister’s birthday which was the last one left in the shop and I had it sale price too, although there was no sale label etc. For how not to… Read more »
Annie
3 years 8 months ago
I was having a spicy pork taco at the lunch counter of my favorite Mexican hole in the wall when a young guy (i’m in my 60s) walked in to order take out. He ordered a bagel with cream cheese, avocado, onion and tomato. I smiled and said,”that sounds like a good combination, do you usually order that”? He smiled, had a little trouble making eye contact, but said he does, and also said that my taco looked good, then said he doesn’t eat meat though he wished he could try Mexican food. I smiled and didn’t quite know what… Read more »
Alex ederer
3 years 8 months ago

I struck up a discussion with a subway musician who sits in a fake boat playing guitar. To find out that his joy in life emanates from the smiles he gets from people looking at his weird contraption.

Jasmine
3 years 8 months ago
Person – gaucho at Fogo De Chao Question: So how comfortable are the gaucho pants? He said, yes, pretty comfy. Then we ended up talking about how many times we both had been to Brazil, the fact that I never seen those particular type of pants worn there at churrascarias, and why we went on our trips, and more. This is a test I’ve put myself through for awhile now, but it’s still intimidating. I have to keep doing it though, since I just moved 3 months ago to a whole new city. There’s always that nervousness built up from… Read more »
Edgar
Edgar
3 years 8 months ago

I was at the gym working out when I noticed a young man wearing a high school t-shirt from the school I graduated from, so I approached him and asked him, “Hey, did you go to Riverdale High School?” Turns out that he was from there and the conversation kicked off really well. He brought me up to speed on past high school friends, including teachers who passed away after I graduated high school. We are talking about 8 years ago. All because I decided to talk to this kid I have never met in my life.

Brett
Brett
3 years 8 months ago

I accept your challenge. I’m going to rasie you by not only starting the conversation but trying to talk this to be determined female stranger and my girlfriend into a threesome. We’ll see how it goes.

James
James
3 years 8 months ago
I really like talking to strangers so this was a fun assignment for me. We’ve had a temp in the office the whole week and while she was leaving today I struck up a conversation with her. As I was going through it I really did consider how I talk the skill for granted of being able to talk to a complete stranger and get them to tell me a lot of details about their life in a short amount of time, but still keep things casual. It’s a great way to build rapport for further conversations and professional interactions.… Read more »
Lauren K.
Lauren K.
3 years 8 months ago
I’m terrible at conversations with strangers! I had an important business meeting the other day that the CEO asked me to take for her and I felt like a basketcase, stressing out about being a good host, smiling while she was talking, asking intelligent questions, etc. I didn’t even want to take the meeting but I knew it was good practice and would show my boss that I’m valuable. I tried a few times today to strike up a completely random conversation but froze. I did go meet in person with a banker to help me with my online banking… Read more »
Nikki
Nikki
3 years 8 months ago
I did it! I work in security so meeting people isn’t an issue. So I upped the challenge and tried to find someone I’ve never spoke to before. This guy is doing maintained on his boat, so I stopped to chat. I learn the name of his boat “stonk” is an African word for fishing. He’s from South Africa, been in the states for 15 years. Since a friend of mine recently travelled there I told him about her experience. He agreed that there are part of the continent that are life changing. I also found out he used the… Read more »
Terri
Terri
3 years 8 months ago
I don’t know why I have such a fear of talking with new people. I am working really hard to get out of that rut. My problem with “canned scripts” is that I always feel I know when someone is using one on me and I hate to be seen as insincere. So today, I went up to a gentleman who came into my business (I’m normally behind the scenes), extended my hand, and gave my name. He told me his name and I asked him to tell me something about himself. It was an extremely pleasant conversation. I invited… Read more »
Clinton
Clinton
3 years 8 months ago

I’m sitting in Subway, having just finished my free cookie. A nice older gentleman comes in with a USS Missouri hat… hmm “I wonder what he did?, Was he there?” I got off my high chair and asked if I could join him. “Greatest Generation” type of a guy. I know the outline of his life story and his weekly routine. Sounds like we’re on next week, for some more history stories and banter, same time and place!

Karen
Karen
3 years 8 months ago

I like to talk with people so this wasn’t difficult for me. I chatted with a guy who was working the counter at a food store. I said, “So, how’s your day going?” He then related to me it was going really well. I said, “That’s good. Why’s it going so well today?” He then told me about how he was working the early shift so he gets out in mid-afternoon and why it’s so great to get off earlier in the day.”

Chris
Chris
3 years 8 months ago
Almost feels like cheating since I already use most of there scripts, especially the dog one, (I am a dog walker by day. Thanks Earn1K!). Still, I’d like to have some good momentum going into what will likely be harder assignments down the line, so I made a point of making SURE I talked to at least one person on the street today. The first one (and only one I made a point of remembering details of) was when I was walking a mutt named Penny and the pit bull being walked on the other side of the street kept… Read more »
Simi
Simi
3 years 8 months ago

This one was really hard for me as I’m quite shy. I was dreading the assignment when I got the email. But I decided that if I ever thought of anything to say to any stranger, I would say it.

There is a girl in one of my courses who has a really awesome hairstyle, which I noticed Wednesday. I decided I would tell her I liked her hair today, and I did! The entire “conversation” was not a long conversation, but there were lots of smiles and positive energy involved. I enjoyed it.

Casey McCarty
3 years 8 months ago

I now help run a makerspace for which I used to volunteer. Before this, my graduate education had me primed for research, not networking. I used to feel clumsy and awkward selling myself or selling the work I do. When I became Assistant Director I didn’t know too many of the current members, some having been around years before me. It never fails to invite someone to talk about themselves. If I don’t know a member or only vaguely know them, “what are you making?” always works.

Karla N
Karla N
3 years 8 months ago
Last night I went out and had a few drinks with my coworkers. I will admit I am sociable. My job relies solely on 90% of conversing with people from all parts of the world. Furthermore, I am not timid to spark a conversation with anyone at a coffee shop, bar, and school. In fact I too read about being able to talk to people and I brush up on a lot of Dale Carneige material. For me it’s a continuous skill I want to master especially public speaking. For instance, last night I was at the bar I bought… Read more »
Nick
Nick
3 years 8 months ago
At work, I see many recurring faces in the halls and break rooms, but I rarely take the time to make introductions. I introduced myself to a new hire. I could tell she was young, so I asked where she went to school and what she thinks of the working world. We ended up talking about her home town and alma mater. So often, I walk by the same people 50 times a year and never both to introduce myself. I do this out of busy-ness, not shy-ness. I don’t struggle with making cold introductions, so this was a fun… Read more »
Nick
Nick
3 years 8 months ago

bother*

Sunny
Sunny
3 years 8 months ago

I do this while at work, and I’m a part-time server and people will actually talk a lot about themselves and they are more than willing to talk to you. But I think this is because it is Canada rather than other parts of the world, might need further testing to see different responses.

Amy Morris Shalosky
Amy Morris Shalosky
3 years 8 months ago

Thankfully, this is one of my strengths. Made idle conversation with a customer service rep and a bank teller. Now to transfer this skill to making relevant conversation with professionals.

Doug
Doug
3 years 8 months ago
Those are pretty killer “icebreakers”. Most of us are hardwired to interact socially and don’t mind the stranger’s easy going gab. She definitely would be up there on the woman of my dreams if she was carrying a copy of “I Will Teach You to Be Rich”. And in my dream, I’m helping her include me as a regular expense in her conscious spending plan. I keed, I keed. Yeah, the pre-coffee personality disorder definitely differs from the post caffeinated version of most people in the morning. Almost like the “V8” commercials of days gone by where the vegetable juice… Read more »
Nicholle
3 years 8 months ago
Thanks for the call to action, Ramit. I’m really lucky- I learned to start small talk about ten years ago and honed my appoach in customer service jobs at Starbucks and teaching ball room dance classes. My current challenge is learning when to make small talk… However, I love everything you share and wanted to participate. I have a customer that I avoid engaging because she is not pleasant. Today, when I saw her I took a deep breath, smiled, and said, “Wow, that lip gloss looks great on you! What color is that?” She lit up. She pulled out… Read more »
Sabine
Sabine
3 years 8 months ago

Sorry, didn’t get to this today as I’m packing my suitcase to go to a Thai wedding next week (plane leaves tomorrow). I’m sure ot be talking to a lot of people I’ve never met before! If anything interesting happens, I’ll post another comment.

Joshua
Joshua
3 years 8 months ago

Talked to this girl, I overheard having the traditional college “I dont know what my passion is.” crisis. So talked to her, gave one tip, which was stop focusing on the vague word passion, instead just focus on what you like such as being the center of attention, giving advice etc. It ended with us exchanging contact info so I think it went well

Kentaro
3 years 8 months ago
The other day I got a call from a debt collector for the first time in my life. A “free” checking account that used to not have inactivity fees changed their policy, didn’t let me know, got $200 in fees racked up and eventually went to collections. I asked the female debt collector how she was doing, she says “Oh, just alright.” Just alright? “I got into a fender bender on Monday so I’ve been having to deal with the insurance company all week.” Aw, that’s too bad. Who’s your insurance through? “Allstate.” Well…. are you in good hands? “Haha,… Read more »
Maggie
3 years 8 months ago

Ramit,

Talk about the power of persuasion..LOL
Dammit! I WANTED that “2,000 word MEGA Post”
😉
As a person that has found it relatively easy to talk to people all my life and someone that has made sales and service my life’s work, this is an ‘easy’ task.
For me however, in this ‘challenge’ that you’ve thrown down, I have decided to focus on talking LESS…and listening more.
Yours is one of the few emails that I actually enjoy reading – coming from an IMer..that says something.
Keep pushing…EVERYONE needs a coach or mentor.
I like the ‘cut of your jib”!
🙂
Cheers
Maggie

Marcella
3 years 8 months ago

Done. Talked to a fellow boater about his monohull and what made it his perfect boat. Why is this easy but social media is hard? My theory: audience of one (based on this assignment and it’s easy for me to engage one person and take some interest in their experience) versus an audience of many where I can’t even SEE who I’m trying to engage. Now to modify and test some of these scripts for engaging people on social media – see if my geek theory has any merit. And to see if I can actually get conversations started.

beth
beth
3 years 8 months ago
Well, I talked to about 125+/- random strangers today because I work part time as a substitute teacher. Things that worked, talking to a girl who was not working, told me she didn’t like teachers and wasn’t going to be in school in a week because she was going to start homeschooling. I wished her luck and we talked about how hard it could be to work when you weren’t motivated. We talked about the fact that it is easy to drift and not get much done if you didn’t have a structure and I shared some of the things… Read more »
Charlotte
Charlotte
3 years 8 months ago

What was interesting for me was not so much the conversation I started (detailed about the weather, earlier sleet, possibility of warming), but how I felt before and after the conversation. Prior to the conversation, I felt busy and just wanted to get on with my purchase and my day, but when I slowed down and deliberately engaged her by asking questions and listening, I ended up relaxing and laughing and feeling good about the day.

