According to psychologists, talking to strangers can be taxing on the brain, and even small talk can seem stressful, tiring and cognitively demanding.
On the flip side, talking to strangers is a kind of workout that boosts our mental performance.
Talking to strangers is worth it, as it offers a certain profound joy, a real communion. If more people start talking to strangers, our broken society can be healed.
Most of us are laughably bad at striking up good conversations with strangers, and can hope to improve ourselves if we learn what all is lacking to break the ice.
The conversation is mostly initiated by small talk, the opener that gets everything started. Most people hate small talk, but one cannot talk to strangers without initiating the conversation with something familiar and reassuring.
Many people hate it when the small talk is of the weather, but fail to understand that it is actually a kind of code that helps people overcome their inhibitions and be ready to actually talk to the other person.
Once the person who has been approached feels comfortable, real talk can happen.
Everyone is interested in a really deep, engaging conversation, but they will not show it, and it is up to us to discover the same.
We use scripted conversations to be on the safe side, as we fear that saying any unscripted word can trigger something unwanted in the other person.
While scripted conversations are efficient, they deny us the actuality of the other person, the stranger who may be just a friend we haven’t met yet.
By talking off-script or replying in a unique, unheard of manner, we make it comfortable for the stranger to mirror us and say something similar.
Asking something specific and humorous to a stranger is a risk, but if the timing is right, one can give a great first impression about being complex, empathetic, humourous and human.
Once the stranger recognizes you as a human, a bond is created and real conversation can start.
The point is to be different and vulnerable so that you sound intriguing and yet do not come across as a psychopath!
The main reason we don’t talk to strangers is simply because we don’t talk to strangers. People are simply not supposed to violate the norm of leaving other people alone at back alleys, parks and subways.
The trick is to acknowledge this handicap and pre-frame the negative thoughts of the other person by reassuring them that you know you are breaking the norm.
Most people sound despicable because they just keep on talking about themselves.
Another way to signal your attentive listening is to simply echo what the other person is saying.
The Stranger says: At that moment, I felt frustrated.
You: You were frustrated.
Listening can be for:
We need to work more into the deep levels of listening for motivations, values and feelings.
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