Yes you did read it right, I said START talking to strangers. I know we were always told as children ‘don’t talk to strangers’ but I believe talking to random people we meet is healthy, fun and makes us happy.
Lately I think many of us are withdrawn from the world.
We surround ourselves with people every day (the commute to work, the pub, grocery shopping etc.) but when was the last time we actually interacted with them? At this point you might be asking yourself when the last time you had a conversation with a random was but before you do I want to clarify what I mean by conversation.
What I’m talking about is an exchange of questions, statements or answers, back and forth between two or more people which leads to you learning something new. So sorry ordering your skinny latte or telling the girl at Woolworths you don’t have a frequent shopper card doesn’t count.
There are probably a million reasons why we don’t talk to strangers.
Too busy talking to people on our phones, thinking of all the chores we need to do in our heads and personal safety, to name just a few. You’d probably argue that these are legitimate reasons, especially personal safety, and I wouldn’t disagree. I’m not saying you go out and strike up a conversation with everyone who comes in a metre radius of you but that if you are more open, approachable and smile! you might learn a thing or two and even make a friend.
This last week I have learned how to; play the didgeridoo courtesy of a musician on the tram, wear a scarf in 6 different ways thanks to a sales assistant, curl my hair using a hair straightener because my hair dresser couldn’t believe I didn’t know how to, and was given a free Pimms because I complimented a bar tender on her jeans and we got into a massive rant about the price of clothes in Australia (she was from England).
I didn’t go out of my way to meet people or have these conversations I just went around doing my business but when I was given an opportunity to interact with someone I did. And you know what I feel better. When I see people with their heads down, getting their phone out as soon as they are alone and looking shocked when people saying something more than ‘hello’ or ‘thank you’ to them I get worried and a little sad.
Next time you ask a stranger how their day is actually be genuine and you may be surprised at what happens. You might have a laugh or learn something new but either way you will walk away feeling happy.
Give it a try and let me know what happens.
P.S If you like reading about random conversations you might want to check out #tramdiaries my blog about people’s experiences on public transport.