Wow. This will be a difficult task for me and one that will take me some time to do. With people I know, I am well but not with strangers. I'll have to get out someplace to be able to do this. It is a great task to be a better man.
I had inadvertently done this today although without the benefit of the tips presented in the article. I have been working on severe shyness for a few years now, and I've found that a simple, "Hi, how are you" is the best all purpose opener. Most of the time, people are relieved that someone else took the initiative (including me when the tables are turned). The hardest thing for me is getting over the need to win over absolutely everyone I speak with.
I am learning to accept that not every conversation will be successful. This is inevitable, but the flip side is that the greatest thing about talking to strangers is the ability to practice. If it doesn't work out, who cares, chances are slim you'll never see each other again. Thus we can make and learn from mistakes without them following us around.
I don't see this as a challenge today as in my job I get to talk to strangers all of the time. In my life as a College Administrator, I get to encounter strangers both in the sense of current and prospective students as well as other guests to campus.
The challenge for me revolves around talking to strangers outside of work. I tend to be find with this at work, but once I get home, I don't go out of my way always to get to know strangers, at least not as much as I do at work.
Don't get me wrong, I am an extrovert and can get out there with the best of them, but sometimes, I just don't seem to go with the flow in the direction if you know what I mean.
The only other challenge that I sometimes run into is in what to talk about. I mean, you can get them talking about themselves, but then beyond that, at times it is hard for me to come up with topics at times to keep the conversation flowing. Mybe it is just me.
I will see who I get to meet today! How about all of you, how do you deal with meeting strangers both personally and professionally?
I can see this as a challenge for some; but not for me. I talk to just about everyone. I use the same approach with everybody. Once I know I'm close enough for them to actually hear me, I just start talking. I do it with such familiarity, that they are put at ease almost instantly. I usually open with a humorous observational comment, such as, while waiting in a long line, "so... are they GIVING something away here?" or "do they think we've nothing else to do?". The response is usually positive, and along the same line as my question.
Occasionally, I get an "eye-roll", but so what? That response usually comes from teen-age girls. And I rarely talk to them, because it can be rather pointless. I find they are usually so self-absorbed, that they aren't even aware there is anyone else in the room, anyway. (my apologies to my youngest daughter's teen-age friends.)
I'm an introvert and when someone does this kind of thing to me, I tend to give a non-answer - maybe just a head nod - and then try to find something on the floor to stare at. I know, it's not the "social" thing, but that's just me. And I don't do it to be rude - please, don't assume that. It's just that I'm not comfortable with that level of social interaction with someone I don't know. It actually drains energy from me, makes me tired.
This is a great article. He is right about being a great way to meet your soulmate. I met my wife this way. We ran into each other at the store. I asked her a question about something in the store. Then I asked her if she would like to join me for a cup of coffee. The rest is history. But she repeats over and over that she thought it was so hot that I was dressed up and not just in casual clothes and that I asked her to join her for a cup of coffee and not a beer at the bar. That it was different than anyone else that had asked her out.
I did this one easy today. All of the nurses/doctors/surgeons that came to see me were total strangers. OK, it's their job to be nice, but I really made an effort not to be just another patient. Inspired by the AoM, I'm going to handwrite a letter of thanks to all of the staff at the hospital once I can think straight! (Still woozy from the anaesthetic.)
I hope you're alright, Tom. Great idea about handwriting a note to the hospital staff! I was in the hospital once and was so impressed by the great care they gave me that I wrote the doctor and nurse a thank you note.
I can't really say that I completed this challenge.
Spoke a couple of words with a lady at lunch and chatted at bit with a guy at a shop.
This was exactly the kind of challenge I expected though, and the day is not over yet.
So far I've got 3 down, they were very brief conversations, but conversations nonetheless.
The first was an elderly man, we were both looking at the discount section at a local market. I like to find something cheap I can use when I put together my lunch for the day, he was looking for cookies, donuts or anything sweet. I helped him a bit, but we couldn't find anything. I wished him luck in his search and was on my way.
The second and third were clients of a man that shares the office with us here. I was the only one in the office when I showed up, someone came to the door looking for him. Instead of just saying he wasn't here, I offered to call him, but only got a voicemail. We exchanged a few words and he was on his way. The last run-in was another client talking to me about the Mac I was using, we had a few words about what great computers they are. He said his son uses one and I showed him that I've got a few here at my desk that I use daily. Nothing exciting, but I can work on that.
I think I'll make it a point to have 3 more, in depth conversations, at least some that aren't in passing.
I've found out that using my hobbies really allows me to go up to people that I don't know. Through mountain biking, I've made loads of riding buddies, contacts, friends and even made existing friends better friends. Without that, I'd be riding alone, and that's no fun (well it can be, but not as much).
On the streets, in passing, I would normally give an under the breath salutation to someone walking towards me. The last month or so, I've been making it a point to use an audible voice and really engage the person, even if just walking by.
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