Starting a Conversation with a Stranger

April 10, 2007 - Get free updates of new posts here

This post is part of User Generated Tuesdays. If you want to be read by 1,200+ new friends please go here. If you want to post something today check out Okdork Public. This post is written by Jonathan Hudson, professional relationship expert and helper to men world-wide.

Hi, my name is Jonathan, and Noah has asked me to write a weekly piece on meeting and dating people. I was the co-founder of a company called Charisma Arts, and used to travel around the world to teach men how to talk to women. These days, I am starting another business in an unrelated industry, but this is still fun to write about and share. Please visit me at for more of this sort of writing.

I used to have terrible approach anxiety the fear of walking up and talking to new people.
As I would learn, this is very common and leaves many men and women sad, alone, and undersexed. Most of the time, the causes of approach anxiety are pretty simple: you don’t know what to say, or you’re afraid of being rejected when you say it.

For a long time, my way of dealing with approach anxiety was to get my friends to approach women for me not such a great way to learn. More adventurous men came up with conversation starters that they would test methodically. For example, there were stories like the “jealous girlfriend opener,” refined over many introductions. We’re not talking the old “are you an angel, because..?” cheesy stuff. We’re talking heavy duty stories that were built to engage women in specific ways. My company often advocated that men drop these our suggested opening line was “Hi, my name is __________” but from time to time we let a guy continue to use these “canned” stories if they were working for him.

As the years went by and I learned and taught and eventually got used to introducing myself to lots of new people, things began to gel. I realized why canned openers were working for some guys and not for others, and how that principal was more broadly applicable. When a guy believed that one of these openers would start a conversation, he often delivered it with a confidant playfulness. The times that someone failed, I could see that it wasn’t the material, but his lack of faith in the material and subsequently poor delivery. But what happens when you strip away the material and keep the delivery?

Ah-ha! Like so many things in life, the fundamentals of saying hello to a person are far more important than the flourishes. What it ultimately comes down to is the vibe you give off, not the words you say. A simple truth, yes, but one that is easy to forget when the new object of your attention is five feet away and words aren’t coming to your mouth.


Think about a person in your life who makes you smile.
Like, you just can’t help but smile when you think about them. For me, it’s Noah, because he is always talking about burritos and that’s kind of cute. Maybe for you it is someone else. In any case, think about that person’s vibe the easy happiness they exude. That is the vibe that opens conversations.

Easy happiness. Such a hard thing to achieve. But look: that person you’re approaching is as nervous about bringing a new person into their life as you are. Any nervousness you carry with you as the initiator of the interaction is going to be picked up by that person very quickly. As the de-facto leader of the interaction, its your responsibility to start it off an easy, happy vibe and energy.

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9 responses to “Starting a Conversation with a Stranger

  1. Wendyness Reply

    That’s what my friend and I call our “mojo.” It’s simply putting someone at ease with your ease 🙂

    P.S. Noah, pls take me to good burrito here soon 🙁 I’m starting to go through withdrawals.

  2. Shivani Reply

    i think it’s easy to say hello, but keeping the conversation going is always the difficult part for me.

    i like you, so yes, noah, bring him back 🙂

  3. sri Reply

    Nice…i want your thoughts!! keep up coming. Sometimes I love to talk to strangers just for a conversation….can u come up with a way where someone can just chat up another person without them thinking we are hitting on them?

    My favorite line:
    “Can I buy u a drink or do u just want the money…”

  4. JR Reply

    With a complete straight face say: “I seemed to have lost my Congressional Medal of Honor – have you by chance seen it?” Brenden Frasier – Blast from the Past. LOL. If pulled off correctly ridiculously wicked funny. Results may vary – works well after a friendly shot.

  5. Devin Reply

    I’ve read a few articles that all suggest this as well (it’s about how you say, not what you say). In any case, I like Jon, keep it coming. 🙂

  6. Mo Reply

    Thanks for the post Jon. Please keep posting. My favorite line, would you like to buy me a drink??!! Warning: 50% of the time, the answer will be NO