How to Talk to Strangers
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How to Talk to Strangers

Communicating with people is an art that seems to have changed with time. Good form, and good manners should never go out of style.

Every day a person may find themselves involved with someone they have never spoken to before.  Some of these people will be acquaintances, or other people you may have seen before, but others may be complete strangers and this is your first opportunity to communicate with them.

Whether a person is right in front of you or is familiar through social networking sites, it is important that you try to understand the views of others.  There is a distinct change in the atmosphere of most conversations between people of differing opinion.

A few tips for communicating with a new stranger may help get over the initial conflicts that may come up because of differing opinions or those who may not understand what you are trying to say.

When in Writing

There are so many social network, blog, forum, and article web sites available that it can make your head spin.  When you have introduced yourself into this type of system you open yourself up to people who will agree with you, pat you on the back, disagree but be polite, and those who will shove their opinion down your throat as though they have validity and ability to impose their will on others at a whim.

If you have control over the content of replies to your posts, try to personally keep a civil tone when addressing those who are more forecful and less respectful of the intent of the original article.  Having the ability to reject or delete an personally offensive post is usually the best method to just override their negative remarks.  If you are unable to remove the remark yourself then you can either contact a system administrator, or respond to the offender in such a way that validates their comments without retalliation.  After all, it is much less likely that your next article will be read if you respond angrily to negative input.

When in Person

It is much more difficult to be verbally abusive than to be obstinate in virtual communication.  When you are presented with someone who may have a different opinion than you, and you are passionate about your stance you may want to consider a couple of different, non angry actions.

Count to 10.

It worked when you were a child, and the advice still works today.  If someone presents their opinion as fact, if someone differs from you in any way, before you speak, you should really think about the way the presenter meant their idea to come out.  They may not have meant to cause negative feelings, and may be speaking about something they've heard more than what they believe.

Once you've counted to ten, you can speak with a more civil tone and can make sure that your response sounds thoughtful and not irrational.  You can always get someone to at least listen to you if you give yourself time to think about what you are going to say, and present it in a civil tone.

Honey is sweeter than vinegar.

Much like the old addage:  "You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar", if you want someone to hear what you have to say you should always be sure you speak in a frame of thought that will get others to hear what you have to say.  Shouting and berating your audience will do very little for your own cause and will do a great deal for mass exodus.

Tell people what they want to hear.

Even if you disagree with the person you've encountered, or not, it is always a good idea to validate their cause.  For example, if speaking about politics, you can hear what the person is saying, and tell them that you can appreciate specific parts of their conversation, but that you have a different opinion.  Ask them if they would like to hear your side, and if they agree, then talk to them about what you like, and do not like about their political candidate.

Regardless of who you are communicating with, or in what format you are doing it, be sure that you take the time to be nicer than the angriest person, and even nicer than the nicest person you would encounter.  In that way you know that your communication will not bother most people, that your words will not appear abrasive, and your responses will be given the opportunity to be acknowledged.

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Comments (2)

I am far from being shy online or in person. I usually wait in person till someone looks my way and smiles before I say hello. You give excellent tips for talking to strangers.

nice tips...I agree with Chris, it's what I do also