Social Skydiving: The Art of Talking to Strangers

by Brad Bollenbach, August-1-2007 (Social Skydiving, Dating, Relationships, Courage & Fear)


I’ve travelled all over the world, from New York to Cape Town, Rio de Janeiro to Tokyo. I’ve had the privilege of working with brilliant minds. A few years ago I learned French, and mastered the language well enough to speak in horrible slang with a fully authentic accent. I bought my first house not even 72 hours after my first ever house-shopping expedition, and only hours before I was due on a plane to Australia.

But the single most exhilarating thing I’ve ever done was to make a habit of talking to strangers.

Nothing has changed my world view, and my life, more than taking the risk of saying “Hi” to people I don’t know on a regular basis. Whether I’m walking down a busy shopping street, longboarding in the park, or out at a nightclub, I see every moment that I’m out in the world as a chance to meet new people.

How to Become a Social Skydiver

I can’t help but geek out on almost everything I do. Dating, relationships, and social circle building are no exception. I set goals in those areas and take action to achieve them. Here’s the recipe I use for bringing new people into my life, whether it’s making new friends around common interests, meeting women, or making business contacts.

  1. Figure out what you want. What kind of social life do you want? What kind of people do you want to meet? Do you want a serious girlfriend or something more casual? Knowing what you want helps you focus on spending your social time in productive ways.
  2. Smallchunk it. Start with smaller daily or weekly goals to propel you in the right direction. For example, a few years ago I decided to give up online dating forever, and meet girls only through real world means. I started by going out and just making eye contact with girls in the street, too shy to even open my mouth. I worked my way up to deeper interactions in various social situations. These days, I can go from no love life whatsoever to dating in a week or two.
  3. Let go of your ego. I’ve been told to “Fuck off!” I’ve been ignored. I’ve been brushed off in dramatic fashion. I’ve also met and dated women of unique vintage and beauty. When you take the risk of talking to someone you don’t know, rejection is the only certainty. But failure is exciting–it’s a chance to learn and improve. There’s a name for guys who never get rejected by women, never say the wrong thing, and never have their ego bruised by the opposite sex: Internet Porn Connaisseurs.
  4. Get out of your house! Don’t spend months trying to get past step #1. Even if you’re not sure exactly what you want, get out of your house and start opening up to the world. Motivation follows action, and experience will help inform your objectives.

How to Approach People

I prefer to keep my conversations fairly organic. I don’t like coming in with “canned material”, “nuclear attraction” routines, or other social robotics. The best way, in my experience, is to come from the heart and live fully in the moment.

What you say isn’t nearly as important as how you say it. Socializing is about exchanging energy, not being a wordsmith. When in doubt, just say “Hi”.

If you’ve never done this before, you may get brushed off several, even dozens of times until you get really comfortable being yourself in front of other people. Attractive women are highly socialized. A girl can sense your nervousness and anticipated rejection, and will take no prisoners when shooting you down.

That’s okay. It’s normal. Pat yourself on the back for having the balls to do what 95% of men around the world couldn’t do if their life depended on it. Then move on to the next one.

What I’ve Learned from Talking to Strangers

Talking to strangers has, literally, changed my world view and my life. It’s taught me so many things that I could never have learned from a book. Here’s what I’ve taken away from my experiences thus far:

  • People don’t bite. A lot of people are really open to conversation. In fact, you’d be amazed at how many girls will be practically overjoyed that you came and talked to them, as if they’ve been waiting for you to approach them.
  • Rejection is no big deal. I can’t repeat this enough. Still, fear of rejection will be the main reason why guys don’t go out and try this. If you are willing to get rejected, brush it off and keep going, you will have an awesome sex life. Period.
  • Authenticity is the silver bullet. An honest individuality is the most magnetic of human qualities. But keep in mind that buying a girl a drink and showering her with compliments is not being sweetly authentic; it’s saying “I want to sleep with you.”
  • The people around you aren’t watching. And, even when they are, it’s usually in shock and awe, rather than because they’re laughing at you.
  • Other guys will get out of your way. You’ll be amazed how often other guys simply fade into the background when you approach their female friends.

I could go on, but ultimately it comes down to you experiencing it for yourself.

One Approach a Day

If you’re still terrified by the idea of talking to strangers, I’d recommend one specific challenge to get you started, which I’ve done myself: Talk to one stranger a day, every day, for 30 days.

If you’re walking past a girl on the sidewalk, say “Hi”, and she looks at you and keeps walking (done that many times), your job is done for the day. If you walk up to a girl in a club and say “Hey!”, and she responds, with a slightly grossed out look “I have a boyfriend.”, congratulations, you’re one step closer to improving your love life. The point of this exercise is to get you used to talking to people you don’t know and form the habit of being more social.

Talking to strangers will change your life. You’ll meet new people every day, you’ll give yourself control over your social and love life, and you’ll experience firsthand the joy of living dangerously.


1 comment so far

  1. Keira on

    Hmm, why do I get the impression that you might try it out. 😛

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