April 11, 2021
Nothing fills some of us with more anticipatory dread than having to talk to someone new. 
How To Talk To Someone You Have Nothing In Common With
We figure we’ll have nothing in common with the person. We’ll bumble through the conversation like Hugh Grant in a ’90s rom-com or say something that could be perceived as offensive, especially if the person seems outwardly different from us (a different generation, religion, socioeconomic status or education level, for instance). 
The fear is commonplace, according to Juliana Schroeder, an assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business whose research explores how people make social inferences about others. Many assume they’ll be ill-equipped to chat up the person sitting next to them at a dinner party, at a networking function or on public transportation, she told HuffPost. 
“Many of us think we’ll run out of things to say more quickly than we actually do, and that makes us misestimate the hedonic trajectory of the conversation,” Schroeder said. (That’s a PhD way of saying how enjoyable the conversation will be over time.)
When it comes to conversations with strangers, Schroeder knows her stuff. A 2014 study she co-authored used bus and train interactions to understand why people routinely ignore each other rather than look for common ground. (A crowded bus is filled with people from all walks of life, so it’s a particularly good place to study interactions.)
“We tested several possible psychological reasons for why people believe that talking to strangers will be unpleasant and found the most evidence for two reasons: concerns about social rejection and pluralistic ignorance,” she said.
In the study, pluralistic ignorance is defined as the belief that others are less interested in connecting with us than we are in connecting with them. 
“Everyone in our experiments said they would be more willing to talk than they thought others would be willing to talk,” Schroeder said. When it came to social rejection, most participants in the study believed that more than 50% of the people they approached would refuse to talk to them, but actually less than 5% of participants said that this happened to them.
“The fear of being socially rejected appears to be outsized,” Schroeder said. “People think that others don’t want to talk because they aren’t talking ― instead, others are wearing their headphones or playing with their phones. But just because they are doing that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be interested in talking.” 
Jeanne Martinet, author of “Mingling With the Enemy: A Social Survival Guide for Our Divided Era,” thinks that the majority of people have what she refers to as “minglephobia” ― a fear of talking to strangers at social gatherings.
“The unknown is always scary, but I think when it comes to talking to new people we are either afraid of looking foolish ― that we will say something stupid or be completely tongue-tied ― or are afraid of getting stuck in a conversation we’d rather not be in,” she told HuffPost.
The truth is, talking to people we don’t know can be as “invigorating and mind-expanding as traveling to far-off places is,” Martinet said.
Still, we’re working against strong evolutionary impulses. As humans, we have an evolutionary drive to form cohesive social groups, self-identify, then stick to those groups. Social tribalism, as it’s called, can play out in our political affiliations, religion, place of residence and social status.
This sense of tribalism affects our social health and adds to a growing divisiveness among Americans. Making the effort to talk to people outside your bubble ― people who don’t look like you or worship like you, or watch the same news channel as you ― is a way to bridge the divide. “We need to reach outward rather than retreating inward,” Martinet said. “The best kind of socialising doesn’t just lead to meeting new people, it leads to hearing different ideas and getting new information, hopefully forming new relationships.”
Still a little anxious about chatting up a stranger? Below, Martinet and other experts share their best advice for talking to someone you seemingly have nothing in common with. Go into the conversation assuming the other person will be interesting. Check your assumptions about how similar you may or may not be at the door, said Georgie Nightingall, the founder of Trigger Conversations, an organisation that offers events and training to help people create more meaningful conversations.
“Adopt a mindset that everyone is interesting and it is up to you to find out in what way,” she said. “This way your mind will be primed for discovery and curiosity.” 
Going into a conversation with that kind of openness ― and making a goal of finding out in what way someone is interesting ― can be a game-changer.
So, too, is understanding that you don’t have to have anything in common with someone to relate to them or find them interesting. You just need to be curious and have a desire to understand how the other person has experienced life, Nightingall said. 
“I don’t have to like their favourite hobby, for instance, to talk about it,” she said. “I can see it as an opportunity to learn about what they like about it.”Become a great listener. As a business entrepreneur in her early 30s, Dianna Booher began consulting for senior executives twice her age. During the day, Booher would lead two-day executive retreats and workshops. The evenings and all the social events she was required to go to were a different story. 
