Five things I Learned Talking with a stranger over coffee.

Different people have different approaches to their first encounter. First date, first interview, first whatever, it all feels the same because it is foreign, that is why it is first. This can get even more complicated when it comes to dealing with people. You never know what people are going to say or do. So, how do you go about sitting in front of someone you do not know, talk to them for a good minute and benefit from the interaction without being creeped out or creeping them out? Let’s make it more interesting, how do you deal with someone, who from the first few seconds of meeting, you already know they are your complete opposite?  Below are five key points, I have learned and witnessed to be suitable for taking charge as well as contributing to any interaction and if done correctly, will produce fruitful results.

1.      Make eye contact;

a.      At one point or another, you have felt ignored, and I am sure you hated it. This holds true for everyone. By keeping eye contact, it shows that you are present and interested in what is going on. Do not be a creep through. Keep eye contact but the same time, don’t look like you are spacing out. Remember to blink and even look away at times. Staring directly into someone’s eye can get wired very quick.

2.      Ask relevant questions;

a.      Asking questions is does three things, it shows you are actively participating in what is going on, you are paying attention, and three you are interested and want to know more. This is a good thing because it keeps the conversation going.  Ask questions that keep the discussion going without changing the subject. It is very awkward bringing up something utterly unrelated to the present situation. Also, remember to take turns. Asking too many questions in a row will slowly tune things into an interview, and we all know how uncomfortable those are.

3.      When answering a question, offer something about yourself;

a.      In asking question, you are going to have to answer a few yourself. Don’t be stiff, answer the question you are asked, but in addition to your answer, offer something about yourself. This is very crucial in social settings than in professional settings but can still be beneficial in a professional setting and here is why. By offering something about yourself, it makes you more human making it so much easier to connect with you. This will lighten up the atmosphere. A light atmosphere enabled openness which brings forth more sharing, in sharing questions are created and so on.

4.      Pay Attention to your body language;

a.      Pay close attention to your disposition. People and keen to body language whether they want to or not. Are you up and alert of tired and lethargic? Whatever it is you are projecting is what the other person is going to emulate. For reasons I cannot explain, we as people tend to soak up the energy of those around us, so your body language can make or break your first encounter.

5.      Stay Collected;

a.      Basically, what this means, is get a hold of yourself and get your life. Look like you belong. What does this mean? This required you to pay attention to the other four things listed above which will allow you to gauge the direction of the situation. While anyone can come up with a series of step to handling everyday interaction, the truth is, people are unpredictable, so you have to be able to make a decision on the go and adjust yourself accordingly based on what you see is happening. Why is this important? During your first encounter, you do not know the other person and so what is typical for you is not typical for everyone, so pay close attention.


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