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SDA Personal Ministries

How to Approach

What to say

And What to Say

Before we talk about what to say, it's important to touch on "how" we approach people in general.

Some professional tips from 'researchers' who approach strangers on a regular basis:

Be ready with any appropriate, quick, and friendly questions (list below).

You have to be “on” and energized without being freaky.

Be inquisitive rather than confrontational.

Dress neat and nice.

Give yourself time, don't 'be' rushed.

Don't worry if your or they are uncomfortable.

If the person reacts negative just be quiet, move on, and pray.

You don't know what is going on in their life right now but God does. Be open to God's still small voice.

As for what to say, depends on the situation. Small talk is a great way to start. Look at their grocery cart, what they are wearing, a book they are reading, etc. My husband is extremely good at striking up conversation with strangers. Some places allow to turn the conversation to religion others don't. A check out line is not usually a good place to getting into Daniel and Revelation.

The more you know about the Bible, current events, local issues, God's love, practical application in your own life, the more resources you have to draw on for conversation.

Watch out for the WRONG things to say here

 

HERE is a step by step outline of talking with strangers:

 

1. Strike up a conversation. Many people tend to over-think opening lines, struggling to find an extremely charming or interesting thing to say.

In reality, your best bet is to start with something simple like "How are you?" or "Where are you from?" While generic, they are enough to get a person's attention and can serve as a great opening door.

If the person you want to talk to is a stranger in a public place, then start by asking them a question, drawing on observations from the surrounding environment, or giving them a compliment. Try things like "What are you reading?" or "I like your hat, where did you get it?"

If you are at a gathering then simply walk up to them and introduce yourself. It may feel bold and unnatural, but it is completely appropriate to introduce yourself to somebody new at a social gathering. If you don't know who the person is, you can start by asking them how they know the host/hostess: "So how do you know so and so?" This question is appropriate for birthday parties, weddings, baby showers, etc.

 

2. Ask the right questions. Asking questions is a great way to get to know somebody new, but it's important to ask both the right questions and the right amount of questions. Family and Work are the best neutral grown.

Once you have gotten the conversation going, only ask questions that you genuinely care about. Avoid asking yes and no questions or simple answer questions like "So how many siblings do you have?" or "What was your major?". You NEED to care about the answer, or you will quickly become bored with the conversation and run out of things to talk about and it will show.

When asking questions, be prepared to come up with follow-up questions or to share your own information regarding these topics.

Avoid asking question after question, as this will make the conversation feel more like an interview. Alternate between asking questions about the other person and sharing information about yourself in order to keep the conversation balanced.

 

3. Try to find common ground. Sharing common experiences, interests, and tastes is a great way to bond with somebody new.

It may take a few minutes of small talk for you to be able to find a common interest with a new person, but once you do, try to focus the conversation on that topic for a few minutes. If the person mentions having traveled somewhere or read a book that you have, too, then allow them to finish telling you about it and reciprocate by sharing your own personal experience.

 

4. Show genuine interest in the conversation. If you are bored or uninterested in the conversation, it will show.

You must first and foremost seem interested. Maintain eye contact with the person as you speak to them to show that you are fully engaged. Avoid looking down at your phone or staring around the room for other people to talk to.

 

5. Have a sense of humor. It's important to smile and have a lighthearted sense of humor when talking to somebody new to show them that you are easy going and humble.

Avoid seeming too serious or formal, as this may make the person feel uncomfortable. The key to communicating effectively with other people is to be confident. Try not to constantly worry about whether or not you are being interesting, and instead just focus all of your attention on the conversation itself. If you are fully engaged, then the other person will be fully engaged, too.

 

6. Don't forget to listen. Many people get so nervous that they end up talking too much or asking too many questions.

An ideal conversation between two people should involve both parties to speak an equal amount of time. Try to keep your talking to listening ratio at 50:50 throughout the conversation. If you find yourself rambling, then wrap up what you were saying and give the other person a chance to respond. If they don't immediately come up with something to say in response to your tangent, then shift the attention to them by asking "What about you?" or "Have you ever experienced that?" Remember that there's nothing wrong with admitting that you went on a tangent. In fact, it will show the other person that you are self aware and that you understand appropriate social behavior. Try something like "Wow, I just went on a tangent, sorry about that. Moving on!"

 

7. Change topics. If you find common ground with the other person, you will want to explore that subject for awhile, but after a few minutes you should try to segway into a new but related topic of a spiritual nature.

For example, if you start talking about a book that you both love, then you can eventually transition that conversation to talking about films, TV shows, or other books with the same genre and how that helped you in a spiritual way. You can ask them if they see deeper meaning in the story. This is the most creative part and takes practice. Jesus often used every day topics and turned them into spiritual lessons. But don't turn into a 'teacher' with this new and delicate relationship.

 

8. Know when to end the conversation. Part of being a good conversationalist is to know when and how to end the conversation.

The length of the conversation will depend on the circumstances and your surroundings. If you have just met this person and he or she was in the middle of something else (like working on a laptop) before the conversation started, then try to keep it short. This shows you really do care about that individual's needs. If you are talking to this person at a party or other social gathering, then the conversation can go on a little longer. If you are waiting for a plane, Dr. appointment, or otherwise spending time with the person one on one, the conversation should continue until you part ways.

Learn how to read cues that the other person wants to leave the conversation. If they start looking down at their phone, continue gazing around the room, or stop responding entirely, then it's likely that they've lost interest in the conversation. End the conversation politely. If you have just met the person, say something like "Well, it was really nice meeting you. I'll let you get back to what you were doing." or "It was nice talking to you, enjoy the rest of the party!" At this point you can give them a glow tract. "Before we part, I'd like to share something that was meaningful to me" then just hand them a tract (and walk away if appropriate).

 

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