Her thought process walking into all those social gatherings was always, “What could I possibly have to offer that would intrigue?” 
“I knew these executives had much more business expertise and international travel experience than I did at that point in my life,” said Booher, who’s the author of “Communicate With Confidence.” “In my mind, everything I considered saying seemed mundane, simplistic and ‘beneath’ their level of interest.” Eventually she learned the trick to establishing a quick rapport: She didn’t need to supply fascinating conversation; she just needed to be a good listener. (It’s true; a 2017 Harvard Business School study found that asking questions, particularly follow-up questions, is the key to mastering small talk.)
“Most people love to talk about themselves ― so let them,” Booher said. “Ahead of any potential uncomfortable situation, prepare some general questions. Then ask away.”
Listen carefully, show interest and ask intelligent follow-up questions, she said: “The person will walk away thinking you are the best conversationalist they’ve ever met!” Come armed with a cheat sheet of good generic questions. If question-asking really is the cornerstone of smooth conversation, cut yourself some slack and have some generic questions at the ready, said Debra Fine, the author of “The Fine Art of Small Talk: How to Start a Conversation, Keep It Going, Build Networking Skills ― and Leave a Positive Impression.”“The worst time to come up with something to talk about is when there is nothing to talk about,” she said.Consider questions about hot topics in the news, a new trend you saw on TikTok, the holidays or pandemic life.You could also use the open-ended “what keeps you busy” prompt, Fine said. For instance:What keeps you busy outside of work?What keeps you busy outside of your kids?What keeps you busy outside of this class?Fine said to remember to ask some follow-up questions or encouraging statements, too. Things like: “I see what you mean.”“That sounds like fun”“What happened next?”“Give me an example of what you mean by that ...”Don’t be afraid to share something deeper about your personal life. It’s been proved that emotional self-disclosure can increase intimacy: You share something that occurred in your personal life ― even something that made you feel vulnerable ― and the other person feels a greater sense of connection. 
If you want someone else to share the “real” them and go beyond surface-level small talk, you may have to go first with self-disclosure, Nightingall said. 
“Sharing something that is meaningful to you ― who you really are, your thoughts, feelings and experiences ― can open the door and invite someone else to be their authentic self,” she said.
What you share doesn’t have to be something embarrassing from your past or some slip-up you made the other day. When meeting someone new, you can self-disclose even if all they ask you is, “How are you?”
“When someone asks that, I always share something meaningful about what I have been up to today, how I am feeling or what I am thinking,” Nightingall said. “It helps others become curious about me, and it invites others to reciprocate.”Prepare for the worst case scenario. If you do find yourself butting heads with someone with different views than yours, especially on a controversial issue, remember that it’s usually more valuable to make a connection with a person than it is to try to prove that you’re right. That’s certainly true if it’s a workplace conversation. 
If you’re wholly at odds, Martinet recommended “side-stepping” away from the subject that ran the conversation aground.
“In other words, rather than having a violent argument with someone who ispassionately on the opposite side of an issue like climate change, youcan side-step to talking about the worst snowstorms you both remember asa child, or the fact that people who live in rainy climates end upgetting fewer wrinkles,” she said.
Sometimes you’ll have to take several side-steps before you can continue forward productively, she said. But go into the conversation expecting good things. Prepare for the worst ― especially if you’re someone who relishes feeling prepared ― but go into the conversation expecting the best. Research has shown that talking to new people is a big mood booster, even if we fear going into the conversation initially, Schroeder said.
“Our study showed that the average person who talks to a stranger reports a happier mood,” she said. “People who were randomly assigned to talk to a stranger reported feeling happier afterwards compared to people assigned to do whatever they want ― which usually involves not talking to a stranger.”
We’ve all been there: Somehow, you’ve found yourself in a conversation with a person you have nothing in common with, someone who intimidates you or someone who won’t stop complaining. These kinds of interactions can be uncomfortable, to say the least. Our HuffPost series How to Talk to Just About Anyone will help you navigate these conversations and others. Go here for all the latest.Related...The Signs Your Conscientious Nature At Work Is Getting ToxicOpinion: We Need A National Day Of MourningWhy Insomnia And Burnout May Increase Your Covid Risk
Latest News
Top news around the world
Coronavirus Disease

