Communicating interest to a stranger can be tricky. You want her to get the message that she has your attention, but you don't want to look like you are stalking. So what are some civilized ways to show possible interest in someone that you have never talked to before? This leads me to my tip for today:
MINGLE TIP #97: KNOW HOW TO SHOW INTEREST
My number one tip for success in most social situations is, of course, to have a casual mindset. This definitely applies when you are trying to show someone that you might be interested. Showing interest before you approach can make things much smoother and more comfortable. Here are some ideas for showing interest to a stranger:
(1) Hold eye contact a second or two longer than usual. Hold it long enough for her to notice you noticing. Just be sure you don't stare (see Mingle Tip #96).
(2) Give a light compliment. We don't want to over compliment of course. That is the definition of a try-hard move. A light compliment about something can still be casual and reasonable, however. Don't force anything, but find something about her that you can sincerely compliment and you will show interest without making a huge deal out of it.
(3) Execute a perfect double take. Step 1: Make eye contact. Step 2: Look away. Step 3: Quickly look back and make eye contact again. Voila. Throw in a smile to make sure your double take sends the right message. By the way, this is by far the best way to initiate a sitting in your car, stopped traffic mingle (if you are ambitious enough to consider trying such a thing. It has been done before believe it or not).
(4) Make a direct approach. Unfortunately, this strategy makes it nearly impossible to be casual. Only use this as a last resort if you can't think of anything else to do or say. Casual is always better, if you have a choice.
(5) Use a phrase that gives a possible hint of interest. Don't get me wrong--I am not a fan of playing games. Always be sure you are being real. But if you want to give her a hint that you might be interested without being totally obvious about it, say something like "I feel like I know you from somewhere." This one sounds a little bit like a pickup line, so be careful not to overdo it. I usually only use a phrase like this if it is actually true. The beauty of this comment is that it might be showing interest or it might not. You haven't laid all of your cards on the table immediately when you say it. But you are definitely leaving the possibility open. Mission accomplished.
Showing interest is not necessarily a requirement before approaching or making a comment to someone, but it can definitely make things easier. Keep things casual, as always, and don't let a good opportunity be lost.
UPDATE: (6) Smile. Just be sure you don't hold it too long. A stare/smile can do more harm than good. Keep it subtle and leave the door open for the person to walk through. You will make things much more casual and comfortable in the process.
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