A FEW weeks ago, I forgot to take my headphones to work. I was annoyed. I take the bus in, and I like to listen to any number of playlists to wake me up, calm me down or focus my mind before work. Putting my headphones in shuts out the world until I am ready for it, and it also deters other people from talking to me. So when I didn’t have my headphones that day, the massive picture frame I was carrying became something of a conversation starter…
As children, we are discouraged from talking to strangers: stranger danger makes us scared of engaging with people we don’t know. As we grow older, the rules evolve as we learn about polite greetings, yet we still avoid proper conversation with strangers because we might annoy them – and it takes effort on our part. But anybody who has travelled (be it to another continent, country, or even town) knows that one of the quickest ways to feel at home is to ask questions and strike up conversations. Talking to a stranger isn’t just about saying hi to them, but learning about their country and culture. It is nice sometimes to keep this inquisitiveness long after you feel at home.
I was expecting that morning to be an awful start to the day. Instead, I talked to a man about my picture frame project, and he told me about the fire brigade. We will never meet again, but two strangers exchanging stories made an impact on each other.
In this video from TEDTalks, Kio Stark talks about the benefits of talking to strangers.
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