Erik
Erik
3 years 8 months ago
I stopped in the liquor store near my apartment to pick up some supplies for a trip out of town this weekend and tried to start talking with the cashier while I checked out. It was a bit before 5 PM, but was pretty busy in there. “Seems really busy in here for this time time of day! Is this normal?” He laughed and kind of nodded. I laughed with him and said that everyone must be getting happy hour going early. He laughed again and nodded. I’m not sure if he didn’t get chatty because it was busy or… Read more »
Anne
Anne
3 years 8 months ago
Lady cashier at checkout line looked tired and frazzled.. I was only one in line and she had to make extra accomodations for my wheelchair. Asked her if she was about to go off shift, that she really looked tired. She stared at me a minute, during which I smiled gently and tilted my head. She then proceded to trust me with her problems with her parents, children and deployed husband. She said she didn’t see any help on the horizon and was ready to give up. Since we had a few moments, I took out a piece of paper,… Read more »
Susun
Susun
3 years 8 months ago
I am not going to be out anywhere today, so I had to make do with who I met on the dog walk. An elderly couple, with whom I’ve exchanged smiles and nods occasionally, so not total strangers, but almost. Today, their dog ran ahead to greet us, so I made a fuss over him. When the owners arrived, I broke the ice by asking whether the dog’s sweater was in his school colors, as it matched his booties. (All you pet haters can stop gagging now.) They laughed, we laughed, she explained the sweater, all was good. The exchange… Read more »
Julia
Julia
3 years 8 months ago

I started a conversation with the busdriver. Result: I felt more human.

Bethany
Bethany
3 years 8 months ago

I talk to strangers all the time and really enjoy it. Today I had a massage with someone new and spent almost a half hour after chatting with my new (fabulous) masseuse about how he got into the business and the gentrification of San Francisco. Great conversation and I totally will go back to him again in the future. Here I find neighborhood conversations to be really easy to get off the ground, especially if people have been here for many years.

Zach
Zach
3 years 8 months ago

It went great and landed me a date, although talking to someone I don’t know is not all that challenging for me. It was years ago before I decided to get this area of my life handled. Love the news letter Ramit, keep it up. I like to think of you as the aziz ansari of the finance world.

Elle
Elle
3 years 8 months ago

Like many of the above fresponders, talking to strangers isn’t a problem. I’m awesome in low-stake conversations — even if it turns into a viable contact. It is far harder for me to feel comfortable networking inside my own company, where the stakes are much higher. So…I accept your challenge and will be reaching out to a Sr.VP that I’ve been meaning to talk to for months.

Ralph
3 years 8 months ago

On a monday morning in the elevator or at the coffee machine. ..
Say (with a smile) ” Nearly monday”..
Always a good opening line 🙂 Works all the time.

nan
nan
3 years 8 months ago

I asked a fella in the elevator about the netflix movie he was getting ready to return. turns out he’s seen both the “girl with a dragon tattoo” trilogies several times. we ended up continuing our chat in the building lobby for a few minutes.

Elle
Elle
3 years 8 months ago

^^———-^^^
responders

Amelia
Amelia
3 years 8 months ago

Commented on a woman’s necklace and she told me it was from Africa and which store she got it from.

Gina
Gina
3 years 8 months ago

Hi Ramit,
Talking to strangers isn’t hard for me. But thanks for the reminder to LISTEN to them, and ask questions about their interests. I had a nice conversation with a reporter I don’t know very well and, as a result, may have made a new friend.

michael
michael
3 years 8 months ago

I saw a random girl waiting for her train and went up and said “hey, I saw you from over there and thought you looked really nice” she said “yeah i noticed”. She turned out to be really nice and asked if I wanted her number a few minutes later 🙂 This mission was fun! I need to start more conversations with strangers.

Jessica M Frey
Jessica M Frey
3 years 8 months ago
Task Complete: While waiting for a new prospect at a coffee shop this afternoon (he doesn’t count as a stranger as we’ve already had email interactions), I chatted up the guy in line with me waiting to order coffee. I think he thought I was hitting on him, as most guys aren’t used to a woman up and talking to them without prompting in a public setting unless it’s flirtatious, but that’s OK. A little extra flirting in life never hurt anyone. We chatted for about 5-8 minutes until my prospect arrived, but it was a good way to pass… Read more »
RebeccaK
RebeccaK
3 years 8 months ago

I started doing this after working as a bank teller. The people who are nice and treat you like a person really, really stand out from the ones who don’t. As a mom of several young children, it’s so nice to go out and interact with people rather than just ignore them or use them for their function (barista, cashier). It makes ME feel more human.

Of the examples you gave, I’m least likely to start up a convo with another person in line. Going to up that this weekend.

Linda
Linda
3 years 8 months ago

Today I was at the liquor store buying a bottle wine and I asked the women at the checkout, if business has declined since the New Year (there were not many people in the store). She replied “we were busy about a half hour ago and business is still steady”. I noted that after I asked her the question, he demeanor changed, she was smiling more. Thanks for reminder to network!!

Harper
3 years 8 months ago
So there are two conversations I had since reading this with strangers. The first is where I asked a cute girl who sits next to me in class if I could get her notes each day for the rest of the class. We talked a little more which was mostly me complimenting her notes and a little small talk. The other, more interesting, conversation was not started by me, but did depend on me taking it up. I was walking home after the first class of a Drawing course and I had a big portfolio bag and a houseless man… Read more »
Jennifer
Jennifer
3 years 8 months ago
I’m what they call A Talker. I do know when to talk and when to keep my trap shut, but if I’m in a cab or in line or whatever I have no trouble chatting people up. Today I was surprised when a young woman in my barre class started chatting ME up (“That class last night was brutal!”), which was kind of awesome because I’m usually the person who starts up a conversation. Today I had a great conversation with the cabbie who drove me home from the grocery store – I mentioned that groceries had gotten noticeably more… Read more »
Jennie
Jennie
3 years 8 months ago

Since it is Friday, I found it easy to just ask, “Any plans for the weekend?” and got good results. Everyone had something they are looking forward to doing, even if it is just sleeping in.

Lauren
Lauren
3 years 8 months ago

Ramit, I’m already one of your students, but I’m pretty proud of myself this past week and it falls right in line with this post. I started up conversations with strangers this week – in another language! Mind you, they were short ones, since I’m not fluent, but I wanted to try at least attempting to speak another language rather than falling back on English and hoping they spoke it too. Everyone was really nice about it and wished me well on my future language skill improvements.

Jessica Epstein
Jessica Epstein
3 years 8 months ago
I’m a very sociable person and starting conversations with strangers is something I already do a fair bit of. So this assignment wasn’t too difficult for me–but I figured I’d best do it, and do it today, and comment about it, lest I be one of the lame-o’s you don’t want following you! Today I conversed with a few people while out in the city … rather than using my iPhone to direct me somewhere, as I usually do, I asked a couple of guys standing nearby for directions and we chatted a minute. At a store, I chatted with… Read more »
Lisa
Lisa
3 years 8 months ago

I said to a guy at work that I didn’t know “I don’t think I know you.” Seemed simple enough. We exchanged names and he gave me advice on the courses I want to take that he just so happened to have taken already. And we had awesome lunches in matching Tupperware.

MR
MR
3 years 8 months ago
I was offered a job once as a waitress at a fancy place for people with lots of money. I declined. I was afraid of the rich fancy people. I didn’t think that I would be able to be personable or have anything to talk about with them (“so what’s being really rich like?”), and I was intimidated by their wealth. My coworkers said I was crazy for passing it up, the money was great and they said it was so easy. I just thought “they don’t get me, they don’t know that deep down I’m really shy.” And I… Read more »
Cici
Cici
3 years 8 months ago

I tried two conversations – one was a friendly laugh at some elevator banter which pulled me into a conversation about the prospect of a twice baked quinoa potato. Sadly, I was quickly shunned, they wanted to continue with their won conversation. Awkward when you are in an elevator.

The second was with an opening line of “It is hot in here,” which turned into a funny conversation about numerous scenarios people encounter in daily city life and how it can be hilarious to stumble through them.

Sam
Sam
3 years 8 months ago
I’ve actually been trying to talk to strangers more for about the past month so these stories may be cheating. A couple weeks ago while I was at a local craft brewery I saw a guy walk in wearing a shirt from a different craft brewery that had opened up only a few months ago. I went up and mentioned that I had been to that brewery as well, and we chatted about them for a few minutes. When the guy was getting ready to leave he came over to me and gave me his remaining beer tokens because I… Read more »
Regina
Regina
3 years 8 months ago
This is actually something I have no problem with, and I think it’s because I’m just insanely curious about everything and everyone. Just today, I saw a woman in the breakroom at work taking something out of the microwave that looked and smelled heavenly. And right away I had to ask: “What is that? It smells amazing!” It was a vegetable stir-fry she threw together for dinner the night before. So we started talking about what was in it, what spices she used, and all that other good stuff. So now I have a great new recipe to try out!… Read more »
Scott
Scott
3 years 8 months ago

Done. How do you stay focus when the conversation is predictable and not stimulating or intersting?

Larry
Larry
3 years 8 months ago

I went to a bookstore after work and asked someone in the Science Fiction aisle if he had any favorite SciFi book he could recommend. So we talked for several minutes about his favorite books and compared notes.

Andrea
Andrea
3 years 8 months ago

I started up a conversation with my flamboyantly gay check out operator. He chatted away back to me. It lit up my day as he was soooo lovely and chatty. I now only want to go back to the supermarket when he is working and will wait in line longer to go in his que to talk to him I love him so much.

