Does the idea of talking to strangers appeal to you? Maybe or maybe not? I understand it’s probably not everyone’s cup of tea but we don’t have to avoid it at all costs either. Recently I’ve stepped out my comfort zone and started to make small talk with a selected range of strangers in public. It’s like a mixed bag – both exhilarating and intimidating.
It’s a lot easier when you have a dog with you. I’ve seen how quickly people drop their guard and come for a chat on their own initiative. It’s true my dog (Jamie) is more popular than me. He draws lots of attention wherever he goes. Why wouldn’t he? A cutie like him, I can learn so much from his unforced charisma.
Not surprisingly, the more comfortable you are with who you are, the more natural the interaction will flow through between you and a stranger. Personally, to reach that level of comfort and authenticity in front of someone you’ve never met or spoken with, it requires some mental preparation to begin with. I generally start it off by having a rough draft in my head, typically a very short sentence/question, then 123 I just dive straight into it without any expectations. Then just let the nature takes its own course. It’s a matter of relying on my intuitions and spontaneity. Whatever it pans out, it’s meant to be that way.
I admit I get cold feet at times particularly when I’m not sure if my unsolicited approach will be well-received. What would they think of me? Would they think I’m a freak or a weirdo?What if I get rejected? However most of my experiences so far have been pleasant. I’ve chatted with people working in the same building but on different floors, overseas tourists, sales clerks at a department store, a commuter at the same bus stop, a pub manager, a construction worker, a surveyor, a drone pilot assistant, a film director to name just a few. Overall, strangers aren’t that scary. Almost everyone has a story to tell and to share. The common denominator that I’ve found is that people appreciate the fact that you tell it like it is and aren’t trying to impose something on them, be it an idea, a concept, an ideology, a belief, a view or a product. The less judgmental and opinionated you are, the better you are reciprocated. Even if you appear a bit lost, shaky, nervous, vulnerable or curious, if it’s genuine, it’s authentic, it’s trusted.
They say stranger are just friends you haven’t met yet. I can relate to it. The beauty of talking to strangers is you’ll probably never meet them again…