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Around the World

Celebrity News

> Latest News in Media

Watch It
Christine Quinn felt ‘annoyed’ bringing up ex drama on ‘Selling Sunset’ | Page Six Celebrity News
November 24, 2021
glyJ2w62L9k
Which 'Selling Sunset' star didn't get invited to Heather's wedding? | Page Six Celebrity News
November 24, 2021
K-7VbTnMfbI
Jason Oppenheim gushes over Chrishell Stause romance, he's "in love" | Page Six
November 23, 2021
LmlntGyFYLE
'The Beatles: Get Back' Director Peter Jackson Joins Variety's Doc Dreams
November 26, 2021
K95MIzDth_A
Kevin Hart, Wesley Snipes, and Eric Newman Talk 'True Story' and Kevin's Acting Skills
November 23, 2021
PuTxxFD4tHM
Adam Driver, Jared Leto, and Jeremy Irons Talk 'House of Gucci'
November 22, 2021
u5QhOKbdsoA
"Vanderpump Rules" Star Katie Maloney Opens Up About Abortion
November 27, 2021
fMA1NRmZMTg
Ice-T & Coco's Daughter Teaches Grandma How To Twerk
November 27, 2021
0O9KoeqoPik
"RHOA" Star Falynn Pina Welcomes Baby Girl With Fiance
November 27, 2021
d2b5cZQ3tsA
Bebe Rexha Doesn't Need Awards to Validate Song Popularity | TMZ
November 28, 2021
a3J6tT4rIHU
Faizon Love Says 'Elf 2' Doesn't Need Will Ferrell, Time for Black Elf | TMZ
November 28, 2021
j3mubDgTYnU
Blac Chyna Weighs In on Omicron Variant & Unvaccinated People
November 27, 2021
-biXwe9YaNQ
TV Schedule
Late Night Show
Watch the latest shows of U.S. top comedians

Sports

Latest sport results, news, videos, interviews and comments
Latest Events
19
Nov
ASIAN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group H
Sydney FC - Shanghai SIPG
17
Nov
UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE A: Group Stage
Spain - Germany
14
Nov
UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE A: Group Stage
Germany - Ukraine
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester City - Liverpool
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Arsenal - Aston Villa
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Valencia - Real Madrid
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
AC Milan - Verona
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
West Bromwich Albion - Tottenham Hotspur
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Bologna - Napoli
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Genoa - Roma
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Atalanta - Inter Milan
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Lazio - Juventus
08
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Bayer Leverkusen - Borussia Monchengladbach
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Leicester City - Wolves
08
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Wolfsburg - Hoffenheim
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Valladolid - Athletic Bilbao
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Levante - Alaves
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Sociedad - Granada CF
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Torino - Crotone
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Getafe - Villarreal
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Borussia Dortmund - Bayern Munich
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Everton - Manchester United
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Chelsea - Sheffield United
07
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Atletico Madrid - Cadiz
07
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Barcelona - Real Betis
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Augsburg - Hertha Berlin
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Stuttgart - Eintracht Frankfurt
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
RB Leipzig - SC Freiburg
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Rotherham - Preston NE
07
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Parma - Fiorentina
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Watford - Coventry
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Norwich City - Swansea City
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Blackburn - QPR
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Derby County - Barnsley
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Huddersfield - Luton
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Nottingham Forest - Wycombe Wanderers
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
West Ham United - Fulham
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Sheffield Wednesday - Millwall
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Brentford - Middlesbrough
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Birmingham - Bournemouth
07
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Sevilla - Osasuna
07
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Benevento - Spezia
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Crystal Palace - Leeds
04
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group G
Ferencvaros - Juventus
04
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group G
Barcelona - Dynamo K.
03
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group A
Salzburg - Bayern Munich
03
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group D
Atalanta - Liverpool
Find us on Instagram
at @feedimo to stay up to date with the latest.
Featured Video You Might Like
zWJ3MxW_HWA L1eLanNeZKg i1XRgbyUtOo -g9Qziqbif8 0vmRhiLHE2U JFCZUoa6MYE UfN5PCF5EUo 2PV55f3-UAg W3y9zuI_F64 -7qCxIccihU pQ9gcOoH9R8 g5MRDEXRk4k
Copyright © 2020 Feedimo. All Rights Reserved.