ROTTERDAM – This one is going to be fun for those of us who have social anxiety. However, fear not, for a Great Man overcomes obstacles. In fact, a Great Man is extremely sociable:

In the United States, we’ve even mythologized the idea of the strong, silent man that keeps to himself. The reality, though, is that history’s greatest men were some of its most social. They were comfortable with anyone, in any situation, and understood the importance of reaching out to others and expanding their circle of influence.

I imagine there’s some truth to that. The strong, silent man that internalises everything and at some point maybe gets a bit violent. He is not allowed to show emotion and therefore resorts to physical violence. It’s a theme that is still regularly used in Hollywood depictions of masculinity, mostly in action movies. The woman pleads that they talk, the men just sits there and stares into the abyss, after which he goes out and kicks some ass.

A Real Man, however, does socialise. Even though it is apparently only to ‘expand their circle of influence’.

We are more and more isolated these days. We live in a neighborhood for decades and never get to know our neighbors. We sit in a pew at church for years and still know absolutely nothing about the people sitting in front of us. We don’t know the guys at work who are in a different department than we are, even though they’re just a few floors up.

This lack of social trust is not only bad for our communities, it’s bad for ourselves as well. So today we’re going to throw off our inner Jeffrey Dahmer and start up a conversation with people we don’t know….yet.

Here we are confronted again with the narrative of social isolation. We have encountered that before (RECONNECT WITH AN OLD FRIEND and TAKE A WOMEN OUT ON A DATE). In these modern times, the man is isolated from his fellow man, mostly. He seeks refuge in his relationship with a woman, who constantly nags and tries to “fix him”. No wonder he’s so silent and strong, I’d be pretty annoyed with that bitch too.

Why Talk to Strangers

There are several reasons why you might want to consider talking to someone else than your mother:

Make new friends. We’ve previously discussed the importance of male friendships. Men who have more friends tend to be happier and live longer than men who don’t have any good buddies. Many men, myself included, find making new friends to be a difficult task. But there are potential man friends all around us if we would just get out of our comfort zone and start talking to some strangers

The importance of male friendships we’ve covered already. Essentially, it’s like being bro’s, only with a bit more purpose to it. The article on the History of Male Friendships (link is in the quote) refers to the heroic friendships in Antiquity and the brohood of some funny-looking guys in 19th Century America. How these dudes are any different from us, – I am not sure. But, the fetishisation of the 19th Century is a recurrent theme in the Art of Manliness.

Meet a potential mate. A man’s fear of talking to strangers can potentially prevent him from finding the love of his life. If you’ve been lamenting the fact that you can’t find any good women, then you’re not looking hard enough. Look around you. The woman in the produce aisle squeezing cantaloupes could be your future wife. That girl sitting next to you in Economics 101 could be your soulmate.

There’s women everywhere. You just need to go out there and meet them. No need to use creepy pickup lines or wear a boa around your neck like that Mystery guy. Just be friendly and approachable, and you’re bound to meet someone with whom you’ll feel some sparks. I’m living proof of this benefit of talking to strangers. Because I was able to man up and strike up a conversation with a stranger, I met my wonderful and beautiful wife Kate.

You could be sitting next to her in the metro, or walk past her in the club. She could be right now where you are not. Meeting your soulmate requires such a miracle of coincidence I am ironically convinced that I will never really find her. There are 17 million people living in my country alone. 6 Billion on this planet. The love of my life could statisically get shot any second. Maybe she’s making a terrible life decision. Maybe she’s at the IKEA right now, and I’m not. And I will never meet her.

The credo “there’s women everywhere” does kinda contradict with the statement “soulmate” and “love of your life”, I find. And it’s true, you don’t have to use creepy pickup lines or wear a boa around your neck (?). Just start throwing chocolate and flowers until you’ve lured her into a corner.

Expand your business network

Increase your social skills

Learn new things

Boost your confidence. There’s something about talking with strangers that boosts my confidence. Maybe it’s the adrenaline rush of doing something that makes me a bit uncomfortable. I don’t know. All I do know is that I usually feel good when I reach out to others and just start talking. If you’re looking for a way to increase your manly confidence, start talking to strangers on a daily basis.

I just love the term “manly confidence”. It’s like normal confidence, only manlier. It’s like that 10% extra you get for free when you buy one of those big Nutella jars.

How to Talk to Strangers

Yes! How do you talk to strangers?!

Let go of your pride. You might think that the number one barrier to talking to strangers is nervousness, but it’s actually pride.  We’re nervous because we don’t want our egos bruised from being rejected, so we don’t even attempt to reach out. But here’s the deal. That fear is completely unfounded. About 97% of the time when I’ve struck up a conversation with a stranger, the response is positive. Humans are social animals and are actually quite open to conversation. Even if you do get rejected, big deal. You didn’t know the person before and now you still don’t know them. Nothing has changed.

This is true.

Dress for success. If you find yourself shuffling along in life and staring at your shoes instead of looking at other people, it’s probably because you lack self-confidence in your appearance. If you’re dressing like a slob, you’re not going to want to talk to people because you don’t want anyone to give you a closer inspection. But when you practice good grooming and dress nicely, you’ll feel great about yourself. You’ll have more self-confidence, and you won’t be afraid to look people in the eye.

Smile and say “hi!” You’d be surprised how a smile and a “hello” can break the ice with people. Instead of keeping your eyes glued to the ground as you’re walking, make it a habit to smile and say hi to people as you pass them. You might not start a conversation with that person, but it’s a good baby step towards having full flung conversations with strangers. If you need another reason to get into this habit, smiling and saying “hi” is probably the only pick up line that consistently works with women.

Break the ice by finding something you have in common at the moment. At a wedding? Ask the person how they know the bride and groom. At a school function? Ask about the person’s kid and share something about yours. Standing in line at the coffee shop? Ask a person what they suggest ordering. The conversation may only last for a minute, but there’s always a chance you’re striking up a conversation with a new mentor or girlfriend.

Talk to people at businesses you frequent. 
Talking to a business’s employees is one of the easiest ways to begin a conversation with someone because you already sort of have a relationship with them. They make your coffee, bring you your food, or cash your checks. Instead of keeping your communications strictly business, show some genuine interest in these folks and ask them questions like, “How’s business today?” or “How’s your day today?” or “How long have you been working here?” Introduce yourself and ask them their name. There you go. You’ve just made a new connection with someone you interact with on a regular basis.

Ask questions. Probably the easiest way to get people to start yammering is to ask questions about them. Most people love to talk about themselves. But be careful how you employ this. It’s probably not a good idea to ask a woman you just met where she lives and what time she comes home. You’ll just freak her out.

Be authentic. When talking with strangers, be your best self.  There’s no need to come up with some canned lines that you say to people you don’t know. When you’re comfortable with yourself, people recognize that and will instantly become comfortable with you.

I guess most of this is also true. I don’t really consider “hi” to be a pickup line, though. I just say “hello” to people.

Man-meter: I like talking to strangers. It makes me feel sociable and you get to have interesting conversations. But I never felt particularly manly when I did it.


One thought on “30 DAYS TO BE A BETTER MAN: (17) TALK TO 3 STRANGERS

  1. Pingback: 30 DAYS TO BE A BETTER MAN: BOYS WILL BE BOYS (Concluding Remarks: part II) | thepoliticalnarrator

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