I know the standard line is ‘don’t talk to strangers’ and it is very good advice for children… however, I am no child. No one would ever say that I am shy… I manage to strike up conversations with strangers in the supermarket, on the train or at cafes. I don’t even start all of these conversations… they just find me. I have met some AMAZING people and have had great random chats. I have learnt fascinating facts, have been presented with wild theories and engaged in brilliant banter.
Just today I was having coffee at a local cafe, soaking up the glorious winter sun and a lovely lady approached my dog and we ended up talking (about dogs) for half an hour. She might as well have pulled up a stool and had a cup of coffee. It can be lovely to connect with people from different walks of life, different generations/cultures or seemingly other planets.
Over the years I have had a fair few freaky conversations as well. Being an approachable person means that the nut jobs also join in the conversation… this is when you have to rely on your gut instinct. In the game of talking to strangers, you‘ve got to know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em. If you feel at all uncomfortable or unsafe while talking to a stranger just get up and walk away. Don’t let the fear of seeming rude get in the way of self-preservation.
There is a great line in the movie The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo… the bad guy, Martin says “It’s hard to believe that the fear of offending can be stronger than the fear of pain, but you know what? It is.”
The number one rule of talking to strangers is to never give out your contact details. It can be very tempting to continue the conversation but you don’t know this person (no matter how nice they seem). Don’t give them a means to track you down. I once talked to a pianist it a hotel bar about music and mindlessly mentioned where I worked and for the next week he showed up at my work place expecting me to go out with him. It was terrifying. If someone is really cool and you’d like to chat again you could throw out the idea of meeting up the same time next week or just leave it to chance. If it’s meant to be… you will meet up again.
So don’t think that every stranger is a menacing loony or a psycho. Have an open mind… but rely on your instincts and protect your identity 😉