There seems to have been a lot in the press recently about initiating conversations, talking to strangers, seizing the moment to chat … on the train, on the bus, in a queue.
Assuming that people trying this out will be doing it safely – making good judgements on choosing their moments and their conversation topics – it seems to me like a pretty good thing to try out.
But then I would say that.
As someone with a personality type with a clear preference for extraversion, I love nothing more than starting up a friendly chat with a stranger … and I’ve done this frequently, effecting great outcomes. The most notable was probably the one I started with a woman in a fast food restaurant as we waited for our orders to be cooked – she turned out to be the manager of a musical tribute act. Fast forward several weeks later and me and my friends were at her band’s concert singing along to the tunes we knew so well and enjoying the most wonderful evening of nostalgia. And all stemming from an “excuse me, is that seat taken” opener.
Of course, it takes two to tango. My restaurant conversation wouldn’t have happened if my tribute act manager hadn’t wanted to talk – and I know I struck lucky on that occasion because she was the most warm, engaging, friendly person who clearly liked getting her energy from other people too.
So, back to where I came in – striking up a conversation with strangers. I know it’s not easy for everyone, and neither should anyone feel obliged to do it. But as someone once said, it’s good to talk. And if doing this in a social setting just doesn’t appeal to you, how about next time you’re at the water cooler at work? Say hello to that newish person in your department you’d been wondering about.
What’s the worse that could happen?