Talking to Strangers
Earlier this week, I read a post on The Alexander Residence called Why I Talk to Strangers. In the post, Penny told a story about experiences and opportunities that had come her way by making herself open to talking to strangers. At the end of her post, she linked to a blog all about setting a challenge to talk to strangers.
I was intrigued, and headed straight over to the Talk to Strangers blog to read more. There I discovered that Fletcher, aka People Person, had recently released the entire blog as an ebook. (If you want to download it, here’s the link on Amazon.co.uk: Talk To Strangers, and here’s the Amazon.com site: Talk to Strangers.) The entire account is also available on the blog itself – but I found it easier to read it in book form.
So I downloaded it straight away on to my Kindle. And then I devoured it. Seriously. In a couple of evenings, I read the whole thing. I just couldn’t put it down. What started as a simple project to challenge himself, changed Fletcher’s life. And in this book, he really invites you along on the journey. Perhaps it’s because the book is a series of blog posts that it feels so diary-like and at the same time so conversational.
It’s a love story and a story of self-discovery. But it’s also an insightful look at society today – at how we act and interact, how we communicate, and how we put up walls between us. I think it was Penny from The Alexander Residence who shared another link during the week (but of course I can’t find the link now) that said that talking to strangers was actually a recognised trait of “lucky” people. That it’s not that some people are somehow luckier than others, but that by the very fact that they put themselves out there and are open to interactions with others, with strangers, they make luck for themselves, and they are presented with opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise present themselves.
I can be quite nervous speaking to new people, and worry a lot about what I say, and how I come across. I’ve spoken before about my local breastfeeding support group, and all the good friends I made there. That group was a real “talking to strangers” experience for me. In the early weeks, I had to psyche myself up for going there and introducing myself to new people, and making small talk. And one thing that really resonated with me in the Talk to Strangers book was when Fletcher talked about how he became practiced at it. Because that was my experience too. The more people I met through “Boobie Group”, the easier it got to be the one to make the effort. If a new person walked through the door, I always went over and introduced myself and asked them a little about themselves, their baby, and how the feeding was going. But it helped that I had easy topics of conversation to hand.
What Fletcher did was much harder than that, because he didn’t always have obvious common ground with the person he spoke to. The entire book has given me real food for thought, and for the next few days at least, while it’s on my mind, I think I’ll be more open to talking to strangers. I’ll certainly think about talking to them! Whether or not I pluck up the courage to strike up conversation is another matter entirely!
Have you read the book – and if you have, has it inspired you to start talking to randomers? Or better yet, are you considered a lucky person? And do you think your luck is partly down to talking to strangers?