How To Talk To Someone You Have Nothing Common With

Imagine the following scenario: you’re stuck with a person who’s your polar opposite. Worse, you have to be able to strike up a conversation with them. It’s so easy to talk to people you have much in common with, but what do you do in this situation? Fear not; these tips can help immensely.

Remember Your Humanity

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You might be generations apart, but that doesn’t mean you have (literally) nothing in common. You can talk about familiar topics like food, local news, or even the weather. Every single person has some basic experiences in common. You have to pick something everyone has an opinion about and chat.

Ask Questions About Their Differences

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If you want to get someone to warm up to you, politely ask questions about themselves, their culture, and their interests. People love to talk about themselves. More importantly, you’ll get to learn about a different way of life or discover a different mindset. Who knows? You might find more in common than you think.

Focus On Experiences

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She’s a hippie; you’re a straight-laced business executive. What can you do to bond? Simple: create experiences that you can both talk about later on. Whether it’s a walk, a class, or even a trip to a restaurant doesn’t matter. What matters is that it gives you something to discuss later on.

Compliment Them

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Many people who are unusually standoffish (or just “look prickly”) are simply concerned that they will be judged by others. This is particularly true with subcultures that look intimidating, such as goths or artists. The easiest way to get them on your boat is to compliment them on something they clearly care about, such as their clothes.

It lets them know you’re not judging them. That small gesture alone can open up doors that might surprise you.

Avoiding Bad Topics

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Certain topics can set people off, regardless of how polite you are. These topics include politics, religion, sexuality, and finances. If you broach these topics, chances are that you might ruffle feathers. That’s why it’s best to avoid these, particularly with people who you have little in common with.

Get Zen

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Now is a good time to develop a “zen” outlook on people. You do not have to become this person’s best friend; you don’t even have to become their friend. You just need to have friendly and cordial conversations. So, keep things lighthearted and superficial. If things get better, look at it as an added bonus.

Seeing Their Side

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Sometimes, the best way to connect with a person who’s your polar opposite is to have them be your guide. For example, if you’re not a foodie and the person you’re talking to is a gourmet, ask them to bring you to their favorite restaurant. Taking an interest in their interests will make it easier to come into their world and feel welcomed.

Watch For Culture Clashes

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When you’re from totally different realities, it’s easy to have a culture clash. What might be innocuous to you may sound very rude to them. It’s a good idea to mention that you might need some gentle tips when talking to them. Don’t be afraid to ask them if you’ve upset them or tell them to correct you if you say something rude. It can clear things up and help them realize you have no bad intentions.

No Gossip!

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Gossiping might seem like a good way to bond with people when you can’t think of anything else to say. It’s not. Gossip, especially when it’s the only thing you talk about, will make you seem like a sketchy person. People avoid strangers who gossip because they know you’ll talk about them, too.

Ask For Help

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If you’re still flummoxed, it might be time to ask a friend to act as a diplomacy booster. Enlist the help of a friend who seems to be able to get along with everyone. More often than not, having another friend bolster your conversation can help reduce any awkwardness you’re experiencing.

Keep It Short

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Sometimes, even the best efforts at chatting don’t fly. If you notice the person in question looking bored, annoyed, or otherwise bothered, excuse yourself as soon as you can. More often than not, it’s not something you did. Rather, it’s something they’re currently dealing with.

Accept The Peachy Side

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Sometimes, all the efforts in the world aren’t enough to win a person over. It’s good to know when to walk away. Don’t take it personally. As Dita Von Teese famously said, “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who doesn’t like peaches.”

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