Talking to strangers? Are you feeling okay?!
"Don't talk to people you don't know." I’ve always heard this since I was a little girl, so why would I change this habit of avoiding them now?! When we are young, strangers are seen as dangerous people we should be scared of. Although, if we fear them, then we don't really know how to approach them, which means many of us often run from them... literally. I'm the kind of person who sits very far away from others in waiting rooms. Not because I’m afraid of catching anything, but because I am uncomfortable with the thought of someone talking to me.
As I became an adult, I learned how to defend myself and, more importantly, I realized that most people were more caring than malicious, or in some cases, more indifferent than dangerous. Nevertheless, I'm not good at small talk. I don't know how to make conversation, and it is even more obvious with strangers.
>>> Discover; How to become a great conversationalist
Talking to people we don’t know is always a tense moment
At parties where I don't know anyone, I cling onto my partner for dear life, that’s right, he’s way more sociable than me. But, at certain points, I know I have to stand on my own two feet, socially speaking. It just so happens that on this particular day, on a bench at the park, I was watching my dog sniffing around like he does, when an old lady sat down next to me! 😱
Every one knows that there is an unspoken code that says, for example, you shouldn't stare at someone for too long and should for instance maintain a certain distance from them. These rules guarantee a certain personal intimacy, but they also contribute, for a part of the population, to the maintenance of solitude, isolation and invisibility. This lady started talking to me and I replied 🙂. She said something again, and I too found things to say. Victory! The more we talked, the more comfortable I felt and the more we enjoyed talking, simply, without pressure.
Talking to strangers is a bit weird at first, but we greatly underestimate the pleasure we can get from it. We didn't talk for more than 5 minutes, but I left with a smile on my face and a deep sense of well-being (and pride, of course). I hope that for this lady too, this brief moment was a suspended and happy one, because together we created a bond and that is something rare, that we humans need to do.
The benefits of making small talk with strangers
- Go beyond your prejudices and therefore open your mind. When we see a person, we put them in one of the boxes of our mind: woman/man/young/old/black/white/stranger, and often we don't go further than the prejudices we attribute to that person. Learning to overcome our prejudices allows us to be more tolerant, more open-minded, and more generally to approach the world with more serenity.
- Take a dose of joy. It's a fact, I've experienced it, small talk between strangers makes you feel good!
- Nurture a sense of belonging and gratitude. We all need the nourishment of (emotional) connection to feel part of a sphere, a community, a society. By talking with strangers, we feed our need to integrate and their need for recognition.
- It helps us gain self-confidence. By talking to strangers, many of us will go beyond our limits, out of our comfort zone. By doing so, we feel proud and gain self-esteem.
- It helps us to create temporary intimacy. Sometimes it can be easier to confide in someone you don't know, rather than in someone close to you. The gaze of those who know us on our worries would be heavier to bear than that of a stranger, whom we will probably never see again.
How can we go about sparking up conversation with strangers?
What really prevents us from talking to others? Shyness or being an introvert, or even being a snob, but we are also afraid of being rejected. If we don't start a conversation with others, it is above all because of fear. So you have to get over this feeling and jump in.
Most of the time, it is easier in situations that are a little atypical. It's easier to talk to strangers when we're all waiting for a late train, when a rainstorm is holding us up in a mall, or when our team is winning a sports competition 👏.
😉 Smile, take off your headphones, put away your smartphone and say hello to people you pass in the street. You can also use something in your environment to talk to a stranger. The lady who approached me started the conversation by talking to me about my dog. At an event, you can also approach someone with a compliment or offer to help.
Editorial opinion: A difficult but rewarding exercise
It's not always easy to open a conversation with complete strangers, but it feels fantastic, try it and see for yourself! Feel free to leave your best anecdotes in comments, because I love reading them 😘. And if you encounter difficulties in reaching out to others, don't hesitate to contact a coach in order to put in place new habits that will allow you to live your best life.
🤗 Understand yourself, accept yourself, be happy... It's here and now!
Be sure to check out these articles too;