I was on an airplane recently and was struck by the way the person seated next to me initiated conversation. His comments were lighthearted – mainly about the locale we were departing and our destination city. Seems travelers used to do this a lot but I must say it seemed almost strange this time – people are so tuned into their handhelds or whatever is coming through their earbuds. “I want my privacy” and “don’t bother me” is most often the body language and vibe presented.
Is talking to strangers now taboo? Introverts and extroverts would probably answer the question differently…but regardless of your personality style, I’d like to propose that talking to strangers can definitely play a role in your day. How?
First, it can help you step out of yourself and connect to the world around you (important b/c with all of our technology connectedness people feel more isolated and lonely than ever before.) Regular practice will help you build your communication skills resulting in increased confidence, and quite simply – it can be fun! We can gain insight into how other people think and live.
Not sure where to start? Think of some simple conversation starters or kind gestures. The possibilities are endless – hold the door for someone, offer to snap a photo of a family you see, give directions to a tourist, or speak to an elderly couple. Conversation starters can also stem from what people are wearing – logos and names say something about who we are or what we value: a university, sports team, pets, etc. Project openness through your smile and body language, and you might be surprised at how receptive others will be towards you. Obviously, safety protocols are always front and center of your thinking….
I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone in this small way. Where will you talk to a stranger today? The grocery store line? Your daughter’s ballet class? On the train, airplane or elevator? You never know what joy it might bring.