Nathan
Nathan
3 years 8 months ago

I talked with another customer while we were waiting to check out at a sporting goods store. She wound up giving me a $10 off $50 coupon that was about to expire so … BONUS!

Kate
Kate
3 years 8 months ago

I stuck with the easiest conversation which was: “Got any plans for this weekend?” to the ECO (read: Janitor) whom I talk to on a hey-we-both-exist-in-this-work-location-let’s-say-hello basis.
Learned about his plan to go for a mani-pedi with his wife, brunch, and chiropractor appointment.
It ended with the traditional “stay safe” and smile that usually crops up in our office on Fridays. But I *did* actually initiate the conversation as opposed to being passive. (It wasn’t a total stranger, but not someone I usually talk to, so I’m counting it as a win for right now.)

Natasha
3 years 8 months ago

OK, so I took the bait, and it looks like I was not the only one…
Spoke to a little girl about the color of her cup of gelato, so sweet! Does that count? … and also with a woman in an accessory store who wanted to know if I knew where to shop for a Kaftan, turns out I actually had three options for her, and she was so happy! Ended up that she was the owner of the shop I was in, and offered me an additional 5% discount on top of my trade discount! Yeah!
Win, Win situation 🙂

Kel
Kel
3 years 8 months ago

Out shopping today, I struck up a conversation in each store. Used Ramit’s busy/quiet day line if I couldn’t think of anything else. It worked like a charm. But honestly, I’m a chatty person so it wasn’t too difficult. My problem is when it comes to talking to anyone I think of as a superior – bosses, clients, or profs. In those situation my usually natural ability to chat pretty much evaporates. As soon as there’s something at stake for me in a social interaction – it’s like my awkward switch gets flipped on.

Julia
Julia
3 years 8 months ago
I was living in a non-English speaking country for over a year and knew enough basic conversation to get by in shops and restaurants- so things were very functional and non-personal. Since I’ve been back home I’ve found it more difficult to make small talk because I was out of practice. In shops recently I’ve been trying to get back into it. I was in a fabric/craft shop and asked the shop assistant if she sewed and she said she didn’t but she wanted to learn. I then proceeded to tell her a little about teaching myself to sew. It… Read more »
Helen
3 years 8 months ago
I am working on the material you offer and appreciate it greatly. As for this assignment, it was easy – talking with strangers is not difficult for me, and I do it all the time. I think that you are at least partially wrong about pet owners – they talk so much about the pets because of their attachment to the pets, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have plenty of human connections too. (I have tested this assertion informally.) People mostly enjoy talking about the things that are important to them. My extension of this challenge is finding and… Read more »
Ashley
3 years 8 months ago
I started up a conversation with a clerk at one of my favorite stores. There was a much-advertised sale starting today, and I asked her if they had been busy. She responded positively and we talked about how the bad weather didn’t seem to affect their foot traffic the way it usually does, but the conversation didn’t really “go” anywhere. I felt really awkward and distracted, but after reading some of these comments, I can see how to do better next time. I used to think testing was simply making a plan and getting a result, but I’m seeing the… Read more »
Ron
Ron
3 years 8 months ago

Ramit,

Talk to a stranger. That’s our first test? Come on now kid. That’s not a test.

I’m already a top performer. And I love the idea of you giving challenges to us. But let’s aim a bit higher.

Let us have it. We can handle it. If we can’t we shouldn’t be on your list.

Ron

Diana
Diana
3 years 8 months ago
I work in high-end coffee, so I do this every day I’m behind the bar. There are times, though, when the conversation goes beyond “What are you in the mood for today/What’s your day hold for you?” and I end up in more in-depth conversations. Recently, I was chatting with a man who comes in after dropping off his daughter at school and ended up with a proposition to come in and speak with some of the jazz classes he teaches to at-risk youth in the area — specifically, to talk with nonwhite teen girls on how to exit the… Read more »
Irene Santos
Irene Santos
3 years 8 months ago
I talked to one of applicants who has experience in the industry I am trying to enter. I said Hi, smiled, and said its really freezing in the room and I introduced myself. after small talk she started to talk about her previous work experiences with other companies in the same industry. I notice though that she really wants to talk about her experiences to a novice like me because she keeps on interrupting me whenever I tried to switch to some other topics. Talking to her is one of the best decision, I learned that the industry is not… Read more »
kateolivieri
kateolivieri
3 years 8 months ago
So, I had a go at starting a conversation with a woman I didn’t know this morning… We both were trying to walk around some cars and the drivers were being odd. She answered back in a friendly way but I learned something… I was so focused on finding something to say that I didn’t really take notice of the fact that she had her back to me. Better to start a conversation with someone facing you. Oops. I actually already use the script listed for checkout chicks (I think it must be boring for people working so good to… Read more »
Emily
Emily
3 years 8 months ago

I don’t have too much trouble talking to people I don’t know, but it’s also not as easy as I’d like it to be. I ended up asking an old lady I randomly passed on a park path an innocuous question about where she got her shih tzu, and somehow ended up privy to her daughter’s entire life story. My dad consistently has this sort of thing happen to him with old ladies in airports, so for anyone trying to pick a target demographic for social skills practice…

Joshua Valdez
3 years 8 months ago
I actually already did this last night! I was heading out for Stanford’s senior pub nights and struck up a conversation with a cute girl I hadn’t met. I asked her what her plans were after graduation and she replied ‘find a job’. To which I asked, ‘does that mean, you know, cleaning toilets? because that is a job!’. She was pretty flustered and I almost went Ramit on her right then and there. Instead I’m going to take action and email her links to Tim Ferris’ Four Hour Work Week and I Will Teach You To Be Rich right… Read more »
Eric
Eric
3 years 8 months ago
Two ladies were talking outside of Starbucks in the the town I recently moved to (in Southern California). So few people meet and talk on the street, MUCH LESS WALK HERE !! BUT MOST people that came to get a coffee seemed to stop by and say hi to these ladies FIRST! It was unbelievable! When I finished my coffee I walked out I asked them if they were the ‘godmothers’ of the town and they started laughing! We took the conversation from there after I mentioned how popular they were and asked them for more information on how/where to… Read more »
Lorna
3 years 8 months ago
Ramit, I actually caught on to one of your tips in “How do I stop being shy” video, and used it to strike up conversations with strangers, making every script to be a question about THEM. With that in mind, as well as taking note of the little hints they’d give out during our chat, helps me keep the conversation going. I never realised the extent to how people absolutely LOVE talking about themselves, until I used your tip. I managed to meet with many people from different types of industries that I believe could help me with what I… Read more »
paul
paul
3 years 8 months ago
Ramit, I tested some new stuff today. Every time resulted in a short friendly chat – whenever: a) there was an obvious common factor (standing in the same shop/queue/bus, looking at the same thing, etc.) b) there was a convenient “third party” to comment about – their dog, a book they’re reading, whatever. c) I tested asking for help from people in the street: “Excuse me, can you tell me how to find….?” – they gave help if they were standing still, although they (understandably) seemed hassled if I spoke to them as they were walking. But one type of… Read more »
David
David
3 years 8 months ago

I was in an office waiting room and saw someone with a leatherbound book for holding portfolios of work or presentation materials. I asked her about it, and she grunted. In her 30’s, grunted. Okay, then.

Lauren
Lauren
3 years 8 months ago
The office next to mine has had workmen in all his week moving out office furniture and filing cabinets. I ran into a woman who works in the other office who I have said a polite hello to before, but never actually talked to. I asked her about the move and turns out she is in charge of the consolidation her office is currently under going. We discussed it for a bit, and I wished her luck with the move and a lovely weekend. All in all it was nice to get outside of my comfort zone – thanks for… Read more »
Elvia
Elvia
3 years 8 months ago
I have found it difficult to strike up conversations with people all my life (I’m 27 years old). Naturally, my first reaction to this assignment was “Hell no, I can’t do this…I’m socially awkward”. Then I thought, “Why not?! “This is the biggest barrier I have and it has stopped me from living the life I want to live. If I conquer this, I conquer all”. So, I went out on my morning walk as usual but this time determined to have a conversation with someone. As I walked, I noticed a couple with a dog walking towards me. Me:… Read more »
Martha
Martha
3 years 8 months ago

Detest shopping, so buzz in and out with blinders on. Today, stopped in grocery store and went through self-checkout. Had to get my change from the clerk. I looked her in the eye and smiled as I greeted her. (Don’t even remember what I said.) She returned my eye contact and smiled back. Not too surprising. But, she looked down as she counted my change and handed it to me, then made eye contact and smiled (as did I) as she bade me have a nice day, and I did her.

Emily
Emily
3 years 8 months ago
I coach youth basketball on a volunteer basis, I got to the gym early for practice and there was a guy cleaning the gym. It was really dumb and I probably looked like a complete ditz, but I was basically just like, wow these kids eat a lot of candy. And he replied with you think this is bad….the nights I clean the cafeteria I understand why all the kids your age are fat. (I was a bit taken off guard as I’m neither fat nor a kid – I’m 30, so I just laughed and said I bet.) Then… Read more »
Crystal
Crystal
3 years 8 months ago

There are a bunch of writers hanging out at the college I work for (MFA candidates). I asked a group of them what they’re working on, and why they chose this program. Some thoughtful responses.

