I invite my partner to do something with my mark. She responds. It may not be what I intended at all, but that's generally okay. Then I follow her. I know that is a cliched approach, but it is really the one I take. I try to be especially sensitive to her response to the music, and if she is willing, I try to let her control the speed and musicality of the dance as an equal partner.
But I spend perhaps only that one tanda with a stranger. It might be more pleasant if we keep it simple and stable - I "lead" and she "follows" (put in your politically correct wording, of course).