I love meeting new people. I’m wired that way.
Last night my daughter performed in Kids For Kids choir concert, with about a hundred kids from local Auckland schools. I went with my best friend, ready to have a night together ooohing and ahhhing and our adorable kids up on stage. However, I made a new friend. My new friend was in the seat next to me and as we exchanged pleasantries (“I think I’m sitting beside you”) I immediately noticed his scottish accent and began a conversation. By the end of the night I knew a great deal about his family and life, in a non stalkerish way. My friend laughed at me. I make new friends. It’s what I do.
Today I made another new friend. At my daughter’s gymnastics competition. She has had a busy few days! This woman was again beside me but this time I was hoping to grab the few hours for some SAS marking. As I was marking she interrupted politely and asked what I was doing. Before you know it the gymnastics was over and certificates were being handed out.
But I am very aware that not everyone finds it a delight like I do. Here are my 5 surefire ways to feel confident in a conversation with someone new.
Ask questions. Even simple questions like “how was your week?”” “did you grow up around here”” can begin conversations and meaningful connection. And when you’re asked a question, give an answer they can work with. Did you grow up round here. No. This worked very well with Mark, my scottish friend. “you’ve got a great accent, where are you from? have you lived in New Zealand long? how are you settling in?”
Find common ground. Use those simple questions we just talked about to dig a bit deeper and find the commonalities between you. Those things you have in common create a sense of “me too”, you’re like me, we could be friends.
Celebrate the differences. Of course there are people we meet that are wonderfully different that we are. You might be into downtown abby, but the person you’re talking with might be a die hard Die Hard fan. That’s okay. Celebrate the differences. Use it again to ask more questions and peel back the layers. “how did you get into that?”
Take it to the next level with these 5 magical words. “That’s interesting, tell me more. ” This question is my golden ticket to friendship land.
Be yourself. Oh how we need you to be you. You are created by God, fearfully and wonderfully made. You have a story and a journey and wisdom and greatness. Share it. Be it.