Leslie Uhl
3 years 8 months ago

What an awesome idea! I love it!
After reading your post this morning, I made the effort go out and have a chat with our garbage man when he arrived (something I never do). I started by talking about the weather ( we had a huge snow/windstorm last night and this morning) and ended up letting him know how much I appreciated him being out in all weathers doing his job.
Thanks! Look forward to the next challenge!
Leslie

Olga
Olga
3 years 8 months ago

I feel very good about have found you. I know I’ll learn so much from you thank you

Jenny
Jenny
3 years 8 months ago
I was in the store today and randomly talked to three different people – one was a very pregnant lady with an awesome dress on. She obviously took the time to get Dressed even though she must have been 8 months pregnant and had two kids with her under 6. I complimented her on the awesome dress and she just lit up. I spoke with another woman in the cold medicine aisle that was looking for something that would work on her son (I eavesdropped a little first.) I asked her how old, and gave her a few recommendations to… Read more »
Lindsay
3 years 8 months ago
This woman at the grocery store asked me to help her read the spice bottles because she was looking for a specific blend (and apparently had trouble reading the bottles.) After finding it for her, I simply asked her if she had used that blend before in cooking and would she recommend it. This led to a 15 minute conversation about Martha Stewart and how to cook the perfect frittata. Easy as pie. 🙂 But I’ve never had a problem talking to strangers. I could probably talk to a brick wall lol. Still, I’ve read/done your stuff for awhile now… Read more »
Akasha Stoecklin
Akasha Stoecklin
3 years 8 months ago
I love this post! I used to be terribly shy as a child and then, one day in high school, I decided to get over it and started talking to people everywhere about everything. But things got tricky when I moved to Latin America a few years ago and learned Spanish. Sparking up a conversation with a random stranger in a foreign language? Craziness. So I decided to do it in Spanish every day for a year. Every time I left the house, I looked for an opportunity to strike up a conversation with someone new. My favorite one was… Read more »
Michelle
Michelle
3 years 8 months ago

I was in Petsmart getting dog food when this woman came down the aisle with what had to be one of the ugliest dogs I’ve ever seen. Poor thing. It made me feel bad for him. As she came closer, I asked her what kind of dog he was. Her answer? She looked down at her dog, looked back at me and said, “I have no idea,” turned around and walked the other way. When I ran into her a little later, she wouldn’t even make eye contact with me.

Michael S
Michael S
3 years 8 months ago

haha, maybe she was dog sitting and embarrassed. When i dog sit I make a joke out of not knowing a thing about the dog. That sucks though!

William
William
3 years 8 months ago

I took a part-time job as a barista so I would have an excuse to talk to random people, with company-provided scripts to get me started. However, I still have a terrible time talking to people outside that context.

Today, I caught up with a woman with whom I normally only exchange hellos and goodbyes. Without much else planned, I asked, “Mind if I walk with you?” She said no, and we continued to talk for a few minutes. We are going out for drinks tomorrow evening.

This may qualify as the opposite of Eva’s cockblocking story above! Thanks Ramit!

Michael S
3 years 8 months ago

I started up a conversation with a guy at the gym today. He was on one side of the room doing kung-fu on the heavy bag, I was on the side boxing. We nod to each other all the time but never really talk. They changed out the heavy bags to new lighter ones so I started up a conversation about it in between sets, thinking I’d spend my minute and a half break practicing like Ramit said to. Ended up being a 45 minute chat and he taught me the basics of kung-fu. Now I’m super badass 😛

edith russo
3 years 8 months ago
I went to a wordpress meetup last night, first time to a meetup. dreaded driving downtown in rush hour and trying to find the place at night, but i eventually managed. Sat down next to a stranger and started a conversation about wordpress. felt pretty good, it was easy to keep the convo going since we both were interested in wordpress. and then, i was the first to volunteer to ask a question to the expert panel. i can’t believe i did that, normally i wait a few turns. it was kind of a relief too since i kind of… Read more »
Brian
3 years 8 months ago
This has been a great day for me, test-wise. I was a bit nervous about this challenge at first. Actually, I was trying to think of a way to cheap out on this. Instead, I ended up striking conversations with 5 strangers. Although I had brought something I could have eaten for lunch to work today, instead I went to Subway to find some one I had never met before and talk to them. I hesitated, but struck up a conversation with a man and woman who were together, about how one liked things spicy, and the other not spicy,… Read more »
Kevin
Kevin
3 years 8 months ago
Lately, I have been asking everyone I meet how their day is going. Often I get a good and that’s it. But a handful of people, longer conversations have ensued. I began sharing my new years experience with a woman working at a restaurant and she told me about her trip to Colorado. Another girl in the elevator showed me how cool her nail polish was. Another checkout girl started asking me about what I did and wound up chatting for a few minutes in which normally this would never happen. While all these events are pretty mundane, I’ve begun… Read more »
Shana
Shana
3 years 8 months ago
I started a conversation with the person sitting next to me on the plane. He was talking to a little boy seated next to him. I asked him if he was a teacher because he related to the little boy so well. Well I found out the person was a teacher at a private school, he uses comic books to teach his male students. He lives in a community home for teachers at the school as part of his teaching program. In exchange for doing so and agreeing to teacher at the school for 3 years, the school pays for… Read more »
Dean
Dean
3 years 8 months ago

I was at school, walking down stairs to get lunch, and striked up a conversation with a teacher I had never met.

“Hello! Windy day, isn’t it? What do you teach?”
“Hii! I teach algebra 2 and geometry. My name is Mr. Nguyen.”
“What is your major in?”
“Physics.”

Whoa. We saluted one another and walked away.
I tried this again on another teacher and found out that she is a nuclear physicist, half-lives, uranium and all. Even scarier cool — and they’re normal looking people.

A boost in brain confidence resulted.

Luisa Lopez
Luisa Lopez
3 years 8 months ago

I asked a new co worker what made him abandon his job and just live in a different culture. He said he was burnt out and needed a change in his life. I admired his courage and found his sense of adventure refreshing

Jonathan Andersen
3 years 8 months ago

At McDonalds the woman working the counter asked, in a fast food cashier tone, “How are you?” I returned it with, “Good. How are you?”

She seemed a little thrown off. And when I only ordered a small drink, she told me that I could have it for free since it wasn’t worth the trouble of ringing it up.
WIN.

Sameer
Sameer
3 years 8 months ago

I bantered a little with the girl serving me lunch today, making various quips about the food. She really enjoyed it. It was fun.

Candace
Candace
3 years 8 months ago
I just started a new job so I had to get to know people and for me it’s just easier for people to come up to me to introduce themselves because there is one new name to learn versus I have about 60 new names to learn. But I signed up for the Negotiation course and I am being very gutsy in striking up conversations with new coworkers for the success of my career future. So I asked one of my coworkers what kind of work is she doing as I walked past her and she told me and we… Read more »
Nicole
Nicole
3 years 8 months ago
Yup, I did it….started a conversation with a random person. Since its something that’s a little more natural to me, I more proud of myself for actually leaving a comment about it. I began the conversation with, “Is that the galaxy note?.” If anyones seen those things, they’re HUGE. Me, being the andriod person I am just had to inquire about it. All in all I got some pretty useful information about the phone. I guess social skills builds into creating positve relationships. I never have a problem with initiating an interaction through conversation, its more so maintaining that relationship.… Read more »
Scott
Scott
3 years 8 months ago

As I stepped into the elevator this morning, while peeling a grapefruit to eat, the woman already in the elevator said “oh man, that smells good” to which I replied “yep, I have one every day, the red ones are the sweetest.” She said “hmm, I never knew that, I thought they were all sour and gross? You learn something every day!”

In a normal situation I would have said as little as possible.

Deb
Deb
3 years 8 months ago

Did it! Asked a random question to the department store worker. Got a look of surprise right away and then had a hard time bringing an end to the conversation to leave the store. Maybe this works too good some times!

Susan
3 years 8 months ago

I start random conversations with people all the time. I have found out so much – everybody has something to teach you. I have heard about family members who got murdered, how people overcame diabetes, life in Columbia, good work (positively inspired!) in Uganda, and whether it will rain tomorrow. It’s just the most wonderful thing to connect with other human beings and to discover that 99% of them are funny, entertaining, kind and considerate.

Tracy
Tracy
3 years 8 months ago

Long time reader, first time commenter.

You did it, Ramit. You got me to actually take action AND comment on it.
I truly dislike talking with people…or atleast I thought I did.
I chatted up the checkout woman at the grocery store during my lunch hour. We had a nice little chat about how busy the store was. Then, I went back to work and just chatted up everyone that happened by. I found out so much about the people I work with everyday.
Thanks for the assignment!
I hope to continue talking with folks – known and new.

Jeff Waechter
3 years 8 months ago

While sitting at the Marriott in Denver waiting to head to the airport, I heard a man asking about how to determine if he is missing stays on his account to the staff. I politely informed him a fast way is to review his folios an make sure his account is attached to his receipts. After a couple of mins talking, I found out he is a Ref for the NFL in Denver for the upcoming playoff game. Our discussion was short lived as other Refs started to arrive and he joined in football ruling speak.

Charles
3 years 8 months ago

I find there is nothing like a compliment to start a conversation. I complemented both a woman and a man on their shoes today, at different times of course, and received genuine appreciation and conversation.

Rita
Rita
3 years 8 months ago

I work at a jewelry store, and this guy came in browsing the watches. i looked him in the eyes, smiled and asked him what he thought of this new watch we got in. he took a look and said it looked decent, then proceeded to tell me what he really liked. we didnt have that brand but he still looked at what we had. sometimes it results in a sale, sometimes not…

Jason Brenizer
3 years 8 months ago
I went to the Transmedia Austin monthly mixer at ChannelAustin Studios (which, I learned, is the longest continuously running public access TV station in the world). I met several new people, but I’d like to tell you about Anu. She’s originally from Madras, India, lived in Canada for a while and now lives in Illinois. She is in Austin to learn about a new passion for her – filmmaking – at Austin Film School. She has recently published a novel called Finger Puppets in India through Harper Collins, and chose to self publish in the U.S. I’m halfway through writing… Read more »
Colleen
Colleen
3 years 8 months ago

I was at a garage waiting for my tires to be fixed and started talking to another customer waiting, unfortunately, I don’t remember who started talking to whom, but we ended up having a really interesting conversation that even got to a book that I was reading (what every body is saying by Joe Navarro, former FBI agent) that she had read also. A great conversation with a complete stranger- I used to be extremely shy as a kid, and have worked on improving my people skills, but I have never had a great experience like that before.

Maureen
Maureen
3 years 8 months ago
I was getting TWO duplicate office door keys made today. I told the hardware store guy that yesterday I had an 84 yr old friend on my massage table waiting for me as I used the restroom, outside the office, in the hall to change clothes before giving the massage. I locked myself OUT of the office. After knocking forever, my poor client opened the door for me, all wrapped up in the massage table blanket. OMG! I was so embarrassed. Hence the spare keys! Not one spare, but TWO. Mr Hardware Store wasn’t sure what to think, I laughed… Read more »
CM-C
3 years 8 months ago
I’m almost always talking to new people in my line of work (healthcare, ER specifically), and the fun part about that is people have some of the most spectacular stories, good, bad and ugly. Today I talked to a woman who moved back South after spending most of the past 20 years in PA (near Penn State). So I asked her about the whole Paterno/Sandusky mess and she said that she was actually on camera after the sentencing, being asked what she thought about it as parent. So then I asked her if she moved back home to get away… Read more »
L
L
3 years 8 months ago

I sparked up a short conversation with a check-out clerk at Costco. I asked her if it was busier this time of year-as it was following the holidays. She responded with a smile and a laugh replying that it was indeed-especially the last two weeks. I didn’t have many items to purchase so our interaction was brief but i am glad i took the challenge.

