How to be approachable…even when you’re walking your dog.

Last night I was walking my dog quickly to his “spot” and I saw two teenaged girls that I didn’t know walking back from their trek to the Sonic that is located near our neighborhood. I looked intently to see if they were girls that attended our church and also lived in my neighborhood but I didn’t recognize them.  However, I smiled and gave a nod as they were intersecting with the path of my dog and I.  They giggled at my dog Diesel and I then one stopped dead in her tracks to ask me, “Does this look weird with me holding two large drinks in my hands”?  She really wanted to know what I thought about her.  I told her, “Um no. It just looks like you’re thirsty.”  She laughed and relaxed as she rolled her eyes and said “I am—and I love Vanilla Coke!”  I waved and said something to let her know I’m glad.  As I went upstairs, I started thinking—why did that interaction happen.  I don’t even know those girls and yet, they are openly starting dialogue with me.  And then it hit me—-I think it’s because I saw them first and was acknowledging them.

It was such a little gesture but something in my body language made me appear open for conversation. I’ve been realizing that there are things I can do to create an atmosphere for an engaging conversation wherever I go.  I’ve also gotten into the habit of taking mental notes like a detective to determine social cues.  I’m going to share some of those with you and hopefully they will allow you to find yourself having random conversations with people that intersect with your path.

1. Look for shared experiences in the moment.

I was able to have a complete traveling group made of strangers because we were sitting on the tarmac for an obscene amount of time.  We were all frustrated but I chose to break the silence by asking a question regarding the time.  As a result, I made friends with 4 ladies sitting around me.

2. Create a door or a window that opens the “wall of silence”.

So you walk up to a group of girls and they stop talking. What’s your door? What’s your window that will get that group of girls open to talking with you?

Once I was sitting alone at a musical and a group of girls came sitting down by me.  After a few minutes I simply asked: “Excuse me I’m here to see one of the girls from our church in this musical, but I don’t know a thing about this play.  Can you help me know what this is all about?

3. Body language is saying a lot:

Make sure you are looking at people in the eyes as they pass you.  Smile at women and say hello.  It will amaze you at how little things like this make the unlikeliest people come and say something that will strike up a conversation.

What are some things you do to make yourself approachable?

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