Chinese students often ask for advice on speaking to Americans.
In my opinion, talking to people you do not know is
a learned skill. Making true friends is much more difficult.
But as for the first subject, talking to people you do not know. . .
1) Find someone who is extraordinarily good at talking to people they
do not know. Follow them and watch them. Try to find the patterns.
I've been lucky. I've known at least two people who were very good at
that and learned a lot by watching them.
2) There are things people like to talk about and things they don't
like to talk about. People like to talk about things they are good
about or enjoy doing. Ask about them. If you find the right subject,
people love to talk about it.
3) Don't worry too much about language but do ask for clarification
when you become confused about what they are saying. If people want to
talk to you, they will work with you to do so, even with an accent.
4) My advice for women is that if men invite you to do something, sometimes, often, they are looking for a date. Sometimes they are just friendly. I have had
problems where I have invited out Asian women on what I thought was a
date and then learned later they were married and hadn't told me or
some other crazy thing (this always shocks my American friends when I
Therefore, should a man invite you to go do something, and you want to
see if he's looking for a date or just being friendly, one good way is
to say, "That sounds nice. Can I bring a friend?" If he acts confused,
upset or says "no" or "Well, I was hoping it would just be the two of
us . . ." then he was looking for a date. If he says "yes" without
any confusion then he is able and willing to go out as friends.
Hope this avoids some problems.
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