Zephyr
Zephyr
3 years 8 months ago

I went to meet the mailman at my mailbox and it was a new guy. My dog started barking at him and I smiled at him and said (after quieting the dog), “Just another ferocious beast on your route, huh?” He smiled and told me that it’s not a problem, he’s handled worse and then drove to the next box. I think I might have to try and get a story out of him next time! Who knows, he might have been an Irish bare knuckle boxer or something!

Rachel Stelter
Rachel Stelter
3 years 8 months ago
Went to a yoga class tonight and made a point to get there a few minutes early. Complemented one of the other girls on her cool tie-dye leggings and we started chatting. I’m totally not someone who usually talks to random people, because I always use some sort of script like, ” i just don’t care that much…I’m never going to see them again.” But I know I need to force myself to be more outgoing because social people have better networks and quite frankly enjoy life a little bit more. It was great practice getting over that initial, “meh,… Read more »
Bree
3 years 8 months ago
Have you ever intentionally distracted yourself in public to avoid talking to other people? Can you imagine walking onto the train or bus to find everyone on board looking up with a smile to greet you? Spending plenty of time each day on public transit, I know most people stay preoccupied by listening to music, reading a book, talking/texting, sleeping, or looking out the window. I once watched a man take out his laptop to watch a movie for the five minutes he was on the train. I understand that people are bored on public transit, so I don’t blame.… Read more »
CM-C
3 years 8 months ago
OK, I’ll bite on this one. I’m constantly getting picked on by co-workers because, as Ramit succinctly put it, I’m their Nuclear Weapon. The fun part about my line of work that is that I’m always meeting new people, all of whom have some of the most spectacular stories… good, bad and ugly. Today I talked to a woman who moved back South after spending most of the past 20 years in PA (near Penn State). Asked her about the whole Paterno/Sandusky mess and she said that she was actually on camera after the sentencing, being asked what she thought… Read more »
Emily
Emily
3 years 8 months ago
I was sitting at a sushi bar with my man at this new place I’d not been to before and there were two dudes next to us drinking beers and having a great time. The conversation happened so naturally that I don’t even remember what started it, to be honest. One of the dudes has been going to that same sushi spot for 15 years so he was telling us what to order, etc. The sushi place is in Huntington Beach (where my man just moved) but the guy lives in LA (where I live) and drives out to HB… Read more »
Helena
Helena
3 years 8 months ago

Talking to new people is something I really enjoy- all the more so, since I started chatting to this random guy a few years ago. We are still chatting, but he is no longer that random as we have been together for almost four years now!

Ashleigh
Ashleigh
3 years 8 months ago
I feel like I almost have an unfair advantage: I work customer service at the local fast food. Even more so, I’m good at it. My store is located right off the freeway, so we have our regulars, but tons of people come through that I’ll never see again in my life. After a gentleman stood looking at his receipt, food in hand, I asked him if there was something wrong. We had a good five minute discussion on sales tax, his town vs the town that I work in. Nice fellow. I also had no problem asking the young… Read more »
Rachel
Rachel
3 years 8 months ago

So Ramit, I took your advice and struck up a conversation with someone new. The person I selected? A homeless man. Our conversation was filled with just about everything you should never discuss with a stranger. He talked about his horribly racist thoughts and how he personally feels discriminated against as a white man, how his last relationship ended, politics, and how he would rather be alone than date a fat woman. And there you have it! Perhaps my next lesson should be in “learning to select a stranger”.

soizic
soizic
3 years 8 months ago
being overweight with a robust body shape often makes me feel isolated and social awkward but i try to engage other people in brief conversations when i encounter them at bus stops or while riding the bus and that is how i learned to crochet one day i was very curious on how to do the craft of crochet because the LEARN IT or DIY books were not cutting it for me and it felt like a different language even with pictures to guide me it was of no use one day sitting at a bus stop i was watching… Read more »
Gela
Gela
3 years 8 months ago
I’m the life of the party around my friends but I must seem like the shyest person around new people. Lucky for me, I get to step outside of my comfort zone every sunday. I attend a multicultural, multigenerational church with 300-600 people on any given week. Before the sermon starts, we are given 5-10 minutes to strike up a conversation with someone new. I can go through the pleasantries just fine but I get stuck keeping the conversation going if it stalls. It’s easier with a talker; I just listen and ask questions. Also, if I find someone that… Read more »
Kait
Kait
3 years 8 months ago

This afternoon I was grabbing tea at one of the grocery stores in my hometown and got to chatting with an employee about the store layout, the ability to buy booze at grocery stores in different states, and other random food-related topics. By the time the conversation was over, my tea was ready and te friend I was meeting had arrived.

Anna Karena
Anna Karena
3 years 8 months ago

I struck up a conversation with the person sitting next to me at a musical called Priscilla Queen of the Desert. It went just fine and this is an area of my life I don’t struggle with. Whew at least one area.

Jaclyn Norton
Jaclyn Norton
3 years 8 months ago
Hey Ramit – I started a conversation with this fabulous older English woman at a cafe by my house today. She was drinking this delicious looking coffee in a big, clear mug, and before remembering this post I blurted out “excuse me…but WHAT is that?” This led into a whole other conversation about her flat white coffee, and how all those glasses spare that one broke, but the cafe saved that one for her daily coffee in. I was pretty satisfied when I realized moments later this was my “Ramit challenge” for the day. Another time I started a conversation… Read more »
Erynn
Erynn
3 years 8 months ago
I talk to people a lot, and have always had a pretty easy time with starting up conversations with strangers. However one of the things I’ve had to work on lately is talking to my fitness classes while they’re panting and sweating. While I’m walking around correcting form, people don’t want to hear just about posture and which muscles they’re working, I also have to be able to entertain them a bit, and build rapport through my stories. It’s been a real learning curve. It’s hard to know what engages people when they’re not able to respond verbally. But the… Read more »
Joe K
Joe K
3 years 8 months ago

At work today, I asked an ER nurse holding a large needle and syringe where she was planning on using it. ER nurses have great senses of humor.

Shweta
Shweta
3 years 8 months ago
Great.. this test often works very good with me.. wherever i go.. i do start a conversation with my neighbor ! And it always turns out helpful. The very recent one… I had been to a walkin drive for interview of a Giant IT company, hundreds of candidates came from long way. I cleared the first two rounds and was made to sit in different room with people with similar status. Only 15 people in the room and waiting for hours for next round. I was so bored to even sleep ! I started a conversation with a candidate next… Read more »
Cindi
Cindi
3 years 8 months ago
I started a conversation with an artisan chocolate maker at her store/factory. I simply asked her where she came from. When she responded she had lived in 4 countries, I asked in which country she learned to make chocolate. I then learned this was her fourth career over her lifetime – of completely different careers from chemist to fashion designer. It was a fascinating conversation and enriched me and inspired others who over heard it. It created a nice bond … she gave me more chocolate and I offered to contact some media sources to help her publicise her intriguing… Read more »
Natalie
Natalie
3 years 8 months ago
I read this email then a coworker I have only seen around here and there sat next to me in the downstairs lobby. I cheated, Ramit, and I picked a different topic (does that still count?) and since it’s Friday, I asked about weekend plans. So then, like all other Southern Californians, his plans consist of watching sports over the weekend. Sports is a great topic, isn’t it? I mean, so long as you can actually carry on a conversation I suppose, and so long as the conversation welcomes it. So now I have a new work buddy who came… Read more »
Karl Stelter
3 years 8 months ago
This used to be one of my most biggest problem areas coming out of college, and 3 years later with a lot of dedicated work (and equally awkward conversations) I’ve gotten to the point where I can confidently navigate through a conversation with someone I don’t know. In fact, I’m in negotiations to book some freelance videography work for one of the couple’s my wife and I met on our honeymoon – and we talked business once for 5 minutes at the end of a 7 day cruise. It’s a skill that is SO valuable and pays off like crazy.… Read more »
Tyler
Tyler
3 years 8 months ago
I rock climb three times a week and normally keep to myself. I asked a guy in the gym if he climbs alot and which locations he likes. It was awkward the entire time and so I changed the topic to asking him how to climb a particular route. Challenge accepted by Ramit; did it but failed miserably. Learned: I suck at talking to strangers and need to improve my social skills. On a side note, I was talking to my climbing partner about my finding an internship in accounting (right before leaving the gym) and a guy joined in… Read more »
PM
PM
3 years 8 months ago

I actually spoke to the checker at the grocery today (I rarely talk to people I don’t know). She had the line closest to the door and I noticed she was wearing a heavy coat. I told her she must have drawn the short straw today to get that line since there was a blast of cold air every time the door opened. She laughed and smiled and wished me a good day. It was not hard at all and I am looking forward to trying this in other situations. Thanks Ramit.

Jeff
Jeff
3 years 8 months ago

met a new guy at a meeting that gathers once a month, learned what he does and lives for. got the means to keep in touch when occasion arises.

Joseph
Joseph
3 years 8 months ago

I met a stranger at a church group tonight, struck up a conversation, ended up talking about music and its relation to the spiritual life. Come on, son!

Dariel Dato-on
Dariel Dato-on
3 years 8 months ago

Struck up a couple conversations at a bookstore and in the elevator. Found that most people are actually more than willing to entertain a conversation. However, they are always waiting for the other person to speak first.

Margarete
Margarete
3 years 8 months ago

I really never have an issue talking to strangers. I am the person that smiles and says hi to everyone if they make eye contact with me. I still tried this assignment though to a Target cashier and it worked! I used to work in retail and asking number 5 works every time. It just starts a conversation and it gets them to open up. I hope everyone had a great time trying the assignment!

