How to Talk to Strangers
The theme this month in the Networking For Nice People Club is "How to connect with the right people". While perusing my feeds, I happened on this video from The Atlantic about techniques for talking to strangers.
The host, James Hamblin, interviews Kio Stark, author of When Strangers Meet. Stark recommends taking the first step of talking to strangers by doing just that. She challenges viewers to walk around a city block or through a park and say hello to everybody you pass by.
The notion of talking to strangers challenges the concept of civil inattention. We are used to acknowledging strangers by giving them brief eye contact, a nod, or smile, but we leave it at that. We typically leave each other alone, but humans crave interaction.
The Perfect Ice Breaker
Stark recommends we think about triangulation when we attempt to talk to strangers. There are three points, you, the person you are speaking to, and an object like a book they are reading, clothing they are wearing, or something around you like a tree or car. Use that object as the perfect ice breaker.
Social network algorithms curate our content and the people who we see most. Our feeds are automatically configured to show us what we want to see most. So the content doesn't challenge our world views or expands our horizons. This is why it is most important to step offline and talk to strangers in person.
Everybody craves connection in one way or another, so make yourself approachable. Take off your headphones, remove the dark shades, put your phone away, and smile at strangers on the street. Muster up the courage to try talking to strangers today.
Techniques for Talking to Strangers via The Atlantic