A few days ago, someone asked me about making new friends while traveling. Specifically:
How do I get people to talk to me without going up to say “Hi, my name is…”?
The answer, naturally, was that they were asking the wrong question.
Every day, people walk around with emotional speed bumps around them. Staring into their phone, avoiding people asking for spare change, trying to not get involved in whatever drama their coworker is trying to start. People isolate themselves to keep out the constant stream of slightly annoying things in life. They might end up missing out on some good things, but it tends to all even out with the glorious benefit of making life far easier.
It takes a lot for someone to cross over their self-imposed speed bump to reach out to someone, and it usually only happens when they are left with no other options. Their email to customer support never got a response. They need to buy something, but can’t find it anywhere. Human contact has become a last resort for most people, even opting for the self-checkout over having to talk to an actual person.
This creates a kind of passive flow through life, only reacting to things that are strong enough to make it over your speed bumps. The biggest problem with this is that anyone determined enough to do this is trying to sell you something.
The full answer is that you need to smile and say “Hi, my name is…”. If this terrifies you, just remember that everyone else feels the same way, waiting for someone else to reach out. With just a few words and a smile, you can break through all of that and make a new friend.
Just to be clear, sometimes the person won’t turn out to be the kind of person you thought you would like, and sometimes they are just too busy to talk. No problem, it happens to everyone, and you just move on to the next interesting person. You lose 100% of the shots you don’t take, and you are upping your odds already.
Sometimes, every now and then, you will hit the jackpot. You will find that person you never would have talked to, but they turned out to be amazing. Those diamonds in the rough are the reason it’s all worthwhile.
Keep crossing speed bumps.