Sandra
Sandra
3 years 8 months ago
I just came out of a taxi. I am an introvert but have learned to be more at ease talking to strangers from my husband. I now talk to taxi drivers all the time and had a great time. The ice breaker was him commenting how nice the guy was opening the taxi door for me. I still hear myself sometimes saying don’t freak these poor guys out by speaking too frankly. I take their questions as cue to continue. It was a blast. I will have to start talking to more random people though I often talk to food… Read more »
YvetteS
YvetteS
3 years 8 months ago

My hubby and I had breakfast out this morning at a coffee shop in a different part of town. I struck up a conversation with the two guys on the table next to us by asking if there was anything interesting in the newspapers they were reading. We ended up getting a great run-down on where to shopping and a recommendation for a book shop and art supplies close by. I’m challenging myself to do this more often. Thanks Ramit

Maxime
3 years 8 months ago

Not easy to meet a stranger in a small village where you know everyone.
Anyway, I went to the butcher and there was already a conversation about glasses. I joined it and it ended in a series of jokes. That was fun.
I still think I bombed it because I didn’t actually start a conversation with a stranger. I’ll try again.

Ana
Ana
3 years 8 months ago
I didn’t do it. Nor will I, because you told me to. Why? People are different and I have no problem doing that. Sometimes, I have long and nice chats on the busy with elderly people (I love elderly people, they always have a lot to teach!), sometimes I have chats with not-so-busy people at stores. It is nice, I like it and I am not bad at all with people! Nevertheless, two things I loved reading in your post. “TEST IT!” and “You need to TAKE ACTION!”. I am in the middle of doing that in an important area… Read more »
Madelain
Madelain
3 years 8 months ago
Started a conversation with a old gentelman from a different ethnic culture last weekend in a dodgy area of the province I live in. Long story short, we were driving to a destination, scouting out a running rout anlong a sectoun of coast which required us to enter a very poverty stricken area. In places like this, gangsters etc thrive. So I was on cautious mode, especially having my 4 year old son with me. Anyway, we all get out the car to eat lunch at a community picnick spot. Think dirty, the locals hanging out by their cars playing… Read more »
Teri
Teri
3 years 8 months ago
I am an RN so communication is important when re-assuring people having procedures, I am pretty OK with small talk. I am in the process of returning to the US after working in Europe for the last 7 years so my challenge at the moment is to find a position anywhere in the USA as most medical facilities are reluctant to hire anyone who has not worked in the states in the last 12 months. My networking skills are not what they could be but I am getting responses to phone calls and e-mails and my resume is now moving… Read more »
Matt
3 years 8 months ago

I went door to door around my neighborhood to find the owner of a cute stray dog. Struck up several conversations – but more importantly, I took my children and several of the neighborhood children too. It’s important to teach children how to communicate and/or for what they want in an intelligent, polite and effective manner.

Then, the next day, this girl must have read your blog because as she was walking in the hall outside of our office, she stopped me and introduced herself, etc.

MiKO
3 years 8 months ago
On Tuesday, I went to a ToastMasters club meeting. I met several members. I went because I wanted to get some practice at interviewing, and I dressed the part. It just so happens that the only talk that day was on interviewing. It reinforced what I knew, and it gave me the encouragement to give an impromtu speech on New Year’s goals. I don’t really do the resolution thing, but I was most grateful for the timeliness of the talk and the extra input I got on my trimmed down one page resume and on point cover letter. Later in… Read more »
Katey
Katey
3 years 8 months ago

Was sitting on the riverbank when a random guy came up to me and acknowledge my pretty dress.

Usually in these situations, I do the polite thank you and shut the conversation down.

However, this time just let the conversation roll. It was weird and we talked on the most randomest of topics. It went for a whole hour.

What I found fascinating was that I asked him his name within the first 3 – 4 sentences, but he never asked me for mine.

Dror
Dror
3 years 8 months ago

I’ve been out at a bar and noticed 2 ladies sitting on chairs behind the actual raw of bar chairs. Seemed as if they opened their own stand or something so I told them just that and was invited to join them so the new stand will grow 🙂

I did, and after 5 minutes of conversation I actually got the number from one of them… Must say it felt AWESOME!.

Jon
Jon
3 years 8 months ago
After reading the post I was all fired up and ready to take action! So I wandered down to my local corner shop to buy a newspaper and, seeing that there were no other customers around, simply said “how’s your day going? Looks fairly quiet” to the lady behind the counter. This lead to a twenty minute conversation about quiet days, busy days, interesting customers, where we both lived, my job, how the lady came to be the shop manager… All sorts! Fresh from what felt like quite a big achievement (I’ve lived here eight years and never really talked… Read more »
Michelle
Michelle
3 years 8 months ago

The awesome thing about this skill is that it reminds you “everyone has a story.”
I struck up a conversation with a cabbie who was incredibly well-dressed (shirt and tie, very well groomed,spotless cab…) – he gave me his thoughts about customer service and taking pride in one’s appearance, especially at work.

Absolutely worth getting out of my comfort zone for.

M

Katherine
Katherine
3 years 8 months ago

I started up a conversion with the mum next to me when our kids were in their swimming lesson. I am particularly pleased (yes, my bar was was low) because I did it more than once and with two different people. It wasn’t a great success as the conversation petered out pretty quickly, but as it is a weekly thing so we’ll have the chance again next week.

Jeanne
3 years 8 months ago
I decided to officially meet the people who work at the cafe/coffeeshop on the same block as my house that I visit about 2-3 times a week. I see the same folks every time I’m in there, but don’t know their names. So I said, “I’m in here a lot and see you a lot, but I don’t know your name. I’m Jeanne, nice you meet you.” She said she was Anna and asked if I knew about their punch card since I’m in there all the time. Turns out you get a punch for every purchase over $5 and… Read more »
Denise
3 years 8 months ago
I can talk to anybody from 2 to 102. Ramit’s advice is spot on and it is a great skill to have. Two things to do that might help especially if your really nervous: 1. Choose someone 10 + years older then you. Older people are use to being ignored by younger folks and they are eager to chat. If your 20, try someone 40 +. If your 40, try someone 60+. I do this all the time and learn a lot in the process. 2. Instead of thinking about what you are going to say, after you use one… Read more »
Zeke
Zeke
3 years 8 months ago

Good point, Denise. I concur. And an important thing to remember, a good conversation/chat/discussion is about listening, not being a chatterbox. So, icebreakers are good to start, but then keep listening and you may win a friend in a longer run.

nicolas
nicolas
3 years 8 months ago

I introduced myself to a new consultant at work. Like a dork, I couldn’t pronounce his 20+ syllable name. But he was cool about it, laughed and said, “Just call me Dean.” It turns out he’s from Chicago, one of my all-time favorite cities.

Jordan
Jordan
3 years 8 months ago

Before the actual conversation, I called this bassist who I really wanted to work with on a gig, but had never had the guts to call him. I was super happy I finally worked up the nerve to do it. Then at the gig, on our first break, I just went up and asked him, “Have you been working much around town lately?” Turns out he’s incredibly easy to talk to, and we really enjoyed playing together. I’ll be calling him again.

Joy
Joy
3 years 8 months ago
I found that I can start a conversation, carry it, but my ending leave much to be desired. Spoke with a woman at the Whole Foods Store about the vitamin supplment she was purchasing. Conversation opener was easy since, she educated me on the suppliment and why she chose it. However, I found that as the conversation drew to an end, it was difficult for me to say “thanks for the information consider it next time I have purchase more XXXX. Have a nice day” and leave. It seems like if I left, I was rejecting her…but as the person… Read more »
Shiggi
3 years 8 months ago
I’ve literally thrown myself into a completely different direction of work towards the end of last year. After a few months of gearing up to 20 days or so of “super split-second friends” at the Olympics in London, I’ve shifted over to working in a gym as I want to be a PT of sorts, but knew my social skills sucked (i.e. I’d say Hi…I mean: smile a quick smile then avoid eye contact if they weren’t interested) so where I am at the moment they have this thing called “Every Member Every Time”…to be honest I still crap my… Read more »
Akhil
Akhil
3 years 8 months ago
Since college, I have noticed that my “swagga” as such has declined significantly. Specifically with being able to fluently introduce myself and start conversations in a non-business environment. I feel that I excel at this in more formal settings but wish to reinstate the big man on campus feel that I lost after moving to a new city. Last night I went to a wine tasting where people from several walks of life gathered. As per your advice I took it as a game and made it a point to introduce myself to at least 3 people one of which… Read more »
Diana R.
Diana R.
3 years 8 months ago

I noticed a fantastic chalk drawing on the board at a cafe and told the cashier how much I liked it. She turned out to be the manager and was happy to tell me about how she looks for artistic talents when hiring. One of her staff members is the chalk artist and another sings while working. It was pleasant to chat a little while picking up my latte. (Thanks, Ramit, for telling me that it’s OK to buy lattes and focus on big wins! And I’m looking forward to your megapost.)

Elise
3 years 8 months ago
I’m not sure if this is cheating, but after reading your challenge, I realized that I did it earlier morning. I went to this Newly Opened High-End Tea shop here in the Philippines on my way home just because I got curious. Though their products were really pricey and I had no plans of buying them, I still pushed through and talked about the teapots, and how are they used. I even got useful tips on ‘correctly brewing tea’. I think people, especially in the service history, is very willing to share their expertise with you, if you ask the… Read more »
Frank
Frank
3 years 8 months ago

I dropped by a burger joint for a quick lunch. It was not really busy but very slow service. The guy in front of me commented that it was slower in Taos. After I got my burger I walked over and asked him if I could join him for lunch (which I have never even considered doing before). He said, “Sure. Sit down.” We talked about living in Taos, his planned move to somewhere warmer in Arizona, his family in town. It was a very pleasant half hour and a surprisingly easy conversation.

David
David
3 years 8 months ago
I was at the gas station, waiting to pay at the cashier. There was a small, retired guy in front of me. He turned back once to look at me. When he look back the second time, I started the conversation. Me It looks like it is going to rain ( it was sunny in the morning ) Old man : I don’t know but I just come back back from my sugarshack and the snow is wet and heavy. We kept talking for almost 5 minutes, both had paid the gas and kept talking. I found out where is… Read more »
Jorge
3 years 8 months ago

Hello from Spain.

Today I went to the swiming pool with my 2 kids… at the end of the sesion i was spoken with another dad about the children… It was so interesting because he told me about his kids and he asked my about the possibility of another son/daugnter in the future.

My answer was, “it depens of my personal finance situation” in the next years, fortunalety i am in the path of more financial freedom… so Who knows?

Saludos desde España!!!

Kati
Kati
3 years 8 months ago

I talked to the guy and girl standing in line before me, while waiting to get our coats. It really was a nice way to pass the time, and since standing in line is normally really boring I think it’s one of the best places to strike up a conversation.

Eric Chiang
Eric Chiang
3 years 8 months ago
This morning I chatted with a stranger at a deli store nearby where I live. He was waiting for his breakfast order, and so was I. The conversation: Eric: What did you get for breakfast? The guy: Nothing special, the usual eggs and stuff. This place takes a while. Eric: I remember once when I came here there were a bunch of school kids getting breakfast.. The guy: Oh yeah, that’ll be an impossible wait, gotta go somewhere else. Kids come here because the candies. The principal don’t allow junk food like these (mentioning the candies/snacks), more of a health… Read more »
Kristin S
Kristin S
3 years 8 months ago

Well I try to do this all the time, but sometimes it works better than others. Most recently, I was at the bakery and started talking to a woman about the types of dogs that were outside, and we had a conversation for about 5 minutes. So over all it went well, but I think I will take this one step further and talk to someone about what I do for work to see how that goes.

Colleen
Colleen
3 years 8 months ago

Went to the grocery store in a snowstorm last night asked the check out girl how’s your night going? Has it been busy? We had a bit of a chat and I headed back out into the storm

CayBay
CayBay
3 years 8 months ago

Striking up conversations and talking to strangers is my default mode – living in San Francisco really mixes it up and yesterday was no different! I did bump it up a notch for discussion’s sake, and chatted with folks a little more than usual so yeah, I get how I can definitely be more intentional about this within my professional network.

Rose
3 years 8 months ago

I talked to the woman in line at the dry cleaners with me, by saying “wow they are really busy today.” We exchanged a few sentences but that was it. Talking to random people has always been hard for me, so it did feel awkward, but I was glad I took the first step. In hindsight, that questions “busy, huh?” doesn’t really give people much to say back except, “yup, busy.” I need to start asking better questions that are more open-ended.

Lauren
Lauren
3 years 8 months ago

I struck up a conversation with the cashier in the checkout line. I went on a cookie run for me and some of my coworkers, and joked that we had a cookie craving at the office. The cashier laughed, we asked how each other’s days were going, and she told me to enjoy the snacks. Not much of a conversation but it was nice to smile and laugh unexpectedly with someone else!

Natacha
Natacha
3 years 8 months ago

I talked to a friend of a friend at that party just randomly, and he told me about his studies (air-traffic controller) which is what I wanted to do before failing at the entrance exam and going to engineering school. And this idea woke up in me, he explained me I could still take the exam, and with the skills I have now and I hadn’t when I fail, I could pass the exam. But that would mean another three years of studying…

AD
AD
3 years 8 months ago
Scenario: Info meeting to join a beginner triathlete training program Talked to one of the organizers after the presentation. I apologized for being late, and asked her to confirm that “all ability levels are welcome” and then to clarify if there is a baseline level of fitness expected in order to participate. Result: Her answer was “be able to move for 20 minutes” – and then we spoke further about fears/anxieties around weak sports and how to overcome them. The reassurance was useful to me because “ability to move for 20 minutes” is more concrete to me than “all ability… Read more »
Nathan
Nathan
3 years 8 months ago

Yesterday I bought a new (used) vehicle and had to take it in to get the plates. Rather than the typical get in and get out I was determined to have a conversation with whomever was helping me. My opening line was “which style of plate is most frequently requested.” The woman behind the counter was more then happy to answer.

Saunders
Saunders
3 years 8 months ago
I probably would have done it anyways, but your article gave me an extra to strike up a conversation with the other people waiting to be served at the vet today. I introduced my dog and got everyone into a discussion about their pets and their favorite pet memories, etc. If I hadn’t I get the feeling that everyone would have just sat there awkwardly waiting to be served. At the end of high school I was incredibly antisocial, but living in close proximity to a bunch of other decent people in a dorm freshman year forced me to get… Read more »
Ric
Ric
3 years 8 months ago
I was out getting my hair cut this morning, (or you could say all of them cut… ba-dum), and I asked some random lady there about the salon’s new addition. FYI this addition a certain type of spa treatment inside a salt cave. She said she had never used it, so we asked one of the girls working to explain. The girl started to, then just said she’d give us a tour. The three of us walked into the salt cave where the girl proceeded to give expert detail and explanation. The lady sounded way impressed and said she’d book… Read more »
Jesse
Jesse
3 years 8 months ago
I used to be super awkward in public, and have used scripts as training wheels to start convos before. Now my girlfriend talks all the time about how I make friends with everybody (especially charming waitresses and old black women… best super-power ever). The idea of using a script again was terrible! I thought, “I can talk to anybody, I don’t need to do this! Everyone will know something is weird about me!” But of course the point is to TEST something repeatedly. If I need to do that, I’ll embrace my weirdo. Test: “Is it a busy day? It… Read more »
jesse
jesse
3 years 8 months ago

I think the secret is that I’m commenting on how busy it is. Maybe that makes the waitress more attentive… we shall see MOOHOOHUAHUAHUA!!!

Korine
Korine
3 years 8 months ago

I think just interacting with someone when they don’t expect you to speak to them can brighten someone’s day. I got a smile out of one of the cleaning staff at my gym. Thanks Ramit

Werner
3 years 8 months ago

I’ve always been a quiet, reserved type – but I’m lucky. My wife is one of those who can strike up a conversation with anyone, anywhere and it’s rubbing off on me. We go to a weekly wine tasting and I’ve been striking up concersations with folks there. Anyhow, I was in a social situation and noticed this young woman, with some tatoos, talking about selling some art. Bingo! I asked her about that art and if she had a picture of it. This led to a group conversation for about an hour…

El
El
3 years 8 months ago

Great post! Whenever I meet someone at work I always compliment them on something they have at their offices. Always a great icebreaker

GKV
GKV
3 years 8 months ago

I’ve been trying this for a few months.

I like to sit down with people at crowded cafes and start a conversation with them. If I see them reading a book on a topic I know something about, I’ll ask them something like, “Are you interested in Greek Mythology? I was reading about Homer last week and the article said [whatever it said]. What is your opinion about [the article’s view].”

This starts up a conversation about half of the time.

shirley
3 years 8 months ago
I am one of those persons that talks to anyone (and the wind – haha) – often out of curiosity. The payoff? Little gifts from the chat – chuckle, learn something new (place, event, book, app, website, etc.), find something/someone we have in common, and/or beginning of a new friendship. Small world. I was in a shoe store and asked a woman if she was going to add the shoes that she was trying on to her collection (an easy and obvious chat in a shoe store). I learned about her collection and how she felt about the shoes she… Read more »
Greg
Greg
3 years 8 months ago
Today I talked to an interviewer (for an interview–hey, I hadn’t met them), and a woman buying a cat in a Petco. Nothing interesting worth posting, but I’ve got a better story. I’ve been doing things I was uncomfortable with but knew I needed to for the past few weeks. The other day, I was in a hotel lobby, and I struck up a conversation with the concierge. He was from Kenya. I asked if he noticed anything, and at first he seemed very careful not to offend in any way. At all. So, I told him an interesting story… Read more »
Rick
3 years 8 months ago
I used a variation of your canned line above, spoke to the mailman. Since it was raining yesterday and it was turning all the snow into that delightful mixture of mud and slush, I said hello and remarked on what a terrible day it was to have to deliver the mail. We bantered about the weather while he found all the junk mail addressed to me, and then he went on his way. This is the sort of challenge that varies in degree for me. I can be relaxed with talking to people if I’m feeling good about myself. If… Read more »
Mary Lynn
Mary Lynn
3 years 8 months ago
I can easily talk to anyone I bump into. That’s not a problem. Attending cocktail parties and mixers by myself is a very different situation, in my opinion. You’re “trapped” in the room with the other people. It’s awkward to end the conversation and move on, especially if the other person is left standing alone. Also, I find it hard to break into a conversation. One-on-one or at a dinner party, where you have time for longer, more meaningful conversations, I have no problem. But at a cocktail party by myself, I’m a complete wallflower. My friends are shocked to… Read more »
Annika S
3 years 8 months ago

Mary, I’m exactly the same way – short meaningless conversations with the checkout operator, the repairman, no problem, but social ‘mingling’.. argh! It makes me want to run and hide! I just don’t know what to talk about! I’m sure Ramit has something related to this lined up, if not then I guess the answer is: test it!! 🙂

Evah
Evah
3 years 8 months ago
I’m very awkward around people, but when I notice the same fear in the people around me, I feel like I have an upper hand on them. This happened recently on campus when a few of us were invited to join a society. I saw that everyone was nervous(in my mind this puts us on the same playing field) and that gave me the confidence to ‘break the ice’ and start a conversation on the impending meeting. Consequently, this gave me the same confidence to be able to answer questions directed to us by the speaker without feeling like people… Read more »
Andrew Emmert
Andrew Emmert
3 years 8 months ago

last night, while I was waiting around for dinner, I started a conversation with Vera.

I started out with a canned line on how I appreciated that she wore a scarf that day, and how that’s not a fashion sentiment that gets reflected through the younger generations. This got us started off on where she bought the particular item in question and how different her kids sensibilities are from hers.

all in all, it was a fun little diversion for a few moments.

Paige
Paige
3 years 8 months ago
Walking home from work yesterday it has started to rain, a woman walking her dog was coming towards me with a plastic bag on her head. I smiled and said “Nice hat!” and she replied “Only if my dog doesn’t have to poop.” haha! Great first challenge! In addition to striking up a conversation, it’s important just to acknowledge someone’s presence. I don’t mind making small talk or chatting anyone up for that matter. In my profession (archivist/librarian), being outgoing has set me apart from quite a few of my colleagues. It takes practice to become comfortable with the art… Read more »
Todor
Todor
3 years 8 months ago

I tried to talk to the service at the bakery I go on Saturdays. I asked her whether she was new there because I haven’t seen her so far. She answered but seemed to be surprised and a bit embarrased – so it was a very short talk.

Brent
Brent
3 years 8 months ago
I already do this to break out of my fundamental shy mode anyway, so I’m gonna consider myself ahead of the curve because I’m always testing the results. 2 days ago I was in the coffee shop and the girl was in zombie mode. She told me the price of my coffee was $2.55. I said “how much?” and again she said “$2.55” At this point I paused and held her eyes for about 3 seconds, asking “Aare you sure that’s the price?” and smiled. This is my favorite part – I could physically see her brain kicking her out… Read more »
Kane
Kane
3 years 8 months ago
I went into Potbelly for a sandwich and decided to talk to the guy ringing me up. I asked how business has been after the holidays. He went on about how its continued to stay busy especially through the weekdays and how the weekends are oddly very slow. He continued with thanking me for my business and I was on my way. I didn’t say much after that opening line. I decided that I’m really bad at small chit chat conversations and will have to test this out further. But, I also realize that some people, when asked a simple… Read more »
Robyn
Robyn
3 years 8 months ago
Ramit, This post oozes with authenticity. As always, thank you for being a stand for that. The real take away for me was the reminder that change is uncomfortable and that the willingness to take steps into the uncomfortable is the way I get to take responsibility for my life and for my desired feeling of empowerment. So solid. Now we’re cookin’! I chatted up a really nice cute guy about his dog using the canned response and it turned into a one hour conversation during which we grabbed a coffee. I’m normally quite chatty as per your examples but… Read more »
Annika S
3 years 8 months ago

I use these scripts all the time! As a waitress myself, I find it really awkward just standing around waiting for the other person (repairman, checkout person) to do their job, so I always ask “how’s today going – are you nearly finished?” We then mutually grumble a bit about work & life, even if I’m actually having a great day, it’s easier to just agree & go along with what they say. Boom, awkward silence sorted!

Oz
Oz
3 years 8 months ago
Had a chat with the checkout clerk at one of the local charity thrift stores. The store puts up a new window display every month of fancy/unusual items and auctions them off, and I went in to put a bid on something I saw there (a vintage animal pelt, some kind of exotic cat). I asked the clerk about it, and she mentioned she wished she could put in a bid herself, so we started talking taxidermy. (Yeah, I’m a weirdo like that, but apparently so is she.) Pleasant but brief exchange that got cut short when she had to… Read more »
Ruth
Ruth
3 years 8 months ago

I asked one of the nurses at my work if she was working on the weekend (I normally would have sat watching the TV screen and listening to other conversations). We ended up having a conversation with the whole group of staff in the lounge that led to a lot of deeper issues and what needs to change about the world. I’m sold!

Trevor
Trevor
3 years 8 months ago
I tried twice, with mixed results. The first time, I was by myself in the food court, and I approached a family and asked if I could sit down and eat with them. They were very amiable, and we started chatting. It only lasted about 5 minutes, before they excused themselves. The next time, I saw a gaggle of people, and I asked a girl standing there what was going on. She told me about the event, and I asked a couple of questions. I then left, as she was giving me a bit of a weird look. It was… Read more »
Daniele
Daniele
3 years 8 months ago

I love meet new people. I was at the grocery store where i saw this lady with a cute hairstyle. I approach her and asked her who is her hairstylist because her hair was beautiful. From that point she began talking about how long she have been going to her hairsylist & how great her stylist is. I told her I was looking for a new hairstylist. The conversation was great and she gave me the contact info for her hairstylist.

Richard
Richard
3 years 8 months ago
I retired from a high school about a year ago . So interaction with high school kids is sometimes viewed with suspicion by them, so starting a conversation could be tough. One day I was called on to do a repair on a heating/cooling unit in a class room. I was asked by one of the students how I knew how to fix it. I replied This is why you have old people! After that I would hear Hey! Old Man How do you fix this or that? ( I’m only 73). From that time on talking from them to… Read more »
Rosa Boone
Rosa Boone
3 years 8 months ago
I just spent $23 to talk to a complete stranger. Since moving back to my hometown, I have been holed up in the house with work, thus my social skills have suffered. I decided to take your challenge to test if I still had it. I ordered take out from a new pizza joint to enhance my chances of meeting a stranger. I actually per-ordered my meal on their website last night (since I am working today) to test their punctuality as well. About 15 minutes before they were set to arrive, I practiced my lines in the mirror and… Read more »
Samir Penkar
3 years 8 months ago
I smiled at the guy next in line with me at the grocery store. He asked, ” Where are you from?” “India,” I said. “You know my heart surgeon is an Indian, his wife is a doctor too and how their son is studying medicine.” He continued,”I really admire you Indians, you are so well mannered, well educated and intelligent. What do you do?” he asked me. “I am a project manager,” I said. And we spend some time talking before I checked out. About a minute or two of interaction, really felt good after that. Thanks Ramit. It’s easy… Read more »
Jeff
Jeff
3 years 8 months ago

I started a conversation with a jazz guitarist after his set at a coffee shop I frequent. I am a guitarist myself, and I got the contact info for his teacher. I’ve been wanting to find a good teacher/mentor and start taking lessons again. All it took was one simple conversation.

Don
Don
3 years 8 months ago

At the dry cleaners, there was a new guy behind the counter. I asked if he was busy or slow today, and he said busy. Then he mentioned that was better than the alternative. Laughing, I told him I didn’t recognize him; he said he had just started working there, but that he was also applying for a job with a jeweler, and that he was planning on going back to school. People do seem to like to talk about themselves.

Peter
3 years 8 months ago
This is pretty easy for me. Its keeping the convo going that gets trickier. For this task I just asked a lady how old here kid was. She told me, then started telling me about how they tried to put him in an older class but he was to crazy so he is back in the younger class. She kept going but then he started to run away :). Anyways, first task was easy. I’m going to continue putting myself in uncomfortable situations till I get good at this :). I recently became an organizer of an entrepreneur meetup in… Read more »
Isabell
Isabell
3 years 8 months ago
So last night a few friends and family got together for my cousins birthday at a local restaurant/bar……..while we were all hanging out at the bar, I saw a guy order some frozen concoction that was all dressesd up with pineapples and cherries on the rim of the glass. Im not a fan of frozen drinks but it actually looked pretty tasty! Usually, I’m sooo afraid to talk to strangers and people who I infind intimidating so much to the point that I have to medicate myself before going into social situations and don’t even get me started on public… Read more »
Luna
Luna
3 years 8 months ago
My job is talking to new people, and something I’ve learned recently is that while I’m great in formal situations, but I suck, SUCK at talking about myself, and other people’s egotism only goes so far! At work this is easier as I play a character, but one on one as ‘myself’ it feels terrible. I talked to a stranger yesterday while walking the dog. They asked if their kid could pet her and I said yes, apologized for how excited she was, and went on my way. While I am capable of talking to people, lots of people! spontaneously,… Read more »
Sean Morrissey
Sean Morrissey
3 years 8 months ago
Not sure if this really counts, since it was the night before you posted this, but I wound up striking up a conversation with a random dude on the train about Android ROMs because I noticed his Galaxy Nexus. (It also got my curiosity going about installing custom ROMs on a phone without an SD card, but this is beside the point.) It came across as typical awkward nerd conversation but was interesting nonetheless. The takeaway for me is that I tend to be a lot more open to starting a conversation when something about the person catches my attention.… Read more »
Joe
Joe
3 years 8 months ago

This is definitely a hard one for me but using these as a starting off point really helps. I was in a book store today and tried the “Is it usually this quiet?” line. The small talk just flowed from there.

It seems like once you show that you’re open to “trivial” small talk and even slightly interested, you give the other person the permission to make small talk.

Deborah
3 years 8 months ago
I usually strike up a conversation with anyone, because I like ppl and love to find out all about them. I usually learn something from them and then that knowledge prepares me for using it with someone else I talk with, so it’s a win-win. I was in a long line during the holidays at the Post Office when a woman I did not know came up to me and asked if I had 3 boys and said she thought I used to live next door to her. I said, no I don’t have 3 boys, I have 2 and… Read more »
Shane
3 years 8 months ago

A woman sat next to me on a flight, and I asked her, “what book are you reading?”

I ended up talking to her for an hour. I learned a ridiculous amount about the perspective of libertarians on everything from gun control to how poor people don’t have enough willpower. Also got a potential contact for graduate school.

Howard
Howard
3 years 8 months ago

I did this experiment at a local mall and used the “How your day’s approach, I bet it has been busy.” The thing that struck me is that how most people just gave short answers and did not continue conversation. But this morning while getting my oil change I started talking to the guy sitting next to me and started asking him about his iphone and he started showing it to me and all the features he liked on it.

Andrea
Andrea
3 years 8 months ago
I can usually start a quick conversation with the smallest effort to get over that hurdle. Like many, I just don’t try that hard. Yesterday, I spoke to an all but stranger…you know the kind, the guy that has always come to empty the trash at work and our everyday conversation is “hi” and “thanks” and “have a good weekend” but neither of us really ever said anything more than that. This time, I asked what his weekend plans were and found out he is a professional musician playing trombone is a group playing salsa music. He considers his day… Read more »
jared
jared
3 years 8 months ago
I started a conversation with Mr. Mulder, a 97-year-old man who retired from GM as a “tool and die man.” We chatted in a coffee shop, where Mr. Mulder shared stories from his life, and passionately shared his second career…writing and self-publishing religious books. He shared his struggles with getting the local Christian bookstore to properly market his books, life stories about his kids and grandkids, and his interactions with other “potential customers.” What a fascinating experience! I don’t normally struggle with speaking to people I don’t know, but your challenged caused me to dive deeper into the conversation. The… Read more »
Aaron
Aaron
3 years 8 months ago

I tried the “busy day” comment while picking up some dry cleaning and ended up in a conversation about dogs and houses and other random things with the girl at the counter and the woman behind me in line.

Amanda
3 years 8 months ago
I took my kids to a birthday party today. While sitting next to one of the other moms, I asked her how her kids knew the birthday boy. Turns out our kids all go to the same school, her kids have been to day camps at my church – and when I told her I’m a photographer, she said “no way -the photographer we’ve used for years has moved and we’ve been needing to find another one!” I then showed her some of my galleries on my phone and added her to my email list (with her permission, of course!)
Et
Et
3 years 8 months ago

It tried and totaly fucked up. instat of me talking to the girl with the dog, she talked to me. the waitres had a hard day but told it to the other waitres, not me. and i talked to a shop guy, but only business. i just can not talk to someone without a reason. i found out that doing smalltalk to strangers is total impossible for me. are there even smaller challenges to start with? i think i couldnt even say hello. this is kind of depressing.